Don’t Be Fooled: Strong Relationships Take Work

Self-awareness will carry any bond farther.

Kevin Horton
Jul 19 · 4 min read

Who doesn’t want a strong relationship? Anyone who sets out to coast by on a shaky foundation is asking for trouble right from the start.

But the problem is often not that we begin with that in mind. Rather, it’s not realizing for any relationship to be strong, it will take consistent effort from everyone involved.

Prioritize Being Present

In this technologically advanced society we live in, it’s easy to become distracted by a recent tweet or Instagram post. Everyone’s sharing something. And the temptation to see what they’re up to seems to be getting stronger.

But what about the people who are right in front of you? Do you ignore them when you’re together?

Are you constantly looking down at your phone while they’re talking, asking them to repeat themselves after spilling their heart out to you?

If so, it’s time to check yourself.

It doesn’t matter if it’s with family or a special someone, being present is always important.

Become more self-aware. Identify when you’re being pulled in those instances together and get rid of them.

The point is to make the most of the relationship by demonstrating how serious you are about it. That comes from you being fully present and mindfully attentive.

Create Something Together

This may seem counterproductive, especially for those who like things a certain way. But remember, the point here is to bond, not to come up with the next great invention known to man.

Spend some time creating for the fun of it. No need to get all dramatic about the details.

Read Aloud

I personally hated this one growing up. Every time my mom or dad would ask me to read a certain passage out loud, it was like someone asking me to carry a horse up a mountain.

In hindsight, though, the act of taking a book and verbalizing it made the story stand out more.

I’ve always loved reading. But using my voice—and hearing others’—captivated my attention.

Maybe you think reading is the last thing you want to be doing. Those pictures of someone sitting in a nook and binge-reading their favorite story isn’t appealing to you at all!

Try reading aloud with someone you love, even the stories you write yourself.

Don’t Ignore the Board Games

If there was anything that caused a ton of laughter, chatter, and fun in our family, it was board games. Some of my favorite memories stem from late nights on weekends playing Monopoly and The Game of Life.

They seem childish from the outside looking in. But sometimes we run from the joy in being a kid again, and it damages our relationships.

Work hard and play hard.

Bake Some Food

Eating out is cool. Drive-thrus are often the most convenient option. But there’s nothing that comes close to cooking up a storm in the kitchen together.

In those moments, we spend quality time together. I say “quality” because I remember some nights when we would just get food from McDonald’s, get home, and go into our separate rooms.

My parents never enjoyed those nights. They wanted to be together. To talk about life and how things are panning out. As a teenager, I was distracted by all the fleeting things that are mostly irrelevant to me now.

I can see how special the other evenings were, whipping up a serving of bonding time that I’ll never forget. Sometimes the most convenient option is the least rewarding.

Cooking is a skill that can be taken with you. And doing it together makes it all the more worth clean-up time.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes we assume that relationships will work themselves out without putting in much effort. But the opposite is true.

If you want to strengthen the connections you have, be willing to put in the work to see them flourish.

By ignoring our bad habits, we’ll only drive them into the ground more often.

Have fun.

Learn new things.

Part of cultivating healthy relationships begin with cultivating yourself, becoming more self-aware than ever.

Kevin Horton is a photographer, student, modest book-worm, and wanna-be web developer with a new-found love for writing. He writes helpful words about creativity, productivity, and the enjoyably simple life.

’Til next time. Thanks for reading!


Discover tomorrow’s bestsellers today. You'll say you knew them when.

Kevin Horton

Written by

Believer. Listener. Twin. Contributor for The Ascent, The Writing Cooperative, Publishous, and more. Twitter | @kevnhortn


Discover tomorrow’s bestsellers today. You'll say you knew them when.

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