You could have all the money in the world, but your life could still feel hollow if you don’t have special people with whom you share love and trust. Navigating the rocky terrain of human relationships isn’t always easy — but it’s always worth it.

However, one truth holds: you have to give if you want to receive. That means improving your interactions with others starts by taking a tough look at your life and what you need to change. Here are five steps for mastering building better relationships and enjoying a healthy support system.

How to Build Better Relationships - schedule, relationship, organize, issues, interests, get involved, explore

1. Tackle Your Issues

Your brain is another organ of your body, and it can become sick. When it does, it understandably impacts your thought patterns, like a knee injury would cause you trouble walking. However, people have less patience for the behaviors resulting from maladaptive belief systems. As a result, people stigmatize mental disorders, treating someone with depression differently than another individual with a heart condition. Public perception prevents some people from seeking help.

You might not even realize how deeply your behaviors wound other people. For example, you might start telling little white lies about your alcohol consumption to your partner. It might seem like a minor matter — but lies are only “white” if they’re to spare other people hurt feelings, not hide your misbehavior. Over time, the secrecy can erode the trust in your relationship, sometimes to the point of divorce.

2. Develop Boundaries

It might sound counterintuitive that developing boundaries is a part of building better relationships. However, failing to do so leaves you at risk of codependency, which can destroy your closest bonds.

Codependency refers to forming one-sided and often abusive relationships, repressing your honest emotions and needs. It’s a learned behavior, often conditioned when children of addicted parents watch one spouse sacrifice everything to support the other. Your full-time job becomes managing the other person instead of taking care of yourself and your life. Many psychologists refer to it as “relationship addiction,” with the other person your “drug” of choice.

Healthy boundaries establish what behaviors you will and will not tolerate. They prevent you from falling into unhealthy relationship patterns, freeing you to engage with people who support your goals and want to form a mutually supportive union, not a one-sided transaction.

3. Explore Your Interests

What stirs your passions? You probably adore discussing your favorite hobbies with other enthusiasts. Exploring your interests is a fantastic way to bond with other people who enjoy the same things.

For example, if you run every day, have you considered linking up with a group that does longer weekend excursions together? If a craft like crocheting or cross-stitch is your jam, can you find a local circle that meets in person or online?

4. Get Involved

Another way to build better relationships is by getting involved with volunteer activities in your community. Doing so with friends and family members can bring you closer together.

Why? Volunteering helps you, too, by setting off a flood of positive neurotransmitters like oxytocin and dopamine. These substances make you feel good, increasing your attitude of goodwill and camaraderie toward everyone around you.

Volunteering also puts you in contact with others who share your passion for helping others. Those are the kind of folks you want to invite into your tribe.

5. Organize Your Schedule

Today’s lives are more hectic than ever. You might be working multiple gigs to make ends meet and juggling family responsibilities to boot. How can you find time to build better relationships?

To make the most of your time, you need to organize it. Invest in a planner for the new year. It doesn’t matter if you choose a paper one or an app. What counts is sitting down with it each Sunday and charting your week, then keeping on top of your daily to-dos to ensure a few free hours for mixing with those you love.

How to Build Better Relationships

Humans are social creatures, and life can quickly get lonely without a support system. However, you must nurture the connections you cherish the most if you expect them to last. Follow this guide on building better relationships to strengthen your union with those you hold dear.