What Makes A Good Relationship?

Researchers call good relationships a "necessary condition for happiness."

Maybe you read that and think, okay world's most obvious fact.

But many of us prioritize other things--family milestones, career, financial success, status or reputation. We prioritize weight loss or endless to-do lists. Some of us strive to derive our joy from what's happening inside of us--the comforting idea that we independently control our own joy.

But we'll ask you this question: Why? Why do we prioritize what we prioritize?

Give that question some focused thought for a few minutes.

We are biologically wired for social connection. Good relationships are proven to help us live more joyful lives. They are proven to help us stay calmer, to manage stress and intense emotions. Good relationships create a quality of life better than status or financial success.

If we want more joy and more humanity in the world, let's cultivate more positive relationships.

Consider these three questions:

Understand....What makes a good relationship?

Question 2: What kinds of relationships count?

Question 3: What about bad relationships


What makes a good relationship?

The good considerably outweighs the bad.

All relationships will have challenges.

And they require work

Trust, respect, and emotional safety

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Assuming positive intent

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Remember, every meaningful relationship has complexity.

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What about bad relationships?

What makes a "bad" relationship?

They can stress us out and make us unhealthy

Can you turn a bad relationship into a good one?

There's a lot of factors, but go back to "What makes a good relationship" above.

Resources and Citations

  1. "Empirical findings... Having good relationships with other people is the most important contributor to a satisfied life and may even be a necessary condition for happiness. Having a "best friend" at work is a strong predictor of satisfaction and even productivity. A good relationship is one in which the amount of positive communication considerably outweighs the amount of negative communication." Sadock, Benjamin J., et al. Kaplan and Sadock's Synopsis of Psychiatry: Behavioral Sciences/Clinical Psychiatry. United States, Wolters Kluwer Health, 2014.:
  2. Khazan, Olga. "How Loneliness Begets Loneliness," The Atlantic, April 6, 2017,. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/04/how-loneliness-begets-loneliness/521841/ . Accessed 8 June, 2020.
  3. "Social connections ... not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Dozens of studies have shown that people who have social support from family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer. Conversely, a relative lack of social ties is associated with depression and later-life cognitive decline, as well as with increased mortality. "The health benefits of strong relationships." https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/the-health-benefits-of-strong-relationships; Harvard Health Publishing