Everyones’ lives are affected by the connections we make, whether they are friendships, relationships, partnerships, or acquaintances. Human beings are not in a balanced state when there is conflict, so we look to make those connections harmonious. The question of “making them work” on the one hand sounds right, but on the other, it simplifies it to some kind of a mechanical endeavor. Add some WD-40? Smooth the edges with a file? If only we were so uncomplicated …

Take two or more individuals who have grown up in different environments and families, throw them together and expect that all will be well, everyone will get along famously and live happily ever after. Woohoo! Granted, human beings have that magical ability to talk and think. Still …

The question of what attracts people to one another on any basis has tickled the minds of many philosophers, neuroscientists, and thinkers. Once we get past that chemistry or attraction, whatever that may be due to, we now have to learn each other’s ways, habits, and quirks. Author Scott Peck in his classic The Road Less Traveled remarks that after the romance is diminishing, you wake up one morning and realize that he/she has warts and chomps on the food, irritating you. That is when the recognition that one has to find ways of accepting and compromising has to come. Are you able to override the annoying behaviors? Can you just look away and focus more on what is really lovable? Or do you end up with endless arguments? Do the negatives outweigh the positives? Hopefully, connecting with this partner has been with thoughtful weighing of the good qualities in addition to the chemistry.

We now have so much information and resources available that address relationship-building. Make use of them, but assess whether they fit your situation. For some, setting up a date night on a regular basis helps. It’s also crucial to have times when you can sit eyeball to eyeball and put forth those issues that create problems for you. If you don’t trust your partner to hear you out, or if you are not willing to do the same, what is the relationship for? I also believe that no one else has the right to judge anyone else’s choices. If it works for you, so be it. The yardstick has to be that if you are content with the relationship and feel it is adding to your life, then that is what matters (barring destructive issues like abuse). We thrive when we have people around us who feed our soul and enrich our perspectives.

“No one can live without relationship. You may withdraw into the mountains, become a monk, a sannyasi, wander off into the desert by yourself, but you are related. You cannot escape from that absolute fact. You cannot exist in isolation.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti, Indian philosopher

Author Profile

Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577