I just did a Google search on this subject and in 0.49 seconds, I got 994,000,000 hits! So it’s obvious that we all want to know what leads to successful connections and happiness with our partners. After all, as the old saying goes, “No (wo)man is an island.”
There’s a ton of research that underscores the importance of relationships with relatives, friends, family, partners, and colleagues. Conflicts collide with our mental balance. I’ve never heard anyone say they like conflicts, although there seem to be people whose way of relating to others is indeed through creating chaos. That aside, there are many opinions about what all contributes to healthy relationships. Is it having common interests? That clearly bonds people – if you both like sci-fi movies, there is no disagreement or negotiation on what to see. But is that enough in itself?
To start with, there is that elusive factor called “chemistry.” You can’t trigger it; you can’t buy it but it provides the initial spark with which we feel attracted to another person. It can also sustain many a relationship even when everything else is falling apart. Even in friendships, it plays a part albeit not a romantic or sexual one.
A more significant issue seems to be having common values. Does what matters to you also matter to him/her? Do you both believe in, say, the value of education? That seems to create a solid foundation more powerfully than whether you both like Mexican food. I think the principle in this is that interests can change; one can go from on to another or develop new ones. But values are more durable. They guide our behavior. They trigger emotions. They form parts of our personality. So it makes sense that they are building blocks in a good relationship.
What’s implicit in aiming for a strong relationship is self-knowledge. Do you know what makes you tick? What you hold sacred? What are your dealmakers and deal breakers? What makes you happy? What angers you? What makes you laugh? When you think of who you are, do you like what you see or not? Our self-worth, if in the healthy and positive range, is what communicates to others the sense that we are someone that is worth knowing. Would you want to hang out with a person who hates himself/herself? It is a subject we all have to deal with and not be afraid to examine and look for ways of improving, because you can.
If you identify what you want to do differently, there are so many self-help books, Youtube videos, and podcasts. Take a look. An open mind is a treasure; use it to its capacity. Happy trails…
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