Through the years leading up to marriage equality, and even with other individual rights struggles, I wondered about the cognitive process of balancing individual wishes, wants and rights against the needs and rights of coupledom, partnerships and the society writ large. Were these two separate ways of thinking that were mutually exclusive? How would one balance these against each other?

The reality is that when you are a single adult, you call the shots for your own life. The minute you enter a relationship, even a friendship, you give up some level of power in the interest of the newly created bond. That is, if that bond and strengthening it, or making it healthy for both, is important to you. Otherwise, you have two separate paths that continue, and a new unified entity is not created.

Whether one is in a relationship or not, one is still a member of this society, this culture and this country we all belong to. That fact, even if you live in a cave away from civility, places a sense of social responsibility on all of us. So how has the individualism that has been the primary driving force of the advances in science, technology or other areas of expertise, have come to oppose the responsibility towards each other?

In another life, I used to teach courses in assertiveness where it is crucial to understand that one has the right to protect one’s self but does not have the right to override others’ rights. My right ends where your right begins. How has this concept deteriorated?

There are answers to these question that sociologists and philosophers do and will provide as history is written. What is important at this point is that we need to unite as a country, to focus on the common good, to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. It is not a complicated concept. If you love your partner, your family, your child, you look out for them and also for yourself because they do the same for you.

I am old enough to remember the 1967 classic in psychology: “I’m OK – You’re OK” delved into the dynamics of not taking the I win – you lose, or You win – I lose dichotomy. That may work in sports but in human interactions, it is destructive. A relationship or partnership based on win/lose creates enmity and resentments. Let us all, in these challenging times, look out for one another and promote unity in compassion.

(Photo credit: Amoon Ra,

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