Relationships

Last Updated on September 22, 2021

We are social animals. Relationships matter. Friends, family, colleagues, lovers. In fact, the quality of our relationships determines our health and happiness. A few slightly structured thoughts on it all.

Love

In modern English, we have the word love. But in Ancient Greek philosophy, the words available are much more granular.

The term eros is used to refer to that part of love constituting a passionate, intense desire for something.

In contrast to the desiring and passionate yearning of eros, philia entails a fondness and appreciation of the other. For the Greeks, the term philia incorporated not just friendship, but also loyalties to family and polis-one’s political community, job, or discipline.

Agape refers to the paternal love of God for man and of man for God but is extended to include a brotherly love for all humanity.

Philosophy of Love

Friendship

Friends are precious. Some of the best times and the biggest laughs of my life have been borne out of the depth of friendship. I think the most hilarious jokes come from great friendship. The kind of jokes that draw together so many different threads!

Friends also are key to working through thoughts, and developing of ideas. This is one of my favorite quotes on the power of the sounding board:

Whosoever hath his mind fraught with many thoughts, his wits and understanding do clarify and break up, in the communicating and discoursing with another; he tosseth his thoughts more easily; he marshalleth them more orderly, he seeth how they look when they are turned into words: finally, he waxeth wiser than himself; and that more by an hour’s discourse, than by a day’s meditation.

Sir Francis Bacon

You can find all of Bacon’s essays including Of Friendship here.

I’ve got a smattering of special friends in Melbourne from high school and university. As I’ve got older, I’ve found out that new adult friends can come from surprising places. I’ve made new ones in different cities around the world, sometimes from a chance meeting in a cafe, crossing paths in a yoga studio or gym, sometimes a neighbor, often a friend of a friend. Some of my most enduring friendships have come of workplaces. Mostly the more challenging workplaces.

Partnering

My partner always says to me, it’s misery or loneliness. Implying that we chose the misery that comes with partnering over the loneliness of being by ourselves. I find that hilarious and true.

A good partnership is not so much one between two healthy people (there aren’t many of these on the planet), it’s one between two demented people who have had the skill or luck to find a non-threatening conscious accommodation between their relative insanities.

Alain De Boton

Gottman & Perel

John & Julie Gottman and Esther Perel are my go-to romantic relationship gurus. Special mention to Dr Sue Johnson too.

Gottman’s Magic Ratio

This is a favorite mental model of mine. I wrote about Gottman’s Magic Ratio here. I also dedicated this issue of my newsletter to Gottman’s Magic Ratio.

Marriage

Modern marriage, what a big topic. I don’t know where to even begin.

For now, a few resources I like:

What about a longevity registry?

In my 20s and 30s I’ve attended quite a lot of weddings. I got to thinking about wedding gifts, and how it might make more sense to gift something that supports the relationship’s longevity – rather than just the next year or two. Instead of the honeymoon fund, maybe a 10 year anniversary-moon fund? A “longevity registry”.

I’m curious to find someone else who has thought about this, or has thoughts about this after reading this.