A 75-year-old Harvard study revealed the most important factor in human happiness. And that is RELATIONSHIPS.
One of the key study lessons was that it’s the quality of our relationships that matter. “You can be lonely in an office crowd or a marriage,” Dr Waldinger says. “It’s not the number of friends you have; it’s the quality of the close relationships that matters.”
And yet so often one asks oneself ‘Why am I in this relationship?’
Relationships can be messy and can go wrong. And one thing’s for certain: they’re fluid.
It’s always good to take stock of your core relationships and check if the two key pillars are intact. Because when one of these pillars weaken/ disappear, the feeling of frustration, doubt and stagnation creeps in.
If you would like to discuss any of the points covered here, please feel free to request a free call below.
Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:
Why am I in this relationship? This is a very common question, one which we have all come across in our lifetime.
There are moments when someone feels stuck, someone wants to check out, exit, feels frustrated, feels misunderstood and kind of hits a wall and doesn’t know the way forward.
I want to talk about relationships. I’m very aware of the fact that it’s a broad and deep topic but it’s just about reflecting, saying, “how and what can be done to keep relationships fresh, keep them live, keep them progressive?”
So, over the weekend, my friends and I were having this philosophical conversation asking, “what really keeps a relationship intact, safe and growing?” There were two points that we came up with and you might want to make a note of them because I found them very profound.
The first was value alignment. You might have come across the saying “opposites attract” but if you really think about it, it’s not really true. Good relationships have people with similar value systems. They have their core fundamental principles very aligned, very similar, and they appreciate and acknowledge that in each other. So that’s the first one.
The second was that a healthy relationship should provide enough support, enough environment for a person’s growth, which means that in a relationship there must be value alignment and there must be growth for the person who’s involved in the relationship, being supported by the other person.
Now look, you could see this discussion from a business point of view or from a personal point of view, it’s up to you what framework you want to apply to it, but it applies to all relationships.
Reflecting on this, when there is value alignment and when there is the growth happening, there is harmony, there is balance and there is flow. However, let’s imagine that there is value misalignment but there is growth happening. The other person is growing in the relationship, is doing well, achieving his or her purpose but the values don’t match. So, reflect for yourself, what happens then?
We see this in quite a few relationships, for example team members. They are doing well, they are capable, they’re adding to the bottom line of the company, but you might not like their attitude or the approach of the person. You might still decide to stick with this individual because there is a purpose being met. The bottom line is getting positively impacted but the feeling is of frustration. The feeling is of selfishness, of tolerance and compromise. Similarly, in family relationships, people sometimes stay in the relationship because there’s no other growth alternative. They’re kind of stuck, they know they don’t like the individual, but they at least they know that they’ve got an environment where they are growing.
Now, if you think of a scenario where the value alignment is there but growth is stunted because the person is, consciously or unknowingly, stunting the growth of the other individual. Then on a core level, they like each other, there is an emotional bond, but the person wants to do more, they want to achieve more, they want to grow beyond the given self.
When that’s the case, that’s when the other person starts exploring alternatives. They start looking outside of the relationship to see what they could achieve. So, going back to the team member, this is when they start exploring other job opportunities, come back to you with the job offers and you’re kind of stuck.
In families, or other personal relationships, this is when you know there will be conflict. This is where, again, there is frustration, blame and all kinds of things which would not be happening in a good relationship.
Generally, when one of these things go missing or they are not consciously being cultivated and nurtured, the relationship moves to a level where the values are becoming misaligned. The growth is being stunted and at that point people check out. The checking out need not be just physical, sometimes people mentally check out, which I personally think is so much more dangerous because there is just regret, stagnation and unhappiness, which is not what a relationship should provide.
So now going forward, when you are looking at your relationships, professional or personal, if you feel the strain, ask yourself these simple questions:
- Are my values aligned with this person?
- Am I getting enough opportunities to grow as an individual?
Once you have checked these for yourself, make sure you’re also doing the checking for the other person.
- Do I think that the other person is enjoying the value match here?
- Is the other person getting enough opportunity to grow in this relationship?
- Am I providing opportunities?
If the answer to any of these questions is “No”, you know that there is work to be done. You know that strengthening is required. Relationships are like fragile plants, they need to be supported, they need to be nurtured, they need to be watered, they need to be taken care of.
The day you start taking relationships for granted, where you’re not aware of what’s happening then you’re only left with one question, “why am I in this relationship?”
If you would like to discuss or hear more, please feel free to get in touch.