> Principles that Keep Good Relationships Alive




Principles that Keep Good Relationships Alive

Principles that Keep Good Relationships Alive

“We’ll explore the general principles that can keep good relationships from falling apart.

There are three principles that I find helpful to remember:

1. Don’t think in terms of groups. As we saw in the Group Trap chapter, groups don’t think, act, or have motivations; only individuals do. It’s misleading to think of a group as being of one mind and purpose. Each individual is different from every other individual.

2. Limit the relationship to what you have in common. Don’t expect more from the relationship than what is in the self-interest of each person involved. When you extend the relationship beyond the areas of mutual self-interest, someone will have to sacrifice.

3. Don’t attempt to perpetuate a relationship by contract. Change is inevitable. Alternatives, knowledge, and desires change. Any relationship should last only as long as it’s beneficial to each party. If an individual is required to continue in a relationship past the time it’s beneficial to him, he loses. And it won’t be possible for him to satisfy the needs of anyone else in the relationship if he’s acting out of duty and not enthusiasm.

Each relationship should be taken on its own merits. The relationship should evolve as it will — with no preconceived goals, structure, expectations, or rules.

If you find a friend that’s closer to you than anyone you’ve known, don’t get carried away and try to impose your separate, different tastes upon him. If you fall in love, don’t expect that every interest, every decision, and every value will be exactly the same between you. If you can accept the differences that exist between you and those you care for, you can make the most of what you have together. If you try to overcome the differences, you’ll only make it harder to enjoy the things you do have together.

Perhaps the three principles can be summed up as one important principle: Let others be free. Don’t try to tie them down with obligations, loyalties, duties, commitments, or appeals for sympathy. Make it your policy that you don’t expect anyone to do what isn’t in his self-interest.

Your freedom and the freedom of those you deal with are equally important to you. If people come to you because they freely want to, you’ll receive more genuine love, friendship, understanding, and appreciation than you could possibly get by asking for it or demanding it.”

- How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World (Harry Browne)

The Paradox of Freedom and Monopoly in Relationships

“The answer to the problem of restrictions is to find the relationship in which they’re unnecessary. When you find someone who is not only attractive and interesting, but very appropriate to you in most every way, you won’t need restrictions. Competition will be irrelevant or absent if you find someone who wants and needs exactly what you are. The urge to restrict stems from a feeling of vulnerability — the fear that someone else might offer more of what your lover wants and take attention away from you. If there isn’t an overwhelming mutual self-interest between you and your lover, you’ll continue to have that fear — no matter what restrictions are imposed.

But if your relationship is the result of mutual understanding, mutual interests, mutual views of the world — in short, if your lover is also your best friend — you won’t need restrictions because you’ll have very little to fear. You’ll have a natural monopoly upon the attentions of your lover. And one of the ways of creating that is by letting him be free. If he can be free with you — free to say what he means, free to express his desires and secret feelings (even when they involve attraction to others), free to see whomever he chooses, free to do as he wants to do — then he’ll have less need to seek out others. He’ll be getting from you most everything he needs. You’ll be the most important person in his world.

The paradox, in a sense, is that he’ll probably stay closer to home if you don’t demand that he stay home. If you have a natural monopoly, access to others will be valuable to the relationship. For the more your lover associates with others, the more he’ll be aware that he gets much more from you than he can get from them. Only by being with others can he see that clearly. But if you restrict his relationships, the opposite can happen. At a distance, many people can appear to be attractive, appropriate — even perfect. All their virtues will beckon, but none of their drawbacks will be apparent. That’s an undesirable position for you to be in; you’re being unrealistically compared with an ideal image. Let him go and find that out for himself.”

- How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World (Harry Browne)