The Signs of Good Relationships

About Human, Society

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When talking about relationships, many people think of cheating. Even if they don’t, they talk about emotional relationships, cheating stories, love advice.

While “human psychology” is searched approximately 6000 times a month in Google, “cheating” is searched 9800 times.

My interest in this has not much to do with cheating or love. My story is a bit different.

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Due to my profession, there are some topics that attract my attention lopsidedly.

One of these topics is “Building Good Relationships”.

Actually if we are to look at this scientifically: It concerns psychology in looking at people’s inner worlds. It relates to social psychology in looking at people’s ways of interaction. Also it involves sociology in understanding groups and mass behaviour and how people build relationships under society and culture.

So this is a very interesting topic for me as a person who dedicated himself to sociology and psychology. But when we look at the literature on this topic, all we see is re-writings of the popular topics of love, affection, finding a partner, cheating again and again; and topics outside these being left out.

Thinking this is a full topics that is especially important for those living in cities, we had decided with the team of Tezgahcilar to design a workshop on this.

Plans came true and we had an excellent workshop of two days in which I re-discovered and learned many things.

After a month has gone by after the workshop, I realized it is time to share some important points and “gems” from the workshop.

1

When I asked how important friendship was, we answered that it is highly important. This friendship included all the relationships we build with people around us, whether emotional or not. I have to confirm that this is a political answer, and it is not very sincere.

That is to say, we know friendship and relationships are important. But out logic as to why they are is limited. So to admit, I think giving an answer like “friendship is important” is an uncomprehending answer.

Although we say good relationships are important, we have a hard time saying why. 

To get the essence of it, one needs to ask the following question. “What are you non-physical (cognitive/spiritual/emotional) needs in your life?” This is a compelling cognitive exercise. But it is enlightening to see all the answers we give are somehow related to our relationships in our environments. Whatever we said we needed the most in life was somehow related to having good relationships.

2

The worst punishment for a person is isolation. As Robin Dunbar demonstrated clearly in his book Human Evolution, the most important quality separating us humans from other livings is that we can organize in masses. (By the way for the attention of those who focus on quality rather than quantity, Dunbar’s findings suggest that one can have 150 true friends or acquaintances the highest.)

This means: if there were beings who had exactly the same physical qualities as us but couldn’t organize in groups of 100+, they would have a very primitive, simple and different life. So the world culture and order today depends first on our ability to collaborate and create networks. It is important to discover how collective we are as beings in today’s world that heavily emphasizes individuality. 

Great works are mostly products of collaboration.

3

“Belonging” is one of the most essential feelings of being human. After discovering how central the need for belonging was; it became possible to view a lot of different issues – such as nationalism, sports fanaticism, people’s obsession with gender definitions and citizenship – under a different light.

We have solved the underlying basis and logic of researches saying loneliness increases the risk of death by 29-32%. We owe our sanity and perception of reality to the feedback and approval we regularly receive from our environment. So we see that asking what the weather is like is not actually about the weather condition. It mostly serves as a conversation-starter.

We have seen with Solomon Asch experiments the element of social pressure and how helpless we are in following the crowd when we are defenseless. It has been a great gain to understand how masses think and feel especially at a period when we are on the streets in masses and we are collectively reacting to both cultural and political issues.

To see the effects of social pressure, take a look at the Solomon Asch Experiment, if you haven’t done so already.  

There are Very Important Issues Beyond Cheating

Apart from these, we had a journey from Epicurus to Aristotle; from Harvard Grant (the biggest happiness research ever made) to Alain de Botton‘s observations; and to John Gottman‘s findings (who does the biggest research on partners).

I have once again realized how every workshop can change and thrive with the interest and involvement of the attending group.

If any of the attendants are reading this, thank you once again for the enjoyable and rich conversation.

Hope to see you in future workshops.

CommonWisdom.

Read on happiness.

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