What do you look for in a relationship?

In my previous post, [What do you look for in a relationship?], I asked whether you agree with that the basic purpose of relationships is as follows:

“We look for relationships that make us better people,” says Gary Lewandowski, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Monmouth University USA, “and we’re looking for partners who’ll be able to improve who we are.”

I agree with the statement above.

There are 2 types of improvement which I call absolute improvement, relative improvement and perceived improvement.

Relative improvement is easy to understand. There is measurable improvement compared to a previous state. E.g. A poor woman from a third-world country marries a Singaporean man who earns average income, her standard of living improves.

Perceived improvement is about how the person sees himself or how other people see him.
A rich man marries a beautiful woman, and people envy him for that. But as to whether he's really better off marrying her than being single, that's a different story - we have to go back to measuring relative improvement in his financial, physical and psychological states. Improvement can be financial, physical or psychological; tangible or intangible.

If people don't have much to offer in terms of appearance and finances, we would at least expect them to be able to fulfil some of our psychological needs so that we feel there is some improvement in our lives. Now, psychological needs vary from person to person and may also vary at different points in their lives. A sense of humour may be all it takes to satisfy a person. But note that not everyone seeks to be loved and appreciated. Self-destructive people may seek out partners who abuse them - a partner who fulfils their need to be abused. In a strange way, they actually feel better when they are abused. [Read more about abusive relationships here]

In every relationship, there's always some form of sacrifice, compromise or effort involved. In a worthwhile relationship, the improvement in our lives must outweigh the sacrifices, compromises and effort, i.e. the net effect must be an improvement.

People who don't understand this concept is unlikely to have fruitful relationships or friends.

Related post:
[Nobody gives something for nothing]


i agree totally. just got out of an emotionally destructive relationship, gonna retrieve my belongings and start anew. :)

Anonymous said...

"People who don't understand this concept (improvement) is unlikely to have fruitful relationships or friends".

Absolutely! But improvement must be in the good positive sense, not the perverted kind.

I dont see how a sickness as in finding contentment when being abused is an improvement when ultimately it is a form of self destruction. The only "improvement" is in the life of the happy abuser.

silli cat

Soft Release said...

I look
FOR love
TO love
so that we can both grow
IN love.

The rest falls a distant 2nd position to the above.

Anonymous said...

Soft Release,

You are a die-hard romantic. I am a believer too but I am skeptical.
Why? Coz if there is such a wonderful person like you, there is bound to be another just like you for a mate.

The trouble is can you ever meet such a person? It's not impossible but improbable. But I still wish you every opportunity.

silli cat

Yu-Kym said...

pinky, good to hear you are out of it. I wish you peace and happiness :)

silli cat, some people might be naturally "perverted", just as some need to be slapped around in bed to feel sexually satisfied.

Soft Release, can you define what you mean by "love". "Love" means different things to different people. To me, people who say that they want "love" are saying that they want everything that they need to feel and have but they don't know what they want exactly.

David said...


You are correct when you state; "Self-destructive people may seek out partners who abuse them - a partner who fulfils their need to be abused. In a strange way, they actually feel better when they are abused."

The unfortunate man or women brought up by an abusive parent(s), often choose similar parteners. Some experts relate this to the Stockholm Syndrome.

The fact is that most normal and happy relationships do improve both individuals. In healthy relationships one can calmy talk about habits or behaviours that can be changed without taking offense.

Like businesses needing to improve processes to be competitive, people need to improve to be a better person and enjoy the fruits of what can develop into mature adult relations.


The human race is divided into two classes--those who go ahead
and do something, and those who sit still and inquire, quot;Why
wasn't it done the other way?

-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Yu-Kym said...

There are some people who would rather not improve themselves though!

David said...


"There are some people who would rather not improve themselves though!"

There might be some truth in your statement. However what one person considers an improvement, an observer might see the opposite.

I recently spent two mornings helping at a warming center at my Church. This winter has been very cold with many days with temps below 0C, and nights as cold as -15C.

For a variety of reasons there are homeless people with no place to sleep. Area churches and voluteer organizations have nightime warming centers where such unfortunates can sleep without fear of freezing to death.

While most of these people want to work or work part-time. I was told that there a small number of homeless, some very educated, who are happy to live in shelters and off what is given to them.

Most of us would say those who choose live such an impoverished life are not improving. It would be interesting to talk to such people and hear their motivations.


No rock is so hard but that a little wave may beat admission in
a thousand years.

-- Lord Tennyson Alfred

Anonymous said...

Except of course the eccentric, the crazy and what have you, who is to say that those normal people who wish to live a simple perhaps even impoverished existence are not improving or need to improve?

As long as they are happy and contented, who has the right to judge them wrong? keke

I actually admire and salute these people who need so little to be happy in this world of plenty.

silli cat