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The Value of Relationships

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Recently on the forefront of my mind has been the value of relationships. Previously in my life I had worked under the premise that I should not need relationships of any kind, and that to be independent meant to be able to derive as much happiness as I wanted by myself. Well, turns out I became very lonely. So recently I have decided to completely bypass my logic with nothing to go on besides the knowledge that I want to be around people. The contrast has been incredible, and my being lonely has all but vanished from my life.

However, my problem is still that I do not want to rely on other people for my happiness, and so I am at a kind of block where I will not put my full effort into engaging in relationships. I do not want to end up as a person who has thrown so much emotional energy into other people that if they die or if the relationship ends, I will be a complete mess for the rest of my life. I do not want to have to rely on other people for a higher level of happiness; I want to be able to do it myself. Am I just to say that there is a higher level of happiness which cannot be achieved in any other way outside of engaging in relationships? That seems to go against the idea that relationships should not occur unless they are between two completely independent people, which I believe. I prize my independence. But I have also been almost completely crippled by loneliness at points in my life.

Most people seem to just naturally know that relationships are a staple of life. But I'm looking for hard, logical reasons for it. I've been reading through a lot of related threads here, and recently some on 4AynRandFans.com. While they offer some great advice, they seem to operate under the premise that people should want relationships. Well, I don't see the inherent reason. Any ideas or advice?

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I think the error is in holding that relationships are intrinsically good. That's a common belief, and utterly false. It's equally false that relationships are intrinsically worthless. What is true is that specific relationships can be good, and you should seek those relationships and work to maintain them, if they are of real value to you. The hard part is figuring out what it is about some person that makes them a value to you (which means, understand yourself, understand the other guy). Note btw that I've dumped the discussion about relationships, because relationships are intrinsically of no value (huh??), rather, what is of value is a relationship with some person. So focus on the person.

Presumably (but not trivially), when you're with people, there's something good that happens -- what is it? For example, do you hang out with people who can mentally engage you, challenging your intellectual skills? That can be a significant value for some (but not for all). Are these companions witty? Feel free to take a few years to develop answers to these questions. What I think is most important is that you realise that you should be looking for answers to these questions, and that you also not conclude that your only source of happiness and value is the approval of others.

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Just a small comment, something I learned about relationships - romantic or otherwise. Their value cannot be looked at as an investment towards some future goal. You can't "pour in energy" expecting some future return. The value of a relationship is what it is worth to you today.

Looked at that way, a relationship that breaks up at some point or that fails to develop to the "next level" is still a positive, it was worth everything you got out of it until that point. The moment you start sacrificing yourself to the relationship is the moment you start losing (and a relationship based on sacrifice will never "work out in the end" - but you know that).

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I agree with the above posts, so this is more in the nature of simply more "chewing" on independence and friendship...

Previously in my life I had worked under the premise that I should not need relationships of any kind,...
Do you still think this? If so, in what sense? After all, it depends on what exactly one means by "need". Friendships aren't as vital as food and air. However, they're pretty high up there. It's true that "man does not live by bread alone".[As an aside: I've heard some people say that if one does not have friends, one might need an enemy or two -- the "visibility" isn't just the same, but it's better than nothing. This might be bad psychology, but I don't think it is obviously so.]
...that to be independent meant to be able to derive as much happiness as I wanted by myself.
Rather than "by oneself", it's about "with oneself as the primary". Independence in association, for instance, does not mean "stop trading", but rather "trade value for value". [if it is a trade, you are not being a dependent on the other person.] Similarly, independence does not mean "do not ask another person their opinion", it means accepting their opinion only for the right reasons, i.e. when you find it makes sense, i.e. when you -- the primary -- decide they are right. And, in friendship, independence does not mean "do not get 'spiritual' values from others", it just means your friends should be people you want as friends rather than being people who are friends just because you need friends. So, independence comes from the fact that you decide what is of value to you, that and you trade value for value.
Well, turns out I became very lonely..
Man is a social animal, so it stands to reason that one would be severely "value-deprived" without friends. One could still gain great values from one's work, but a whole category of values would be missing. Before I'm flamed, I'll admit that an Objectivist would not normally say "man is a social animal", without a whole lot of qualifications, lest it be misunderstood to mean what it typically is taken to mean: that other people are a primary source of value. Friends are a hugely important value, and yet not primary. The concept of primary requires one to think through cause and effect, figuring out what part is the underlying cause and what part is the effect.
So recently I have decided to completely bypass my logic with nothing to go on besides the knowledge that I want to be around people.
Congrats! That was a good move. Exploring the contexts where this is the right approach might make an interesting thread in it's own right.
Am I just to say that there is a higher level of happiness which cannot be achieved in any other way outside of engaging in relationships?
I'm not sure about "levels" but there is definitely an important type of happiness that one would miss without the right relationships.
That seems to go against the idea that relationships should not occur unless they are between two completely independent people, which I believe.
There are many degrees of relationships, from casual acquaintance to close friend, and soul mate. I think that rather than saying that the two people must be independent for a good social-relationship, it's more accurate to say they should be independent in the context of that friendship. In other words, I might have a casual relationship with a guy who likes to play bridge, and I enjoy his company playing bridge as he does mine. If I value his acquaintance because I like to play bridge with him, rather than playing bridge with him simply because I need the company of somebody/anybody, and if he does the same, then the relationship is independent, even if he and I aren't very independent people away from the bridge table. (Caveat: This does not imply that I could be his bridge-playing buddy if he was Hitler.)

Similarly, for closer relationships, they are independent if they are based on mutual value. The notion of independence in a social relationship is just another way of saying: it should be based on mutual value, which is just another way of saying: you should be trading spiritual values, not mooching them. It is also a way of saying: choose you friends, and choose them wisely.

I prize my independence. But I have also been almost completely crippled by loneliness at points in my life.
And, those two things are not contradictory, except if you find that there is nobody you like for any reason whatsoever. If that were to be the case, then one might say: "I prize my independence, but there's nobody I really like. So, either I'm going to be lonely, or I'm going to enter into relationships with complete jerks or where I do not trade value for value." However, if you associate with people for the right reasons, you maintain your independence and have good relationships. This does not even mean that you have to associate only with heroes or even people who are "at least as good as you are" on the whole; what's important is whether things are equal in the relationship itself. That is, examine the reasons for the friendship, not the totality of the person.

However, my problem is still that I do not want to rely on other people for my happiness, and so I am at a kind of block where I will not put my full effort into engaging in relationships. I do not want to end up as a person who has thrown so much emotional energy into other people that if they die or if the relationship ends, I will be a complete mess for the rest of my life. I do not want to have to rely on other people for a higher level of happiness; I want to be able to do it myself. ...
Think about how much you "rely" on others to grow your food, bring it to your city, stock shelves with it, deliver electricity, make movies, write books, and so on. You trade value for value in the sphere of material goods; but, you still "rely" on this huge system of division of labor that stretches around the globe today. Would it be a good idea to live like an ascetic in a mountain-hut, disavowing all these material goods, as a way to be more independent? No. And, by analogy, why walk away from the spiritual values that other people have to offer? As long as it is real value, and as long as you give as good as you get, you are independent. In the material sphere, the dependent would be the person wants something simply because someone else likes it, or who gives no value in return: perhaps he steals or he mooches off all the producers. Similarly, you should not be dependent in your friendships, but that simply means do not try to weasle your way into someone's friendship, nor do whatever it takes just to make others be your friend.

Take an analogy of an author or an architect. If their focus is on creating the best possible book or building, and they would love people to see it for what it is and love it as they do, then they are independent. However, if their focus is on how they can make it so that people will like it, then (in most contexts) they are not.

Take another example. Suppose one posts an article to a forum and someone who's reasoning one usually disagrees with, says "Great post" and offers no other reason for why they thought it great, would you feel complimented? If you're independent, you would not. (One might actually feel a bit uneasy, like "let me re-read that; what did I do wrong"). So, if you're independent, you're not seeking approval, but approval for the right reasons. However, those right reasons are right in your own judgement; so, the approval you seek is really a reflection of your own.

But I'm looking for hard, logical reasons for it.... Well, I don't see the inherent reason.
I think the value of friendship traces back up the heirarchy to self-esteem/pride. Let's assume we're speaking of good, independent, value-based friendships. You love it when your friend Galt pats you on the back and says, "well done". However, that is because he is Galt. If you want these "well dones" indiscriminately from any man on the street, then we're back to "dependence mode".

So, let's assume you value Galt's approval because it comes from him and because he gives it to you for the right reasons. This begs the questions: how do you know he's the good guy? how do you know it's the right reasons? The answer is: you know it by your own judgement. So, following this chain of causality, one finds that one values the judgement of someone one respects, because one values them in ones judgement. If that sounds circular, it is. In essence, their judgement is merely reflection of your own.

Test this idea out by thinking of someone you respected and who did or said something that suddenly brought them down a notch in your eyes. You would probably find that -- at least in the areas where you no longer respect them so much -- their opinion and approval would mean less to you.

So, the value your close friends have for you is a reflection of your own valuing. It goes "outbound" in the form of your judgement of them, framing them as valued judges, and then they pronounce you to be of value. This is what people mean when they say that your close friends are a "reflection" of your own values.

In essence, friendship is an important concrete way of experiencing self-esteem.

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I think the error is in holding that relationships are intrinsically good. That's a common belief, and utterly false. It's equally false that relationships are intrinsically worthless. What is true is that specific relationships can be good, and you should seek those relationships and work to maintain them, if they are of real value to you.

I think that relationships are a value is the same way that food is:

Not all food is good for you, and among the nutritious food, there is excellent food, and healthy but not tasty food. But food is intrinsically good.

I see relationships as being the same. Humans have a psychological need to be with other (certain) human beings. It can be argued that the need only arises when certain values are present (intellectual challenge, humour, etc'), but I think that even if one is never introduced to those things, one is still able to realize that they are possible (in a relationship), which creates a psychological need for such a relationship in which those values can be found.

The problem is when you have the need for a certain relationship but what you are offered in reality is a lot less. Haha, that's when it gets tricky.

Another interesting thing is emotional responses to traits: I have wondered what is the reason that I cannot have the same emotional response to the traits that I like when I am aware of their existence in myself, but when I see them in someone else, it produces a powerful emotional response.

The presence of such traits in myself produces a deep satisfaction and pride, sometimes admiration as well, but when these traits are present in someone else it produces affection, admiration or love, that I cannot feel for myself in the same way. Strange... I wonder why that is.

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But food is intrinsically good.
My objection has to do with the idea of intrinsic value. Intrinsic value is value "found" only within the thing itself, that is, without regard to external contextual factors, that is, it's good no matter what. Grass is good food for cows, not so good for people; meat is good food for people, bad for cows. Context is really the essential difference between intrinsic and objective value. I just can't make any sense of the idea of value devoid of a standard of value.
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for all of the responses! They are helping while I try to think through this.

Presumably (but not trivially), when you're with people, there's something good that happens -- what is it? For example, do you hang out with people who can mentally engage you, challenging your intellectual skills? That can be a significant value for some (but not for all). Are these companions witty? Feel free to take a few years to develop answers to these questions. What I think is most important is that you realise that you should be looking for answers to these questions, and that you also not conclude that your only source of happiness and value is the approval of others. [bold added]
I have to admit I laughed out loud at this. A few years to me seems like a very long time!

I may have identified my main issue being with the "intrinsic" value of relationships, where I think there is "intrinsic" value. Meaning, the value isn't entirely divorced from a human context, as I know there is no value where there is no context, but any sort of human interaction seems to fill a very important or necessary psychological void for me. So much so that the less interaction I have with people, it seems the more irritable and moody I become. I would like to believe that the trader principle carries over to relationships, but at times it seems like I am almost desperate for human interaction, so notions like choosing my friends doesn't always come into play.

softwareNerd, your post was full of excellent information and clarification for me. I had never considered the value I gain from friendship as just one of many ways my life is better because of other people. The idea that "lesser" relationships are still good (mrocktor, your post was helpful here, too) is a view I have only recently ascribed to, so I was glad to read you expound ("independent" relationships, beyond independent people. Although before these different types of relationships can happen, any person must have a certain level of personal independence, at least enough for the relationship to function). And the explanation for friendship being a "concrete way of experiencing self-esteem" was especially good.

But I do not want to need friendships or human discourse just to function properly, ie. in order to not get moody, or in order to cancel out loneliness. That takes the person out of the equation entirely, since it's just some general "human thing" I need, and a person's character does not matter. I can't say whether it is only me personally who has this problem, and so there is some erroneous premise I am holding waiting to be corrected, or if everyone else would react similarly if not for their already-established relationships.

Edited by softwareNerd
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First I would like to say, that your post, sNerd, was the best one I ever read on the forum. You said that a "well done" from a friend is a value: well, well done!

(no need to reply and all)

I would like to believe that the trader principle carries over to relationships, but at times it seems like I am almost desperate for human interaction, so notions like choosing my friends doesn't always come into play.

But I do not want to need friendships or human discourse just to function properly, ie. in order to not get moody, or in order to cancel out loneliness. That takes the person out of the equation entirely, since it's just some general "human thing" I need, and a person's character does not matter.

Do you have a central purpose in your life? I mean like a career you are aiming at, and becoming more and more good at it?

From my experience, the happiness you are looking for, derived from yourself alone, can be achieved through such a devotion to a career you love. Do you have any field of interest that you pursue in a professional way?

Now, I don't say that after you have happiness with yourself you loose the craving to meet someone you can admire and enjoy their company. Actually, the need for such a value becomes worse :thumbsup: . But it becomes easier to wait for it as well.

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Do you have a central purpose in your life? I mean like a career you are aiming at, and becoming more and more good at it?
Actually, that is another "big issue" I am working toward resolving. The gist is that I have a lot of interests and ability, and I am having trouble narrowing and defining a main direction. Every so often I think, "Oh the hell with it, I'm going this way!", which is usually followed by a quick understanding as to why I should not go "that way," for one reason or another.

I figured I would try to resolve one issue at a time.

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Maybe you need to introspect a little more, asking yourself what you are getting from the specific relationships you have. I've already made the case for why friends are great. So, I'm taking your word that there's something about your situation that you are not comfortable with. I think one has to introspect one step further, (figure out the next layer), asking yourself why you enjoy these relationships?

I figured I would try to resolve one issue at a time.
They may be related though. I don't know that they are, but it's just a possibility. For instance, could it be that if you did not have all these relationships, your life would have significantly fewer values than you need to keep you happy? While Ifat mentioned central purpose, I'd tone it down to simply: purpose. If it's tough to answer the question: "what would you enjoy spending the bulk of your time on?", try to simplify it for now by asking, "what are the few things I really like to spend my time on, even if I do not have a passion for any one of them".

Rand wasn't kidding when she put purpose right up among the top three things people need to be happy. In essence, this insight does not come by deductions based on "life is the standard". It comes from looking at the people across history and figuring out what was good and what was bad, what gave them a temporary high and what gave them an enduring happiness. (Purpose is so critical that even the religious guys see it as clear as daylight. Except they use this human "need" by getting their audience to adopt purposes of their own.)

In a lecture a long while ago, Andrew Bernstein asked the audience: what are your values? Then, he asked: are you acting to gain or keep them? The odd thing was that many people weren't acting to gain or keep the things they thought were their values. Ask yourself the same question: what very concrete things you do want to act to gain and/or keep? Learn Hebrew? Fly a plane? Discover the cure to cancer? Play in the World Series? Be physically fit? Know Karate? Be a gourmet cook? Understand the history of the middle-east? ... .whatever. Even if nothing long term comes to mind, think of shorter-term values. Even if none of those is a great value, list the ones that are lesser values. [Keep your friendships out of this exercise; you already know those are values.] If this type of exercise yields a blank or a tiny list of a few very luke-warm interests, then it might (repeat, might) indicate the source of your discomfort.

The question you're trying to answer is: "do I have so few values in my life other than my friends, that I would not know what to do with myself if I didn't have those friends?" If not, then why aren't you facing the opposite situation, as in: "I have so many things I want to do that I don't have the time to pursue these friendships that I really enjoy."

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  • 3 weeks later...
Another interesting thing is emotional responses to traits: I have wondered what is the reason that I cannot have the same emotional response to the traits that I like when I am aware of their existence in myself, but when I see them in someone else, it produces a powerful emotional response.

The presence of such traits in myself produces a deep satisfaction and pride, sometimes admiration as well, but when these traits are present in someone else it produces affection, admiration or love, that I cannot feel for myself in the same way. Strange... I wonder why that is.

I'm going to go off on quite a bit of a tangent from the issue of relationships, but your comment provided me with a perfect opportunity to take a bunch of stuff bouncing around in my head and to run with it. Here goes:

The mind possesses an uncanny ability to deal with knowledge that is derived from an enormous amount of information while simultaneously being able to differentiate it from another connected, and also very large body of knowledge. The way this differentiation is expressed is through emotion. To a certain point, your mind is performing the same tasks to produce the feeling of admiration that it would be if you were experiencing your own admirable trait. Feelings like admiration come from an understanding of what is worth admiring. This produces admiration in both your own accomplishments as well as another's. This understanding is the result of a huge amount of thinking that must be done if the admiration is to be expressed towards someone deserving of it. This process works up to a certain point. After that, deeper considerations come into play and in turn, deeper, more delicate emotions are evoked.

In your case, those considerations seem to be a healthy, internalized sense of where your existence ends and the existence of others begins that keeps your love of self distinct from your love of others. The concious recognition of this is a gigantic intellectual achievement, but it is not what the mind uses to keep you from behaving irrationally in the heat of the moment. Even if you and another are very similar, or even identical in some narrow respect, your emotional template is tuned well enough towards that knowledge to always recall that there is a difference between "me" and "you." The opposite of this - the failure to consistently recognize that individuals are distinct and independent - is a notorious phenomenon called enmeshment or co-dependency that is responsible for corroding many relationships as well as the individuals involved in them.

If a person fails to do this thinking he will not experience the response appropriate to a given situation. If someone, for example, accepts that athletic ability is to be admired simply because those around seems to admire it, when he experiences expectional feats of athleticism, the emotion produced will resemble admiration but what will really be experienced is relief. Relief from the anxiety that he is "normal" in his enjoyment of sports. When this person tells himself "I feel admiration" even though he actually feels relief, the message his subconcious recieves is much different. What the mind interprets this lie to mean is to not trust itself and to instead delegate what it knows to be true - that relief from anxiety just occured - to what it wants to be true - admiration was just felt.

Though horrible as it is, this sort of self-deception is mild compared to the deeper, sweeping deception taking place within this individual's psyche as a result. Instead of conciously considering the question "Am I a distinct individual?" and ironically shrugging it off as abnormal, he allows it to be answered piece-meal through an endless string of haphazard adjustments meant to appease any number of short-term considerations. After years of forcing this or that reaction to the surface just to appear normal, it's hardly surprising that any sincere emotion he feels is the result of another's behavior. There has never been any honest building of his emotional template, and so it follows that his emotions felt personally and those expressed socially, regardless of his ability to mask them as positive, become completely indistinguishable. What he feels inside is an incomprehensible emptiness created by the empty, or at least never understood, experiences of his life.

This is not to say that a properly emotionally integrated person would behave differently in private than he would in public. Rather, that he would be incapable of behaving precisely the same towards others as he does himself. The emotions resulting from his own assesment of his character would be so unique, so precious, that even if he were to try, he could not extend them fully to that of another.

- Grant

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I do not want to have to rely on other people for a higher level of happiness; I want to be able to do it myself.
You can't.

Am I just to say that there is a higher level of happiness which cannot be achieved in any other way outside of engaging in relationships?
Yes.

Most people seem to just naturally know that relationships are a staple of life. But I'm looking for hard, logical reasons for it.

I suggest you look for hard, emotional reasons for it.

Edited by Free Capitalist
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Could you please elaborate? How would someone use their emotions to define a person's worth, and whether the person should be valued?

No that's not what I said (although you can use emotions there too, and in fact use them far more than reasoned processes).

What I did say here in regards to emotion was: you asked for "hard, logical reasons" for why people engage in relationships. I suppose I could tell you here Aristotle's definition that human beings are social animals (a hard, logical reason). But what suffices for most people is that they simply derive pleasure and joy from some other person's company -- and that emotional reason is entirely enough.

Edited by Free Capitalist
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  • 5 months later...

I believe also that Ayn Rand herself stated in one of her works that who you value in a relationship should have equal values in turn. Such as a thief will not see value in becoming close to a police officer. However, there is one thing that you have to realize as well. You can be independent and have a relationship with someone. What's more is if you get into a relationship with a person who is independent as well. I got married to one of the most independent women that I've ever met. This also holds true to friendships.

This pretty much holds true for close personal relationships (such as marriage) to friendship.

Now the other question that usually arises is: Is it necessary? The answer is no. it's not a requirement. However, never think that it is a bad thing if you find someone you love, or enjoy the companionship that shares your views and values. While you don't absolutely have to have it. It doesn't mean that you can't have it or that it's a bad thing.

Sorry for the short, or even moreso vague post. I've been awhile (over a year since I've posted here). I hope this helps.

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  • 1 year later...
I have to admit I laughed out loud at this. A few years to me seems like a very long time!

Well, lookie here! It's been almost two years (hehe) time flys by fast, eh ;)

I just wanted to give this thread a bump because I think it's really concise and a clear analysis of the issue and perhaps deserving of another read-through! :)

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Well, lookie here! It's been almost two years (hehe) time flys by fast, eh :D
Two years, and I didn't even notice! At my wise old age of 24, that is one thing I see differently now: life doesn't seem so monumental or rushed, because everything progresses gradually, no matter what. Everything takes some getting used to for a bit. I suppose I have recognized some new perspective.

At the time of my original post, my general idea toward relationships had been that they shouldn't be pursued, but if so, tentatively. I really hadn't the first clue about general social interaction, and I had only a rough idea about engaging with people that I liked (to varying degrees). I also thought that relationships were all-or-nothing; either the person was "perfect" (philosophically consistent, funny, happy, whatever), or I should have nothing to do with him.

With the issue of etiquette, I'd developed some serious habits of being rude by default (I can't begin to analyze why), but it became clear to me that politeness was the way to go. (David Odden in another thread had posted (paraphrasing) that it would take an awful lot to get him to treat a person not like a person. That was a key comment for me. Also, Burgess Laughlin somewhere on the internet wrote that etiquette is a way for people to interact more easily. I myself would now describe etiquette as "social oil.") Being polite (at minimum) reinforces a base level of human respect, which is implied in all civilized interactions with people. Well, I lacked that respect in the first place, so after I realized my mistake, and with some conscious practice being polite for six months or so, it became easier and easier, until being polite was habit. At first it seemed foreign, and I would "fake it 'till I make it." Sometimes (now rarely), I "slip," and say or do something that is jarring to another party, or just plain rude. I can see it immediately in their faces, so I either apologize (which I did a lot those first six months), or more commonly now I counter what I'd just said with some very choice follow-up comments, and it usually turns the looks into something more pleasant or normal. :)

With the issue of "relationships," I ran with the ideas, in conjunction, that there are an infinite variety of "good" relationships (since, with a given context of civility, there are infinite ways to trade spiritually with people), that they are all good only right now (since people change) although "right now" can last a long time, that more valuable relationships have more (quantifiable) values (imagine!), and that I could figure all of this out with practice. I have found all of those things to be true.

At the same time, I was also nearing the end of decisions concerning my career, which then added a lot to my self esteem. So in harmony, I understood relationships much better than I had, I became more pleased with myself because of that (and my career decisions), and I then had more to offer to prospective friends, or what I already had to offer was now more palatable. I think I considered relationships as intrinsically valuable because I just didn't understand them, and because my opinion of myself wasn't that great.

Of course, I'll figure out more as I go. Thanks a lot again to those who replied, you helped me out. Especially sNerd, re-reading your posts was just as good as before; your explanation of how friendship is "an important concrete way of experiencing self-esteem" was really fantastic, and I just didn't get it before.

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  • 11 months later...

This is a valuable thread. I especially like this comment from David:

I think the error is in holding that relationships are intrinsically good. That's a common belief, and utterly false. It's equally false that relationships are intrinsically worthless. What is true is that specific relationships can be good, and you should seek those relationships and work to maintain them, if they are of real value to you. The hard part is figuring out what it is about some person that makes them a value to you (which means, understand yourself, understand the other guy). Note btw that I've dumped the discussion about relationships, because relationships are intrinsically of no value (huh??), rather, what is of value is a relationship with some person. So focus on the person.

I'm wrestling with the idea of independence and dependence in relationships. It isn't really dependence to need human companionship, that's just an aspect of identity as a human being. Could a person be happy and fully human if they were unable to contact other humans, the marooned-on-an-island scenario? Or in other words, suppose one could not find anyone with whom they cared to exchange values, would happiness be possible? Or, would that situation, of not being able to find suitable humans or any at all, be inherently deficient for a member of the human species, as it would if, say, one had to live in an ugly environment all one's life, or on a subsistence diet, or something like that?

I am considering that the central concept in properly independent relationships is not whether one needs to have any--we do-- but whether one chooses consciously to have a particular kind. Perhaps it is something like the food analogy--it is better to eat good food than poison, and sometimes it is better to be hungry for a while rather than risk eating something that would compromise one's life, but that does not negate the need for food.

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Could a person be happy and fully human if they were unable to contact other humans, the marooned-on-an-island scenario? Or in other words, suppose one could not find anyone with whom they cared to exchange values, would happiness be possible? Or, would that situation, of not being able to find suitable humans or any at all, be inherently deficient for a member of the human species, as it would if, say, one had to live in an ugly environment all one's life, or on a subsistence diet, or something like that?

It's not appropriate to use the word "deficient" to describe an environment that lacks the opportunity to pursue *optional* values--if that were the case I'd be living in a "deficient" environment because I don't have the spaceship I want. You can be happy and fully human even if you never get some things that you want due to circumstances beyond your control. Happiness isn't a binary state, it's a continuum. The fact that, given different circumstances you could be *more* happy than you are now doesn't make you *unhappy* any more than the fact that you can have 5000 kelvins means that 4000 isn't hot.

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  • 3 months later...

I am a young man like you and have had romantic experiences that have gone bad fast due to overall immaturity and lack of value similarities. The best advice I can give you is to run as fast as you can at the first sign that you see something you do not like. Ideally, you'll be with someone that is malleable in the sense that they will respond well to positive criticism. Every human being is continually growing, and it seems like the more trust that is invoked in that relationship in regards to response to positive criticism, the longer it will last. Very few people are well versed in Objectivism, and even fewer people are versed in Objectivism and secure in themselves and a potentially great fit for you. Ideally this person's sense of life will be similar to yours. If you enjoy taking care of your body, you probably will not do well with someone who chooses not to.

No one said that companionship like this is necessary. I am not at all pressured to get involved with anyone right now. The best relationships are the ones that require the least work. I would probably say that Donald Trump is in the ideal relationship, where one person does not directly interfere with the other and cause unnecessary conflicts. I'm not Donald Trump, but that is the kind of relationship you want. Make sure your to be girlfriend responds positively under conflict/pressure. You will thank me forever for testing that last bit of advice early in whatever relationship you get into. If there is one quality you want in a girlfriend, it is that. If this is not the case, you will be expending more energy than the relationship is worth. It is never idea to invest yourself completely in someone who has the power to play with your emotions though. All said, you are the only person to do the benefit/risk analysis at this point in your life given its context including your own wants. I can't convince you that coca cola is better than pepsi and probably no one can.

Edited by MoralParadise
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