Since I work with divorcing people, I am often asked: “What makes a good relationship?” I wonder myself. Don’t you? Any question I am asked I put out to Spirit for an answer. The answers start coming in odd ways, by that I mean, ways I do not expect. The first answers that show up are what ‘it’ (whatever ‘it’ is) is not. Even though I’d rather just have The Answer, knowing what ‘it’ isn’t does get me closer to knowing what it is.

Here are a few things I know that a good relationship is not:

  • Pretending to be something you aren’t or that you have something you don’t.
  • Closing your eyes to behaviors or clashes between you and hoping they won’t matter in the long run.
  • Focusing on only the good parts and “white-knuckling” it through the uncomfortable stuff that happens in a relationship.

So What Does Make a Good Relationship?

Friendship is key. Relationship Expert John Gottman tells us that the best relationships have a friendship base. But what does that mean? We’re a pretty disconnected bunch. We can be connected online but that doesn’t help us in the field of human relationships.

Here are some traits of friendship I’ve thought of:

  • Thinking the best about each other
  • Standing with and for your friend, i.e. having their back
  • Challenging goofy assumptions and behaviors
  • Being challenged for having goofy assumptions and behaviors
  • Staying in loving communication, that is, remaining connected even during disagreements
  • Being honest and staying current with feelings
  • Being fully yourself
  • Asking for what you want
  • Saying no if your soul wants that
  • Caring about the others’ experience

(If you think of others I hope you’ll share them with me.)

Just imagine a relationship based on those friendship characteristics? There isn’t anything on that list about pretending, or closing your eyes to behaviors and clashes, or focusing on only the good stuff, or lashing out, or control, or manipulation, or abuse, many of which are present in far too many relationships.

So as you’re out there exploring relationship territory again, see if it appeals to you to build a foundation of friendship first. Without a firm foundation the building that rises from it will be kittywompus. That’s why it’s such a great idea to have a base of non-romantic friendships before entering the dating world again. I love having great friends, don’t you?