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Let's face it, relationships are hard work. But as human beings we need to be in relationship: we have an inbuilt biological drive to be in contact with other human beings. 

As children we grow up in a complex matrix of relationships which to a large degree will shape who we become as adults.

Later, we dream about romantic relationships; as teenagers we get excited about our first attempts at sexual relationships, and these first sexual encounters are an important rite of passage into adulthood.

As adults we look for committed, long term relationships, and most of us envisage happiness as being part of a relationship (whatever that may look like).

What no-one ever tells us is that relationships are hard work. You could compare a relationship to a dance between two partners (or in some less orthodox cases more than two) where each partner is listening to a different tune and rhythm and they are dancing according to a different set of steps.

To make the endeavor workable, possibly even graceful and good fun, a lot of resilience, trust, negotiation, willingness to compromise, skill and humor is needed.

Again, this isn't really stuff that is taught to us beforehand, and we often believe that a relationship is supposed to save us from all our problems, rather than throw all our failings into greater relief.

So where does that leave us? Probably with a lot to learn, but also with a great opportunity for personal growth and shared happiness.

The bottom line for me is that when relationships do work they are fun and a source of great pleasure and security, but when they don't they can make one rather miserable.

On the whole, though, they do work - or at least can be made to work -  with the right skills, and in co-operation with your partner. And for many of us, few things in life seem to be as worthwhile as investing in one's relationship.


Let's just start somewhere....

Relationship skills are a vast topic and good websites take a lot of time to construct. Please be patient with us as we slowly improve our list of available resources:


If you're having persistent trouble with your relationships, we do recommend counseling as a good way to re-establish the lines of communicating and harmony within an intimate relationship.

For general advice on finding a therapist or counselor, check out (in the UK) BACP and (in the USA) American Counseling.

Some wise words on the way

This is a poem by Adrienne Rich, who captures so much of our human struggle and need to be in relationship:

On Love

An honorable human relationship - that is one in which two people have the right to use the word "love" - is a process,

Delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.

It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.

It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.

It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.

Adrienne Rich

Last updated 08.02.14

August 02, 2014




Men's Health Problems

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