post written by: Marc Chernoff

9 Things Your Relationships Need From You


9 Things Your Relationships Need From You

There is greatness and beauty in doing something
inconvenient for the sake of someone you care about.

All relationships require work.  They don’t just materialize and maintain themselves, and they aren’t built on a foundation of convenience either.  They take time and patience and two people who are willing to put in the effort.

Here’s how to do your part – nine things your relationships need from you:

1.  Attention

Neglect based on lack of attention damages relationships far more often than malicious abuse.  There’s nothing more vital to the bond you share with others than simply being there for them.

When we pay attention to each other we breathe new life into each other.  With frequent attention and affection our relationships flourish, and we as individuals grow stronger.  This is the side effect of a good relationship – we help heal each other’s wounds and support each other’s strengths.

Bottom line:  Stay in close touch with those who matter to you – communicate openly on a regular basis.  Not because it’s convenient, but because these people are worth the extra effort.

2.  Trust

The entire fabric of our society – people working, living and breathing together – relies on the positive beliefs we have about each other – a subtle, inherent trust.  This trust is the glue that holds every peaceful civilization together.  Which is why trust is the greatest compliment you can give a person, even greater than love.

The only way to build this trust, or find out if someone is trustworthy, is to trust them.  When you do, without a doubt, you’ll automatically get one of two results:  A friend for life or a lesson for life.  Either way the outcome is positive – you determine which relationships are worth your long-term attention.  Read The SPEED of Trust.

3.  Honesty

When your intentions are good and your cause is just, honesty will always help you.  When your heart is open to love and truth, your lips will not utter lies that haunt you.  When people are honest with each other up front, the truth may hurt sooner, but the suffering always dies faster, and out of this suffering comes growth.

Be honest about what’s right, as well as what needs to be changed.  Be honest about what you want in a relationship and how you want to be treated.  Be honest with every aspect of your relationships, always.

The bottom line is that relationships don’t hurt.  Lying, cheating and twisting reality until it screws with someone’s emotions is what hurts.  Never mess with someone’s feelings just because you’re unsure of your own.  If you are unsure in any way, be sure to say so.  Always be open and honest.

4.  Loyalty

Stand by those you care about in their darkest moments, not because you want to stand in the dark, but because you don’t want them to either.  Brave the shadows alongside them until they’re able to find the light.  On the flipside, stand by these same people on their sunniest days, not because you want to scorch your skin, but because you’re not afraid to let them shine bright.

In other words, be loyal.  You can’t promise to be there for someone for the rest of their life, but you can sincerely be there for them for the rest of yours.  When it comes to relationships, remaining faithful is never an option, but a priority.  Loyalty means the world.

5.  Teamwork

The most important trip you will ever take in life is meeting others half way.  You will achieve far more by working with people, rather than working alone or against them.

That’s what healthy relationships are all about – teamwork.  The strength of every relationship depends on the strength of its members, and the strength of each member depends on the quality of their relationships.

Anyone who helps you to make your half-hearted attempts more whole-hearted through passion, love and teamwork, is a precious friend and teacher.  They are part of your dream team.  These people are out there.  Connect with them and conquer the world together.  Read Tribes.

6.  Acceptance

There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship.  Even if it seems perfect now, it won’t always be.  Imperfection, however, is real and beautiful.  It’s how two people accept and deal with the imperfections of a relationship that make it ideal.

The quality of the happiness between two people grows in direct proportion to their acceptance, and in inverse proportion to their intolerance and expectations.  They must appreciate their similarities and respect their differences.

7.  Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the greatest virtues to which you should always seek.  Imagine if everyone you knew was willing both to apologize and to accept an apology.  Is there any problem that you all would not be able to solve?

The willingness to admit that we are all human, and to forgive sincerely, is a sign of your emotional strength and maturity.  Ultimately, this forgiveness is for you.  It sets you free from the shackles of the past so you can take the future in stride, regardless of whether you choose to bring certain people along for the ride.

Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did is OK.”  It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did ruin my happiness forever.”

Forgiveness is YOUR remedy.

8.  Empathy

Sometimes we feel as though the world is crashing down around us, as if the pain we are experiencing is unique only to us in this moment.  This, of course, is far from the truth.  In fact, the very demons that torment each of us torment others all over the world.  It is our challenges and pain that connect us at the deepest level.  We are all in this together and we should treat each other as such.

If you think about the people who have had the greatest positive effect on your life – the ones who truly made a difference – you will likely realize that they aren’t the ones that tried to give you all the answers or solve all your problems.  They’re the ones who sat silently with you when you needed a moment to think, who lent you a shoulder when you needed to cry, and who tolerated not having all the answers, but stood beside you anyway.  Be this person for the people you care about.

9.  Self Love

Relationships don’t create joy, they reflect it.  Joy comes from within.  Relationships are simply mirrors of the combined joy that two people have as individuals.  What you see in the mirror is what you see in your relationships.  Your disappointment in others perfectly reflects your disappointment in yourself.  Your acceptance of others perfectly reflects your acceptance of yourself.  Thus, the first step to having healthy relationship with anyone else is to have a healthy relationship with yourself.

You are powerful and beautiful when you love yourself.  So get up, look in the mirror and say, “I love you, and I mean it!”

Also, respect yourself enough to never feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life.  It doesn’t matter whether these people are relatives, romantic interests, coworkers, old friends, or new acquaintances – you don’t have to make room in your life for people who make you feel like you’re less than you are.  Read 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.

Your turn…

What kind of person do you love to be around?  What specific qualities do you look for in a friend or lover? Please leave a comment below and let us know.

Photo by: Garry Wilmore

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49 Comments

  • Thanks for another great read. I like the way you ended your last point. It’s so important to recognize that sometimes we grow out of relationships. It can be difficult to recognize, but there are times when we are just no longer able or willing to support another person’s choices. I think it’s important to recognize when it happens and exit gently and respectfully.

    And to answer your question: I look for honesty and loyalty in all of my relationships.

  • Such a great post! These are excellent points. I always go back to #9, and find myself repeating this to a lot of my friends and family. It really does start with loving yourself, even though we are all works in progress. It is possible to love AND try to improve ourselves at the same time, and when we do other people are drawn to us naturally.

    As always, thank you.

  • Spot on! Your advice reads so well in my mind. Never a bunch of rambling. I could read your insights on and off throughout any day. They consistently promote positivity and good intentions.

    A perfect list of relationship advice in this post. Thanks.

    Oh, and I look for friends and lovers who respect themselves and others. To me, that’s the key.

  • I always come across these posts when I need them the most. Agree with all points especially empathy. I look for compassion and a willingness to understand others. Working on the self love part as I can see the value but easier said than done for me. Work in progress!

  • Thanks for this beautiful post… In friends I look for people whose words and actions correlate and are reasonably consistent. People that acknowledge when they do things that are not so nice and apologize, instead of ignoring the situation.

  • Rubylyzle A. Lahaman (RuRu)
    April 15th, 2013 at 7:56 am

    I love the points shared in #’s 3, 4 & 9. Honesty, Loyalty and Self Love are the best qualities an individual can have, live and share. The bounty of our existence depends mostly on how we make ourselves available and the nature of our intentions.
    Great post!

  • I love to be around calm, confident, interested & interesting people. And in a friend or lover I look for genuine openness, feeling of trust and trustworthiness, passion and drive.
    Thanks for another wonderfully helpful article! Blessings.

  • Glad you mentioned self love. Loving yourself is a very important part of relationships because you can’t depend on another person to really take out all the dissatisfaction out of you. That’s just not fair for them because it is an impossible responsibility.

  • I think number 2-9 all hinge on number 1. If your mate isn’t paying attention to you, or worse, neglects you and takes you for granted, the relationship is lost.

  • Thank you for a wonderful post. The times I have the most difficulty is when I withdraw and/or forget that the relationship is really a mirror of my hopes, my fears, my love.

    All I look for in a relationship is acceptance of who I am and what I am and the knowing that I hopefully reciprocate the same.

  • Totally agree! And it’s great to be reminded of #9 - Self Love that is not vain and selfish but healthy and affirming.

    I love to be with people who are appreciative, non-judgmental and sincere — and I believe I am. Oh yes, I love me, and I mean it!

    Blessings to everyone — you are all amazing, and I mean it! :)

  • Have you ever noticed that the behaviors that will drive you the most crazy in others are the ones you exhibit, too? I “got” this some time ago, and agree that self love is the answer — when I remember to cut myself more slack, I tend to play much nicer with others, too!

  • Thank you so much : )

  • Hi,
    I love these! There is just one thing I’d like to add to #9 and that is that no one can make you feel anything. What you feel and accept is a choice.
    Have an awesome day!

  • I like being around friends who are problem solvers. I am new to attracting that, but I’m focused on it because I’m getting drained by people who are charming in the beginning and then require lots of attention as time goes on without reciprocating the same or similar. It’s time to have an honest conversation if she cares to or move on!

  • I love a woman who’s caring ,loyal , honest because honesty they say is the best policy… Someone real who is not so narrow minded that she cannot overlook a few faults and imperfections. Someone with a real honest personality, because everything radiates from within. Someone who is willing to grow together, learn together, strive together and share together.

  • I struggle with Self-Love not equalling Narcissism. Even self-acceptance is hollow to me. I do not think I can overcome the self-inflicted damage I have done to myself there.

    As for what I look for in a friend, its becoming more stringent. A lot of my medical issues are not fit for public consumption (bipolar and no testosterone) and when I have been open and honest upfront, I have been burned to a crisp.

    So my walls are high and my defenses strong, which means any new potential friend has to deal with a slow, careful approach. Only in the last 2 months have I even been candid with my best friends about all this medical stuff, newcomers are not equipped to handle this level of complexity within me.

    As for forgiveness, we need to add forgetfulness. Forget the mistakes (ours and others), forget the pain (pain does NOT equal learning, otherwise torture would be the greatest learning tool ever invented), and forget our regrets (what was done, and NOT done, or undone).

  • Amen to all of these!

    I like to be around upbeat, positive people who realize they are a work in progress and that no one is perfect. People who don’t get upset if there is traffic or a line at the grocery store. People who have an attitude of gratitude and who take responsibility for their lives.

    The specific qualities I look for in people and a lover are: great sense of humor, emotionally available, fun, kind, generous, supportive, open minded, risk taker, seeker of knowledge, kind to animals, people, and nature; smart, appreciation for art and music, compassionate, empathetic, forgiving, and integrity for starters.

  • Marc, as always, brilliant.

    I once saw a sign that read “Humanity is a gift, not an excuse”. I think people in relationships need to live with this belief/quality.

  • Loved this article!

  • Whenever I read something on here I feel empowered to accept me in a more gentle way. After reading the comments I also feel less alone.
    Qualities I value in others revolve around the idea that I feel safe and relaxed and they feel safe and relaxed. Which I hope allows the relationship to be organic and fun. It is important to me that if you are in the presence of the right people nothing matters more than the wonderful company you are in.

  • Lovely blog post! I love being in relationship, whether friendship or romantic, with someone who sees beauty and finds joy in simple little daily things: flowers, children, good food, etc. Someone who loves life!

  • All these points in total add up to unconditional love. So few people are capable of it…

  • If I didn’t know better, I’d think you and Angel were old folks. Thanks for this most insightful post. As for my number one quality in the people I let and keep in my life: Kindness! And after that, a sense of humor.

  • I just had a recent arguent with my partner. It is tiring to had fight over not having enough of his time, attention specially when it is a long distance relationship.

    If you allow your mind to wonder a bit longer it can drive you mad. I was feeling utterly betrayed at times when he didn’t get to keep in touch with me regularly. It was difficult to keep the momentum steady. But at the end of the day, I always seek for guidance and pray. To me the peace that I have to seek is the one that I have within myself then only I try to justify his actions only when I feel there’s a need to it. The bottomline is, it’s always about forgiving yourself(in my case, i always tend to believed I am the victim hence that feeling is a bit too much. I felt cheated and neglected over many times.) And when we’re able to make peace with ourselves only than we can forgive others.

    Your blog definitely are helping me to see things through especially when I am at my lowest.

    Thanks Angel and Marc.

  • Honestly speaking, this article is an eye opener for me! My relationship with my girl was going through a rough patch, but after reading this I think I can change it and take the relationship in a positive direction. Thank you so much for this wonderful article.

  • Sorry is the most misused word. There many differences that can be solved. There bad human beings who say sorry only for their own interest, which the only thing that they understand. I think that we must be strong enough to go away from these bad people. I regret for the fact that I gave so many chances to people who don`t deserve it. I honestly regret from the bottom of my heart and I feel released from them now and I don’t want to spend other time for them and their bad characters. I feel released. It is important that we all have the courage to let go and move on.

  • @Marilyn: That’s a good point. I honestly didn’t really think about it like that when I wrote this article, but perhaps it was part of my subconscious thinking.

    @Kate: I totally agree. Having friends and acquaintances that are proactive problem solvers not only puts less stress on you, but it motivates you to act the same way.

    @David Rapp: It’s sounds like you’re on the right track to me. Being honest about who you are is the only way a relationship can endure. People will either accept the truth about you, or walk away. The outcome in either situation is ideal in the long-run. Those who walk away open space for those who want to stay.

    Also, David, I like your twist on forgiving and forgetting. Forgive the person, forget the pain.

    @Amandah: I’m a huge fan of positive people too. =)

    @Missymissb: Agreed. You are indeed the sum of the people you spend the most time with.

    @Beverly: Ha! We’re old souls. =)

    @Aaron: Thanks for sharing your story with us. I’m glad we have been able to inspire you.

    @Bia: Freeing yourself from toxic people is a must. Nuff said.

    @All: Thank you, as always, for sharing your thoughts with us. Many of you seemed to relate to the importance of self-love. This is something Angel and I strongly believe in. Honestly, every relationship you build is constructed on the foundation of the relationship you have with yourself. You must love who you are or no one else will either. And when you are truly comfortable in your skin, not everyone will appreciate you, but you won’t care about it one bit.

  • Marc,

    The points on empathy, acceptance, trust, and honesty speak out to me the most.

    Too often, people take others for granted and forget to do the various things in your list. Slowly but surely, relationships die as a result.

    Personally, I also find “Sharing” to be a key ingredient in all relationships. And I don’t mean just sharing material things (although that certainly helps). I mean sharing thoughts, emotions, and personal stories, whether they are happy or sad.

    The best way to bond with others is to open up and share your life with them. I find that all of my closest friends have this attitude (in addition to the qualities you’ve mentioned).

    Not surprisingly, I love spending time with them!

  • I have say that #9 is the most valuable. I didn’t find my husband till I learned to love and accept myself. There is no truer statement than you can’t love someone else till you first love yourself.

  • I love to be around people who are comfortable being who they are regardless of how different they are from others in the crowd; people who are effective communicators, who are positive and encouraging. In relationships, I look for integrity, loyalty, honesty, and consistency.

  • I love this. It seems each entry I read is speaking directly to me. I have to say that I have been struggling with the self-love aspect. You are so right in how we treat others is a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves.
    The most important qualities in any relationship are trust and honesty. These are the foundation that all successful relationships are based upon in my opinion.
    Have a wonderful day!

  • This hit home in many ways for me. Being married for over a decade, we have gone through our tests. And reading each one of these steps made me realize we have been doing almost all of them consistently, when our marriage was at its all time high. But during the bad times, there was 2 or 3 of them that was missing. Out of all of them, the self-love step is the most powerful. For us, if we didn’t love ourselves, we wouldn’t have the base needed to keep building our relationship.

  • I love the example you used for loyalty - the dark and the light moments and how important it is to be there for each other in the shadows and in the sun.

    I think loyalty is foundational for a great relationship.

  • I find myself having the hardest time with #5. Currently Im an entrepreneur and she’s a corporate gal, and it seems like we always butt heads on what side is up instead of working together. It especially doesn’t help that we are both so opinionated. Any advice on this conflict?

  • Excellent article Marc. My special friend says that we should have ‘lower expectations’ to have a sucessful relationship.

  • Thank you for another great post. I agree with all your points especially the point of self love. I like people who are truthful, respectful, faithful, loyal, caring and loving to be around me. I pray God will grant us all our heart desires in relationships in hte long-term. Thank you once more for the wonderful post. Stay blessed.

  • Oh wow ! What a relief to read this , I have distanced myself from my siblings who are arrogant , judgmental , intolerant , selfish and downright bullies. I’m tired of being used and valued only when my wallet is fat and open!
    Life is truly great and so peaceful now, why I put up with it for so long is beyond me. One is fed this constant diet that you never break family ties but cutting them completely out of my life has healed me in more ways than one.

  • Thanks for this thought provoking article.

    In answer to your question, I would have to say that loyalty, honesty and acceptance are what I most value in my relationships. Acceptance is often overlooked, but SO important.

  • In lovers and friends I want affection, honesty, kindness and for them to have drive to pursue and live out their dreams. It makes sense to be around people that take you higher. Thank you for sharing, I feel hopeful.

  • ‘Neglect based on lack of attention damages relationships far more often than malicious abuse. There’s nothing more vital to the bond you share with others than simply being there for them.

    When we pay attention to each other we breathe new life into each other. With frequent attention and affection our relationships flourish, and we as individuals grow stronger. This is the side effect of a good relationship – we help heal each other’s wounds and support each other’s strengths…’

    This is so true… I ended a marriage of 18 years last year because of this. The first sentence sums it all up perfectly. Thank you Marc and Angel.

  • I think honesty is the key. Honesty breeds trust. And trust breeds a desire to build on attention, loyalty, teamwork, acceptance, forgiveness, and empathy.

  • These are great! I agree with almost everyone’s posts. Thank you all, thank you Marc and Angel for the wonderful inspirations. I wish I had a circle or friends in my life who embody many of these qualities.

    I love to be around smart, positive, motivational and ambitous people.

    Qualities I look for in a friend or lover: Humor, humor, humor but also honesty, trust, caring, loyalty, acceptance, love, and attention (from lover).

  • I really struggle with forgiveness. I love all the other attributes and feel I have them…. but I can’t seem to forgive. Does that mean I can’t forgive myself?

  • #9 is huge… without it I don’t believe you could accomplish 1 thru 8.

    I also believe trust is two-fold… a great relationship requires you both to be trusting as well as being able to handle the truth!! perception is reality…

    and the easiest way to determine your worth in a relationship is…. do their actions match their words?? if you have #9 it’s much easier to exit stage left…

    just one opinion.

  • Thank you for yet another insightful article! I totally agree with all of these! Right now I’m working on loving myself. It seems like it should be such a easy no brainer…but for me, it’s challenging.
    In friendship or any relationship I look for honesty and loyalty. I went through a really difficult thing last year and I got stuck on thinking about who didn’t stick with me in the darkness…feeling hurt by the lack of loyalty. After reading this, it made me think of the few people that did stay with me in the darkness; and those are the people I want to stay in my life. Now to really, truly work on forgiving the others instead of carrying that burden.
    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart! I needed to read this today!

  • I appreciate people who do what they say.

  • I read you articles everyday, and share them with my family and friends on Facebook. Thank you.

    Lately I began 2 new friendships. One male and woman female. Thinking I was being a good friend, I introduced them to each other. I ended up being dropped by them as they began their own relationship. I have been so hurt by them. I had been very good to both of them. Now, after a little time and some heartache has gone by, I can see that I was working too hard at the friendships. I know that it comes down to self-love and paying attention. Watch a persons actions, do their actions match what they are saying. And surround yourself with great people by being a great person!

  • Love this, and everything you noted is true. I would add that I treasure relationships built on good intentions — caring, mutual support. In my experience, there are a lot of “users” out there who, in the name of “friendship,” will use you for personal gain, taking advantage of your generosity. This isn’t easy to recognize at first — especially if you are a person who tends to trust and enjoy helping others. But I now make a point of limiting time with people who seem to have an agenda or want something from me. I seek out people who genuinely care and want a reciprocal relationship.

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