[I wrote this essay in July of 2011.]
For several years I have been studying people in deep, long-term friendships and couples in happy, long-term, committed relationships, in order to determine what makes the relationship function. What keeps them together? What keeps them “happy” in their relationship? The general answer I have found is simple, and is neither a good nor a bad thing: it is common values. The reason I say it is not necessarily good is that I have seen many happy, functioning couples or friends who share values I find disturbed or offensive, such as fundamentalist religiosity, mutual denial of their abusiveness toward their children, xenophobia, hypochondria, overlapping areas of sexual acting out, shared love of the same drug, and love of living in a bubble of comfort, to name but a few.
My reason for writing this essay, however, arose when I got down to brass tacks and asked myself about my own values, and thus, in turn, about the types of people I am most likely to gravitate toward.
What do I value most in this world? Continue reading