The most important factor in a relationship

Communication, no matter how open, transparent and disciplined, will always break down at some point. Conflicts are ultimately unavoidable, and feelings will always be hurt.

And the only thing that can save you and your partner, that can cushion you both to the hard landing of human fallibility, is an unerring respect for one another, the fact that you hold each other in high esteem, believe in one another — often more than you each believe in yourselves — and trust that your partner is doing his/her best with what they’ve got.

Without that bedrock of respect underneath you, you will doubt each other’s intentions. You will judge their choices and encroach on their independence. You will feel the need to hide things from one another for fear of criticism. And this is when the cracks in the edifice begin to appear.

You must also respect yourself. Because without that self-respect, you will not feel worthy of the respect afforded by your partner. You will be unwilling to accept it and you will find ways to undermine it. You will constantly feel the need to compensate and prove yourself worthy of love, which will just backfire.

Respect for your partner and respect for yourself are intertwined. As a reader named Olov put it, “Respect yourself and your wife. Never talk badly to or about her. If you don’t respect your wife, you don’t respect yourself. You chose her – live up to that choice.”

Mark Manson writing in Business Insider 

The real way to build a social network

Picture the consummate networker: a high-energy fast talker who collects as many business cards as he can and attends mixers sporting slicked-back hair. Or the overambitious college kid who frantically e-mails alumni, schmoozes with the board of trustees, and adds anyone he's ever met as an online friend. Such people are drunk on networking Kool-Aid—and are looking at a potentially nasty hangover.

Luckily, building your network doesn't have to be like that. Old-school networkers are transactional. They pursue relationships thinking solely about what other people can do for them. Relationship builders, on the other hand, try to help others first. They don't keep score. And they prioritize high-quality relationships over a large number of connections.

Reid Hoffman, The Start-Up of You

why Facebook survived

While Facebook was just getting on its feet in 2004, a similar social network called Campus Network (or CU Community) was ahead and more advanced. Slate explains why only one survived.

Why did Facebook succeed where Campus Network failed? The simplest explanation is, well, its simplicity. Yes, Campus Network had advanced features that Facebook was missing. While Campus Network blitzed first-time users right away, Facebook updated its features incrementally. Facebook respected the Web's learning curve.

Campus Network did too much too soon. Neither site, of course, can claim to be the first social network—Friendster and MySpace already had large followings in 2003. But both Facebook and Campus Network had the crucial insight that overlaying a virtual community on top of an existing community—a college campus—would cement users' trust and loyalty. Campus Network figured it out first. Facebook just executed it better.

While people want to make their own choices, research shows too many options creates problems. We become overwhelmed. There is no substitute for simplicity and clarity. Whether on purpose or by accident, Facebook was built from the perspective of looking at what users would do with the site rather than building to show off what its creators could do. One approach shows respect for the audience.

Stephen Goforth

What we really believe

Every person expects to be treated as a person. The proof that he really believes there are some unconditional values is that he expects his freedom and dignity to be respected. In his actions, he may not always respect others, but in his reactions he proves that he always expects others to respect his freedom and dignity. Hence, human expectations are the key to what a man believes to be absolute.

Norman Geisler, Options in Contemporary Christian Ethics

the image

As Americans, we're obsessed with images. Who we are isn't as important as how we appear. In fact, we spend so much time and effort on appearances, we lose the ability to recognize the true identity of another person, or even ourselves. We've become more familiar with the image than we are with the real thing.

Dating relationships are especially vulnerable to this problem. A person isn't evaluated on character or individuality, but on how close he or she measures up to the other's image of the ideal mate. Real people take second chair to the ideal; they measure up to the image or they don't.

Have you ever noticed the excitement at the beginning of a romance that later faded with growing familiarity? In the early stages of any new friendship, we're usually seeing more of the image than we are of the real person. We've seen enough of the surface to see similarities between the object of our affections and the ideal we seek, but not enough to show us that our ideal and the new friend are not the same person. In essence, we're falling in love with the image, with the idea that this one person might be "it." Sooner or later the real person is going to start breaking through that image, and disillusionment will set in.

The success of a marriage comes not in finding the "right" person, but in the ability of both partners to adjust to the real person they inevitably realize they married. Some people never make this adjustment, becoming trapped in an endless search for an image that does not exist.

John Fischer, Real Christians Don’t Dance!

Savage Love

It may be objected that marriage must then be simply ‘the grave of love’. It would be more accurate to echo Croce and say that ‘marriage is the grave of savage love’ and more often the grave of sentimentality.

Savage and natural love is manifested in rape. But rape, like polygamy, is also an indication that men are not yet in a stage to apprehend the presence of an actual person in a woman. This is as much as to say that they do not know how to love. Rape and polygamy deprive a woman of her equality by reducing her to sex. Savage love empties human relations of personality.

On the other hand, a man does not control himself owing to lack of ‘passion’ (meaning ‘power of the libido’), but precisely because he loves and, in virtue of his love, will not inflict himself. He refuses to commit an act of violence which would be in the denial and destruction of the person. He thus indicates that his dearest wish is for the other’s good. His egotism goes round via the other. This, it will be granted, is a notable revolution.

And we may now pass beyond that altogether negative and privative statement of Croce’s and at last define marriage as the institution in which passion is ‘contained’, not by morals, but by love.

Denis de Rougemont, Love in the Western World

real love

When a man is faithful to one woman, he looks on other women in quite another way, a way unknown to the world of Eros; other women turn into persons instead of being reflections or means. This ‘spiritual exercise’ develops new powers of judgment, self-possession, and respect.* The opposite in this of an erotic man, a steadfast man no longer strives to see a woman as merely an attractive or desirable body... he feels, as soon as tempted, he has been desiring only an illusory or fleeting aspect of what is actually a complete life. Thus temptation recedes disconnected instead of making itself into an obsession; and fidelity is made secure by the clear-sightedness it induces.

(*‘Respect’, as I use the word here, means that we recognize in a being the fullness of a person. A person, according to Kant’s famous definition, is what cannot be used by man as an instrument or thing.)

Denis de Rougemont, Love in the Western World

bosses: don't be jerks

After decades of being bossed, and 16 years of bossing, I’ve developed a prime directive for bosses which will probably not be taught at Harvard Business School: Don’t be a jerk. Organizations need hierarchies and leadership, so yes, you get to call some shots. You can be tough and demanding. But remember that your authority over other human beings is an artificial construct. You are not better than the people working for you. Fire people if you must, but humiliate no one. Be kind. Granted, many bosses don’t operate this way, and I can understand why women in positions of power want the right to be as obnoxious and tyrannical as their male counterparts. But wouldn’t it be better still if no boss could get away with acting like a jerk?

William Falk writing in The Week Magazine

Love Begets Love

The more children know that you value them, that you consider them extraordinary people, the more willing they will be to listen to you and afford you the more willing they will be to listen to you and afford you the same esteem. And the more appropriate your teaching, based on your knowledge of them, the more eager your children will be to learn from you. And the more they learn, the more extraordinary the will become, If the reader senses the cyclical character of this process, he or she is quite correct and is appreciating the truth of the reciprocity of love. Instead of a vicious downward cycle, it is a creative upward cycle of evolution and growth. Value creates value. Love begets love.

M Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Free yourself from negative people

Spend time with nice people who are smart, driven and like-minded. Relationships should help you, not hurt you. Surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be. Choose friends who you are proud to know, people you admire, who love and respect you – people who make your day a little brighter simply by being in it. Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.

Renee Jones, read more here