How do you work out if the relationship you’re in now is the relationship you want to be in for the rest of your life?
It’s a difficult question to answer and one that undoubtedly has huge ramifications for your life.
But instead of leaving things to chance, a psychologist on Psychology Today has developed a question that gives you the best chance of getting it right.
Psychologist Suzie Pileggi says that you need to take a broad look at your romantic relationship and ask yourself the following question:
Is your partnership primarily based on the usefulness you get out of it, the pleasure you derive from it, or the goodness you see in it?
It’s important to forget about fantasy and ask yourself this question honestly. Also, why you got into a relationship might be the reason you’re staying in the relationship. Our relationships naturally change and evolve.
Here’s what your answer means
This question comes from the wise ancient philosopher, Aristotle. He said that we tend to love three different kinds of things: those that are useful, those that pleasurable and those that are good.
And he says that each type of friendship corresponds to each category.
The first type of friendship is between people who find each other useful. It might be an opportunity to make money, or an opportunity to rise in the rankings at work.
The second level of friendship is between two people who find it pleasurable to be together. For example, two young passionate 20 year olds who have “fun” when they meet up.
Aristotle says there’s nothing wrong with these types of friendships, but they are dependent on what each person gets of the friendship – profit or pleasure – so when the money or pleasure dries up, so too does the friendship.
The third level of friendship is based on goodness. It’s based on being attracted to the character of the other person. In this relationship, you’re more focused on what you put into the relationship, rather than what you get out of it.
Even though this friendship is not motivated by a question to gain something from your partner, they often can be useful and pleasurable as well.
As Aristotle said, there’s nothing wrong with having profit and pleasure part of the relationship, but if that is all that there is, then these self-oriented motivations might not make for the most fulfilling long-term relationship.
Aristotle says that the third friendship is more stable because it’s based on virtue and allows the relationship to grow.
So, if you’re wondering whether the relationship you’re in now is the one of the future, ask yourself whether profit, pleasure or goodness is driving it.