Veninga, R. (1991). Your renaissance years. Boston: Little,
Brown. A good guide to retirement.
Relationships with Others
Why are relationships with others important?
Don Hamachek (1982) answers this question this way: (1) we
understand ourselves by comparing us with others. Example: we know
how attractive or how irritable we are by noting how good-looking or
crabby several others are. Especially when we are feeling afraid or
upset, there is a strong need to compare notes with others, preferably
similar others in a similar situation: "misery loves miserable company"
(Schachter, 1959). (2) We overcome loneliness, which can be
excruciating, by being with others. Also, living entirely alone is
hazardous to your health (see chapter 5).
Humans are social animals, much of our joy comes from
interactions with others. Loves and friendships are very important, no
one would deny that. We must, of course, relate to others effectively
and intimately, but we must also know how to be alone, self-reliant,
self-aware, and effective at work. The ideal human adjustment isn't
just having a wild, gleeful, fun-time with friends all the time. Good,
caring, loving relationships are important but they aren't everything.
Why are so many relationships unhappy?
There are many reasons. Sydney Jourard and Ted Landsman
(1980) say a healthy relationship has (1) open, honest
communication, (2) reasonable expectations or demands of each
other, (3) concern about the other's well being and (4) freedom for
both to be themselves. That sounds pretty easy but is it? What
interferes with healthy relationships? Hamachek (1982) says (1) we
underestimate the changes we need to make but push too hard for
other people to change, (2) not liking ourselves is usually associated
with not liking other people, (3) shyness inhibits closeness and
intimacy with others and (4) playing deceptive, self-serving "games"
will drive others away. Brown (1995) describes the decline of true
intimacy in our culture and tries to explain why Americans are
becoming more and more unable to sustain meaningful relationships.
What can be done about these barriers to good relationships? A
lot! For example, we can understand ourselves better, as we just
discussed in the first part of this chapter and in the other chapters. We
can gain insight into our socialization processes so we can build,