I’ve been on the theme of relationships and relationships for close to 20 years, much of it stemming from work with Jean Baker-Miller, who was an inspiration to me in the late 1980s when I participated in a Stone Center project. Jean’s ground-breaking work in understanding the psychology of women opened the way for many changes in the workplace as well as in the discipline of psychological counseling. As more research shows how men and women are different in many physiological ways, it becomes clearer and clearer how revolutionary her ideas were.
Fundamental to Jean’s theory is that women grow in relationship; we become transformed and empowered by through shared experiences and authentic conversation. Such transformation is not unique to women, but most often experienced by women. Growth-fostering relationships empower all people in them.
The five good characteristics of growth-fostering relationships:
- A sense of zest or well-being that comes from connecting with another person or other persons.
- The ability and motivation to take action in the relationships as well as in other situations.
- Increased knowledge of oneself and the other person(s).
- An increased sense of worth.
- A desire for more connections beyond the particular one.
This work has always been founded on face-to-face personal, intimate, relationships, which we tend to think are more in the province of the feminine side. I wonder if our social media-based networking via technology has made it easier for men to develop relationships that they might not have done otherwise?