How to Apply Stoicism to Relationships

The popularity of books like The Little Book of Stoicism show that the concept of stoicism is very popular in society right now. It’s incredibly popular, not just in personal development and leadership, it’s also common in relationships too. For many people, the typical approach of dating, relationships and marriage creates issues that can be avoided by applying the fundamentals of stoicism to dating. Stoicism is something we can do to improve an existing relationship or to inform who we choose to be with. If you’re interested in this way of dating, Stoic Matchmaker can help you find or develop stoic relationships.

According to How to Be Stoic, “members of a couple can be equal, devoted to their own pursuits, and yet able to share them with their partner, making their independent mark on the world while at the same time drawing love, support, and comfort, from their relationship.” The idea is that the key thing is choosing someone who is good for you, and shares your values and then working as a team to achieve individual and common goals. In this article, we discuss the key fundamentals of stoicism and how they apply to romantic relationships.

You Only Control Yourself, Not Your Partner

The idea of stoic relationships goes against what romantic comedies and storybooks have taught us about love. We’ve been taught that our partners control our happiness, that they are actually responsible for making us happy and completing what we lack in our lives. The problem with this approach is that can actually be quite unhealthy. It takes away from the fact that we are solely responsible for our happiness, and while our partners contribute to it, they aren’t entirely responsible for it. You and your partner are meant to be fully formed individuals who are committed to sharing their lives. When we start expecting our partners to be what drives our identity, we create codependence.

Choose Someone Based on Shared Virtues

There are many things we are taught about how to find the right partner that don’t create lasting relationships. People focus on having the same taste in music or other things that are quite shallow, instead of going deeper. Shared values are a very important determinant of the future success of a relationship. Do you have the same beliefs on the future, on careers, on religion, money, and children? These are the things that become issues when you have been together for some time. It’s important for these things to be discussed from the beginning so there are no shocks or surprises down the line. Stoic relationships are built on mutual respect and shared values, because that’s what brings out the best in people, and in turn the best out of the relationship.

Don’t Do Things for Reciprocity

In relationships, it’s natural to do things for our partners because we want something in return, but that approach can actually create more harm than good. If we apply stoicism to our relationships, the approach we should take is to treat everything we do for our partners as a gift, as in that we don’t expect something in return when we do something good for them. It’s important that we don’t start expecting things in return because that goes completely against the fact that we need to be unselfish and give freely to our partner because they are doing the same for us in return. When we show our partners that we love them, we’re doing it for them and not for us. They will also be doing things for us too, meaning both partners are happy.

Big Picture, Not Sweating the Small Stuff

Very often in our relationships, what causes the breakdowns, arguments and misunderstanding is that we get caught up in the minor issues and annoyances that are inevitable in any close relationship. We end up feeling like our partners are not doing things in our best interest or that they are against us in some way. When relationships are focused around stoicism, it’s more about the bigger picture and operating with the understanding that your significant other has your best interests at heart. Sure, they might have forgotten to do the dishes when they were supposed to, but that doesn’t mean they did it to hurt you.

Ultimately, it’s about seeing the best in your partner and loving and trusting them enough to know that they are always coming from a good place, and not trying to be bad. Also think big picture; that your partner is who you have chosen to spend your life with, and even though you will have disagreements, the bigger picture is that’s what you want.