[Illustration © Nick Watts 2008 created for Sue Roffey and used with permission]

Relationships, more than anything else, are at the crux of our happiness or misery. We acknowledge that there is a vast literature on this subject and that we can only touch here on some salient points. We introduce the Harvard longitudinal research on how relationships matter for wellbeing, but emphasise that it is not only close relationships, but also those in family, community, organisations and at the socio-political level that make the difference. There is bi-directional influence between all these systems, including across time – meaning that things can change. We explore the importance of emotional literacy for establishing and maintaining healthy relationships and dealing well with conflict. The section on the value of having a positive sense of self is followed by a brief exposition of the six ASPIRE principles of Agency, Safety, Positivity, Inclusion, Respect and Equity that together underpin all healthy relationships. These are aligned with the positive psychology principles and core competencies. The chapter ends with the Golden Rule – treat others as you would wish to be treated.

Sue Roffey (2017) The Why What and How of a Healthy Relationship. Guest lecture at the University of Groningen in September 2017

The Gottman Institute YouTube channel.

The Violence Paradox (documentary re Steven Pinker etc)

Wayne Dyer (2004). Staying on the Path. Hay House Inc.

Why are positive relationships so important for wellbeing?

A positive sense of self

Positioning others

Learning about relationships

ASPIRE to positive relationships


Hope and aspiration