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Virtuous Relationships - What are they?

Virtuous Relationships - What are they?

by Gina Lee

This month’s Unwind Fridays revolved around relationships and ways we can spend more quality time with each other. We’ve covered everything from dates with friends to fun recipes and outfits to wear on dates with our significant others, but let’s be real, the value behind these dates doesn’t come from the activities, the food, or the fit—it comes from the people and the relationships we cultivate with them.

Can I go philosophical for a sec? Cool.

Aristotle (I know, I know, bear with me) says there are three types of friendships/relationships:

  1. Utilitarian

This relationship is based on how useful the other person is to you and vice versa. In the movie Frozen, Hans and Anna have a utilitarian relationship. Hans courts Anna to become king, which he otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to because he is the 13th in line to his family’s kingdom.

  1. Pleasant

Based on the pleasure one gets out of the relationship, it is centered around having the same hobbies or interests or simply just having fun together. In Toy Story 3, Andy gets rid of all his toys when he goes off to college because they no longer serve the purpose of pleasure for him (having fun, in this case).

  1. Virtuous

This is based on the pursuit of a common goal, the good/moral life found in virtue. In Finding Nemo, Dory and Marlin become friends in order to find Nemo and continue to stay friends after Nemo is found.

Aristotle believed that virtuous relationships were the highest form of relationships because its goal is to pursue something outside of ourselves—a greater good. This greater good often doesn't change, therefore, a relationship rooted in virtue is unconditional, more stable, and less likely to change over time. (You can read his text from Nicomachean Ethics here.)


So, how can we apply this knowledge to cultivate virtuous relationships?


Well, every relationship has to start somewhere. It can start with a utilitarian mindset or pleasantries and eventually develop into a virtuous relationship as long as we take strides to get to know the other person in an authentic way. My philosophy is this: if you want to form virtuous relationships, approach everyone in a genuine manner and don’t be afraid of vulnerability. Sure, initiating vulnerability is scary, and ultimately, the choice to reciprocate authenticity is up to the other person, but we’ll never know the value of a good relationship until we put ourselves out there and try. When we recognize that everyone’s innate desire (including our own) is to belong, vulnerability simply becomes a gateway to human connection, nothing more. Besides, out of ten authentic encounters, at least one is bound to be reciprocated. 

How do we maintain these virtuous relationships?

Check in on one another.

Spend quality time with each other.

Center conversations not on people, but on ideas, on life goals, and on our personal journeys.

Take time to actively listen.

Empathize in the struggles.

Celebrate the small victories.

Recognize everyone’s innate desire to belong, even your own.

This idea of forming and maintaining virtuous relationships bleeds into how we approach sustainability, as well. Like we’ve mentioned time and time again on this blog, sustainability is more than an environmental issue—it’s a very human approach to life. In fashion, a sustainable practice is making sure we consume thoughtfully, taking into account not only the environment, but also the socioeconomic and human impact of our purchases. 

How are the working conditions of the brand’s manufacturers?

Do they get paid a living, fair wage?

Are societal laws structured in a way manufacturing companies and vendors are able to survive in the current market? If not, how can we reframe the picture?

How am I supporting local small businesses who practice sustainability?

How can I adopt sustainable practices for my wardrobe? 

At the end of the day, our life’s value is measured by the quality at which we spent it, so why shouldn’t we allow that same quality of life bleed into those who help make the pieces in our closet?

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