Stoicism in Relationships

The philosophy of stoicism in relationships is a theory many stoics contemplate on a regular basis. At first glance, the principles of stoicism and relationships appear to contradict each other.

For example, stoicism promotes the idea of indifference whereas relationships require attention and effort. How, then, can a presumably indifferent stoic maintain their philosophy while cultivating a relationship?

Unfortunately, stoics often get a bad rap in regards to relationships. The common misconception is that stoics are inherently cold, heartless, or emotionless.

This isn’t necessarily true, but the difference is how stoic philosophy approaches emotion. We’ll get to this, but let’s start by examining the negative perception of stoicism in relationships.

Cold & Emotionless

These two words are common among people with a misunderstanding of stoic philosophy. This impression isn’t enitrely inaccurate at a surface level, but it overlooks the context of emotion in stoicism.

Consider this quote regarding emotions in stoic philosophy:

“Not to display anger or other emotions. To be free of passion and yet full of love.”

Marcus Aurelius

The first line of this quote supports the idea that stoicism in relationships is nothing more than a fantasy. How can someone maintain a healthy relationship without displaying emotion?

The second line is where the coexistence becomes clear.

Further Analysis of ‘Emotion’

When considering the word ’emotion’ in the context of relationships, it’s common to gravitate towards positive emotions exclusively. However, it’s important to acknowledge the existence and occasional tendency to lean on negative emotions in relationships.

After dissecting the word ’emotion’, the genius of this quote becomes evident.

Being free of passion is simply the elimination of strong emotional reactions. This can be applied to the context of your relationship or life in general.

Being full of love is the adoration of the people and things you care about.

The distinction here correlates to the foundation of stoicism – focusing on things we have the power to control.

Composition & Control

There is always an inherent power to control the way we think about or behave towards others. However, we have no power over the reciprocity of those thoughts or actions. This is where stoicism in relationships becomes advantageous.

The stoic philosophy plays a crucial role in composed interactions. Whether in relationships, business meetings, or day-to-day interactions, eliminating emotional response will enhance your life.

Benefits of Stoicism in Relationships

When focusing on things within your control, your interactions become more authentic and enjoyable. Instead of spending time contemplating what you can get from them, you’re able to focus on what you can do for them. When you stop worrying about what they’re thinking or why they’re behaving a certain way, you’re given more time to enjoy their presence and engage in the moment with them.

Additionally, stoicism becomes imperative in the event that a relationship begins to unravel. People tend to behave irrationally when relationships begin to fall apart, which oftentimes makes things worse. Eliminating emotional response will provide a level of internal peace in a time of external chaos.

Stoicism also provides an opportunity to analyze the relationship objectively, which has the potential to improve the foundation of the relationship. The other side to this coin is the ability to consider the condition of the relationship from an impartial state of mind. This is nearly impossible when you’re coming from a point of irrationality.

How to Establish and Maintain Stoicism in Relationships

As previously mentioned, the key to successfully incorporating stoicism is focusing on things you have the power to control. This means developing and maintaining a rational, objective state of mind.

The distinction between rational and irrational behavior pertaining to relationships is the place in which your admiration comes from. Stoic philosophy emphasizes the significance of rational behavior, which leads to more complete and genuine relationships.

Your affection for the person isn’t based on their idea of you or the attention they provide, but instead on your opinion of them. This counters the common occurrence of a person changing who they are to become who someone else wants them to be.

Now that a rational state of mind is established, you can see the relationship through a completely different lens. Not only will your internal perceptions change, but the way you interact with the other person in the relationship will shift as well. A few of these internal and external adjustments include:


  • Additional peace of mind – when you spend less time worrying about or reacting to the behavior of the other person, you gain a sense of clarity and inner peace.
  • Increased self-awareness – taking the focus away from the other person gives you time to reflect on your own character. This ensures you maintain a sense of self and improves self-awareness.
  • Maintaining independence – instead of focusing solely on the other person, stoicism invokes a greater understanding of independence. This allows you to create personal goals while also defining boundaries with the other person.


  • Open lines of communication – when you’re given time for self-reflection, you’re able to clearly define and communicate your role in and perception of the relationship.
  • Ability to handle hardship – because stoicism promotes rational thinking, you’re better able to deal with confrontation and hardship within the relationship. This will drastically improve the long term health of the relationship.
  • Deeper connections – implementing stoic philosophies creates more awareness and a greater ability to focus on the now, otherwise known as living in the moment. Your conversations become more engaging, your interactions become more authentic, and your relationships become less transactional. If you practice this, stronger relationships will inevitably follow.


In summary, stoics aren’t the emotionless people they’re presumed to be. The difference for stoics is the ability to deploy gratitude and admiration from a rational place. This leads to better self-awareness, more authentic interactions, and holistically superior relationships.

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