The Bonds We Make (and Break): Building Better Relationships

9 Sessions 7 Articles 9 Speakers 4 Podcasts
Friends, partners, children, families, coworkers — these connections profoundly shape our lives and happiness. For many of us, the upheaval of the past few years became an unexpected opportunity to take stock of our relationships. Some of those relationships deepened while others fell away. How can I have more positive, productive conversations with my kids? Do I have unfair expectations for my relationship? How do you know when it’s time to end a friendship? Aspen Ideas speakers are here to help with advice and sage wisdom.


Psychologist Marisa Franco explains the biggest misconceptions that are hurting our friendships, how relationships shape our personalities and sense of self, and why friendships don't just happen organically.

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How to Make—And Keep—Friends

  • Marisa G. Franco

We all have some friendships that cause us more conflict than fulfillment, leaving us stressed and confused rather than seen and supported. Jen Hatmaker, bestselling author and host of "For the Love" podcast, is here to hold our hands and walk us through a friendship breakup. She’s gifted us with questions to ask yourself when you think a friendship is no longer healthy, ground rules for when and where to have a conversation, and even a script to use.

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How to Break Up With a Friend

  • Jen Hatmaker
  • Jennifer Senior


Today's kids are coming of age amidst political, social, technological, and economic upheaval. And while this is shaping a precocious and outspoken generation, kids are also struggling with a mental health crisis, the pressures of social media, and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on key developmental years. Lisa Damour, a clinical psychologist and author, has practical tips for having healthier, more productive conversations with the kids in our lives.


“Wholeness is found in relationships. It’s found in community,” stresses wellness activist Kerri Kelly. At Aspen Ideas: Health, the author of American Detox said our pursuit of individual well-being can only be realized through a commitment to collective well-being and the work to create the conditions where everyone can thrive.

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What It Means to Thrive Together

  • Kerri Kelly
  • Mia Birdsong

"Service is a powerful antidote to loneliness," says Vivek Murthy, the 21st Surgeon General of the United States. "It shifts our focus from us to someone else." During this 2020 conversation with The Atlantic's Olga Khazan, Murthy challenged us to choose the path of social revival, rather than social recession, by recommitting to the relationships in our lives and recognizing the power of community.

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The Healing Power of Human Connection

  • Vivek Murthy
  • Olga Khazan


Should infidelity mean the death of a partnership? Not necessarily, according to Dan Savage and Esther Perel. For most of history, monogamy had nothing to do with love, says Perel, and everything to do with power.

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Do We Put Too Much Pressure on Monogamy?

  • Dan Savage
  • Esther Perel

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