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5 Building Blocks to Relationships


Relationships are tricky, particularly figuring out what exactly is wrong when you aren’t experiencing as much fulfillment as you once were. Take a look at my handy list which identifies where the breakdown might be:
5 building blocks of balanced (romantic) relationships
Safety- this is the most basic of the 5 in the sense that if you don’t have it, you can forget about having any of the others. Much like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for example- it is difficult to think about your intellectual development, a higher need, if your basic needs of food and shelter are unmet. Safety means free from threat of physical or emotional harm, and yes slapping, pushing, throwing things all count as threats of physical harm. Emotional harm is name calling, belittling, or generally talking down to your partner.
Attraction- Generally it is more critical to have this at the beginning of the relationship-that to say, you should evaluate whether the natural capacity for attraction is there. If you had this at one time don’t worry, you can get it back. If it went away over time, it is likely a function of one of the other 4 being out of balance. If you never had it, that’s a different question but in some cases it can grow. I will devote a separate blog to this as what we find ourselves attracted to often says more about us than the object of our affection. More to come.
Love- so this category includes things like friendship, shared activities, deep caring and concern for the other person’s wellbeing. It is all about valuing the person as much as you value yourself, even more so ideally. Are you and your partner willing to make small adjustments for each other, to express that you care, and be inconvenienced when it will benefit the other? If not, it is likely they are just not that into you.
Commitment- and no this doesn’t mean you have to be exclusive with who you are dating and tie yourself down to a long term plan. It only means your commitment level should mirror your intimacy, emotional and otherwise. It is equally inappropriate to commit yourself to marry someone you just met as it is to refuse exclusivity with a long term partner. As your relationship deepens, so should the commitment by degree. If that isn’t happening, your intimacy is stalled.
Mutual Respect- can each person in the relationship maintain their individuality, sense of wants/needs/desires/interests, and still be able to connect with the other person? Do they view the other as good at something and value them for it? By the way- everyone is good at something, it may just not be what you would like them to be good at. If there is a lot of frustration or irritation between you, get in touch with what is admirable in that other person and go after it. Communicate, learn about it, and develop your appreciation for what they uniquely bring to the world.
I most often see clients who are having difficulty with the commitment and mutual respect areas, which is because they are the most challenging to develop. Anything you would add to my list? I’d love to hear your feedback.

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