I often hear of people complain about their relationships, and after a while, it seemed to me that all relationships were innately destined for failure. This perspective lived with me throughout college, and led me into relationships that were superficial. I failed to see the magic that wholesome relationships had to offer, and often wound up feeling more empty inside than I did when I was single. No one had taught me how to make a relationship last.
That was until I met a girl who was far wiser than I was, and had a much clearer picture of how to make a relationship last. Our relationship started out at a high point and never came back down, although we do argue once in a while, the fruits of our relationship have been so out of the ordinary that people often think we are strange for liking each other so much.
We are constantly asked how we stay so satisfied, so to better answer this question, we developed a “Relationship Pyramid” which was inspired by the humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Our Relationship Pyramid illustrates the core components of what makes a relationship powerful and how each layer can be built upon to reach new heights.
This relationship pyramid became an entity that is not only based on our own experiences, but the needs and desires of us all. We all want to be satisfied, and we all want to satisfy our partners. So without further ado…
How you make your relationship last
Welcome to the relationship pyramid! Use this to diagnose issues and ensure that all the gears in your relationship are functioning at their utmost potential.
Description: Each layer of this relationship pyramid is dependent upon, and cannot fully exist without its foundational layer. For example, you cannot have successfully built “Acceptance, Transparency,” without first building the two layers under it (“Respect, Trust, Confidence, Security in Relationship” and “Companionship, Physical Attraction”).
- Companionship, Physical Attraction
- Respect, Trust, Confidence, Security in Relationship
- Acceptance, Transparency
- Romantic Passion, Travel, Experiences
- Spiritual Bond
- Synergetic Partnership
This relationship pyramid makes it very simple to pinpoint and focus on problems that you are experiencing, so you can quickly work to fix them. Feel free to print it out and hang it on a wall for the next time you or your partner feel unsatisfied. It works extremely well, and will at the very least help you communicate better with your partner. Just read each layer’s description below to become an expert!
1. Companionship, Physical Attraction
Anyone can get into a relationship based on physical attraction. If this level were to exist alone, it would yield relationships that look like one night stands. This level is based on our lower biological needs for closeness and physical intimacy.
Although this level alone won’t provide you with a satisfying relationship, it is of the utmost importance in building one. There is a very good reason that it is the foundation.
If you are not first friends with your partner, you have no business being with them. And same for physical attraction, if you are not physically attracted to your partner, the next layers of this pyramid will be very difficult to build.
2. Respect, Trust, Confidence, Security in Relationship
Taking a relationship up from the physical attraction level requires trust. If you don’t trust your partner, it will be impossible to feel content with them. How many times have you heard stories of partners stressing out because their significant other went out without telling them where they were going?
If you want to build trust, you have to be honest with your partner and vise versa. You should not have to worry about what your partner is doing when you’re not looking.
Once you master this level, you and your partner will feel secure, and can put aside all those stressors that come along with distrust. And remember, this trust runs both ways, each partner must contribute or the pyramid will not stay intact.
3. Acceptance, Transparency
This is the SCARIEST level of the pyramid, and few couples make it past this point due to fear. We all know how terrifying vulnerability can be, but embracing it is the first step into true love! This section is where vulnerability takes the spotlight.
“The strongest love is the love that can demonstrate its fragility.” – Paulo Coelho
Do you feel calm when your partner looks through your cell phone, or your laptop? Would you give them the password to your bank account or social media pages? If not, you may have some work to do.
This level is where you will see all of your partners flaws, the stupidity of their past mistakes and even their deepest darkest fantasies. You will also share all of yours, with them! If you were successful in building the previous two layers of the pyramid, you both should be able to open up to one another with little fear, though this stage sometimes takes a very long time to build.
Transparency is a day to day practice, and just like the previous two layers of the pyramid, it must be continuously worked on in order to build upon it.
In completing this phase, you will quickly grow to realize the attributes of yourself that your partner does not feel comfortable with. It is not wrong to adjust your behavior to please your partner, just as long as you are not keeping any secrets. If your partner wants you to change, or fails to accept your deepest layers, than they may not be the one for you!
Ideally, you want to forgive you partner for their past mistakes and accept their flaws. In doing this, your partnership will enter the first phase of concretion.
4. Romantic Passion, Travel, Experiences
This level found its home towards the top of the pyramid for good reason. If you are to get the most out of life with your partner, you must have conquered the transparency level of development.
You may know what it’s like to go on vacation when everyone is in a bad mood. Even Disneyland can be miserable if your friends aren’t happy. Distrust, disagreements and negativity can sap the magic out of any experience. But with a transparent relationship, you will be able to effortlessly communicate issues and get the most out of any experience, even the bad ones!
This level is also where true physical intimacy can be seen. People can have sex even at the first layer of the pyramid, but that form of physical intimacy is primitive and superficial. It is mainly focused on physical sensations, and not true intimacy. In the end, this type of sex leads to confusion and very avoidable stress.
The physical intimacy in this layer is based on love, it is not only the physical sensation of sex, but the ultimate intertwining of soul fabric. If you’ve never made it to this level of intimacy, you are missing out on a mind blowing universe of sexual bliss.
Once you make it to this level of the pyramid, it is a great time to consider marriage. Having completed all of the layers before this one will mean that you have fully accepted your partner and all their flaws, and trust them with all your being. The symbol of marriage is that of a spiritual bond, and with full transparency accomplished, you will be in it for the long haul.
So be careful with this pyramid, it’s dangerous (hehe)!
5. Spiritual Bond
The best way to get to know someone is to experience all life has to offer with them. If you are fortunate enough to experience ups and downs as a couple, and have conquered the previous foundational layers of this pyramid, you will enter the level of spiritual bonding.
These ups and downs of life will begin knitting your souls together, which will allow you to further learn the depths of your partner. Even the death of a close family member, or the joy of having a baby will bring you closer together. You will be ready to face life as a unit, and will be far better equipped to handle the stressors of life than you were when you were single. This is a beautiful stage, and should be celebrated.
When a spiritual bond is formed, you may begin to experience strange phenomena such as telepathy or completing each other’s thoughts. You may even begin looking more alike!
6. Synergetic Partnership
Very few people reach the top level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Perhaps less than 10% of the world’s population will reach that state of self actualization. And my estimate is that the same is the case with the Relationship Triangle. Very few couples will reach this level, and if they do, they will have the ability to recognize their partner’s soul for lifetimes to come.
This is the sacred bond between two people. The ultimate closeness and intimacy. These partners have become one flesh, and nothing can separate them, perhaps not even death.
If you’re not married at this point, you should be. Marriage symbolizes the journey you have been on together, and the beauty of your newfound closeness. Divorce is not in your future and even a lifetime of arguments will be quickly resolve. This is all because you have transcended the earthly plane into the spiritual realm of divine union.
Anyone can make it to this sacred level of the Relationship Pyramid, if they take the time to build it from the foundation up. It takes patience, openness and bravery. It is not easy, but it can be done and the fruits of your efforts will be well worth the pain.
If you would like to learn about the psychological components of what makes for an amazing relationship, you can continue your studies with these great books. Both of them are written by John Gottman, a doctor with vast knowledge regarding this topic.
Thanks for reading, I hope this tool will help you achieve maximum satisfaction in your relationship. If you have any questions or would like to share your experiences with the Relationship Pyramid, please leave a comment below!
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