• Sarah Tottle

Defining the Relationship



Defining a relationship is a unique construct for each individual and couple. No two people are the same and neither are no two relationships.

A relationship definition is likely to be as unique as the couple involved in it. However, the basic relationship construct suggests that a relationship is a an enduring alliance between two individuals with the expectation that each will meet the other’s needs. In essence, it’s a partnership and each couple is a team working for the greater good of the relationship.

In healthy relationships, each individual in the couple will act as a team player, supporting and collaborating with their partner. They act as their cheerleader, advocating for both their partner’s success and the success of the relationship as a whole.

Relationships start due to a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the following:

1. There is an initial attraction when the individuals meet.

2. The couple share some commonalities and compatibilities: hobbies, work, sport etc.

3. The individuals are seeking companionship.

4.  Individuals are seeking acceptance.

5.  For support and care.

6.  For comfort, peace and security.

7.  Happiness and self-pleasure.

8.  To share experiences.

9.   Intellectual, physical, and emotional stimulation.

10. To enhance self-esteem and self-worth.

11. To experience love, affection and belonging.

12.  Procreate.

We, as individuals, seek out relationships to moderate against loneliness. We are actually psychologically wired for relationships and without them, our life satisfaction can plummet. However, it is important to seek out the right type of relationships.


Relationships can help us lead a fulfilling life. Intimacy and love are fundamental human needs and they are associated with positive health and wellbeing throughout our lifetime. Positive relationships also safeguard against stressors and help individuals manage the burdens of life’s ups and downs.     

Many people have a fear of intimacy due to past failed relationships, pains, hurts and abandonments. These fears essentially hinder the individual from embarking on a healthy relationhip as they fear they will be hurt once again.


Struggles defining a relationship can result in negative behaviour that sabotage a relationship’s success, often repeating this cycle until help is sought.


Working through past issues and showing patience towards others is key to establishing a great relationship that is both physically and emotionally intimate.


Some individuals fear developing a relationship with friends because they’re worried they will ruin a friendship should the relationship not succeed. Others worry that they cannot offer the other person as much as they feel they need. Much of these concerns and fears can be managed through open, honest discussions.   The very fact of the matter is this: relationships are built on trust and communication, and that’s at every stage of the relationship. Defining the relationship is a collaborative process centred on communication, validation and mutual respect.  


Defining the relationship is a co-construction whereby each party actively participate in its meaning. Both individuals in the relationship need to play an active role in giving the relationship its definition and this process is a fluid, flexible and a long-term conversation. Because defining a relationship doesn’t simply come down to labelling the relationship, it’s a discussion from both parties about how each individual can meet the other’s needs. It’s about continually working together to strengthen the team.  


In the early days, defining the relationship can be particularly problematic as individuals in the relationship may be expecting different things at different stages. One party may want the establish an official relationship while the other is simply enjoying getting to know that person without assigning any labels.  


Because anxieties can be high during the early stages, communication is paramount. Individuals should never fear opening up about their expectations in a healthy partnership, no matter what stage the relationship is in. Denying your voice to not rock the boat can simply bite you on the backside later in life.

FEARS AND OBSTACLES

When both parties are comfortable with each other, open communication should not be an issue. If one person is continually holding back then they’re not actually being true to themselves. Eventually, this attitude will result in resentment towards the other person and can cause a lot of heartache in the long-run.


As women (and as men), we need to be confident in finding our voice and be open about our needs. Don’t be shy about showing the real you, it’s the real you that will attract the right person. Be confident in knowing that, when your outer person is congruent with your innerself, and you honestly and effectively communicate your wants, desires, and needs, the right person will respect and appreciate that.  


We can never control how another person acts, but what we can do is focus on how to live authentically, confidently, and embrace honesty in our communication. Being assertive and clear about what you want in a relationship and what your intentions are is imperative to attracting the right partner.   

©2019 by Sarah Tottle.