My mother wisely taught me that there are four parts to every person, and the healthiest people will have relationships that help fill these four parts – mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. In most primary relationships, only a few of these four primary needs are filled. Does that mean you should end the relationship? No, because that’s putting too much on another person to provide for you. Developing new friendships and relationships can help fill the four quadrants in the ways that every person needs. No one other person can provide all of this for you, and even many may not be able to provide them for you if you’re not doing your part to provide them for yourself.
I’ve noticed that the physical part of a relationship is either way overstated or understated. When relationships are all physical, and no other quadrants are filled, participants are left in an uneasy state, where their body’s needs are fulfilled, but their emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs are not. I’ve also read about the opposite effect too, where marriages and other long-term partnerships are more likely to fail when physical intimacy breaks down – or in other words, fix your physical life together to fix your relationship! I actually believe there is truth in this.
But a relationship cannot be all about the physical, or it’s not a relationship. All four of these needs have to be met in each person, although they may not all be met (and probably won’t be) in the same person. I have relationship examples in my own life, where someone’s intellectual and spiritual needs are met, but not their emotional needs, or where someone’s emotional and spiritual needs are met, but not their physical needs. Dissatisfaction arises when one or more of the four quadrants is not being met. But asking one other person to provide this for you is asking a lot. All of us have a responsibility to try to provide these four areas for ourselves before inviting another person to join in.
First of all, are you meeting your own four quadrant needs? Have you developed friendships to meet your emotional, intellectual or spiritual needs outside of your relationship? Are you willing to meet your own physical needs on your own without the participation of someone else? It’s only with your own participation in making your life better that you can truly be a part of a healthy relationship dynamic.
And, to some people, some parts may not seem as important as others, for example, physical may be over spiritual. What if you’re an atheist and believe you have no spiritual needs? I would argue that you do still have spiritual needs, even if it’s having others in your life that are athiests too. Most people I know tend to discount the spiritual in favor of one or all of the others, but truly, Mom’s right. It does take all four areas being filled to truly live a happy life.
Are you doing your part?