The Basic Building Block of Relationships

By Michael Semon

August 1, 2015

basic building block, loyalty, needs, relationship triangles
Family Counseling Birmingham AL

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The basic building block in the human body is a cell. Human beings have many different types of cells … brain cells, liver cells, skin cells, heart cells. Well, The basic building block of relationships is the triangle. Relationships are made up of triangles with three different positions, “A”, “B” and “C”.

You are at “A” in your life and are always at “A” in your life. You are responsible for deciding who or what is in your “B” and “C” positions. At “A”, you and only you decide who or what is in your “B” position. “B” is the position of priority, value, and commitment. Two people in a relationship want to be at “B” in their partner’s life. Whomever you place at “B,” then everybody else and everything else goes to the “C” position. “C” is on the outside of A and B and often results in anxiety or fear of being left out. While “B” is the position of priority in another person’s life; most people interpret “C” as the position of not getting your wants and needs met.

As stated, you are always in the “A” position in your life, you initially met your partner and put him or her in your “B” position … and everybody else and everything else, you put in the “C” position. A Bond began to form that was fresh, alive, vital and vibrant as you both worked to meet your partner’s every want and need… keeping him or her in the “B” position in your life. As your relationship progresses, the bond that developed at the beginning of your relationship turns into a bind. The relationship turns from a bond where you are both at each other’s “B” position to a bind where you are at each others “C” position. How did the bond that was so fresh, vital and alive turn into a bind so suffocating that you sometimes consider leaving the relationship?

In the ebb and flow of relationships, is it possible to meet every want and need of your partner? NO, it’s not possible. So, if it’s not possible to continually keep your partner in your “B” position, how do you occasionally put your partner in your “C” position and keep the relationship together? Another way to ask this is in areas that are important to you, can you allow your partner to disagree with you putting you in his or her “C” position and:

Still believe the best about your partner?

Still believe your partner loves you?

Still be OK in the relationship?

One way to answer this question is that the way to be OK in the relationship is to openly, honestly, and respectfully disagree with your partner or allow for differences between the two of you especially in areas that are important to you. As you empty yourself of your agenda, you increasingly value the “C” position and the “B” position in your partner’s life. Both places are important in your relationship just for different reasons. Keeping your partner in your “B” position demonstrates your willingness to care for your partner by taking initiative, accommodating your partner and making him or her your priority. Occasionally living in your partner’s “C” position demonstrates your maturity, ability to trust your partner’s decisions, even when you disagree.

Listening, you allow your partner’s ideas and thoughts to be in his or her “B” position and being OK in the “C” position, you empty yourself of your agenda or even the need to agree with your partner. Agreeing to disagree is a form of listening… because you live in your partner’s “C” position and are OK at the same time.

The classic example of how relationships are built in triangles occurs when a couple has a their first baby. Mom is at “A” in her life, she has her newborn infant at “B” and her husband in her “C” position. Of course, Dad is at “A” in his life, and has his wife in his “B” position and their newborn in his “C” position. Yes, he loves his child and his wife. But he wants his wife in his “B” position. This man, husband and new dad has to navigate life in his wife’s “C” position more than he may want to, because their newborn needs his mother’s attention and there’s just not enough of her to go around.

His relational stamina, perseverance and endurance are tested when a child is introduced into their relationship. Marital satisfaction plummets when a couple has a baby because mom has difficulty placing her new baby in her “C” position without feeling guilty and dad can feel angry because he’s keeping his wife in his “B” position but he isn’t her priority. How can she put her husband at “B” and her child at “C” without feeling guilty? She can’t unless she recognizes the value of the “C” position for her children.

John and Nancy found this struggle particularly difficult when their first baby came along. John was working long hours and Nancy was always exhausted. While they were up to the task of having a baby, the sleepless nights and daily job demands stretched them so thin all they wanted to do was sleep when they had a spare minute.

As their son grew to be two-years-old, John began to recognize that Nancy had very little ability to tell him NO or place him in her “C” position. Of course, this kept John in Nancy’s “C” position while their son was at “B” in her life. John recognized he needed to empty himself of his tendency to escape into his work which kept Nancy in his “C” position. Doing a better job of keeping her in his “B” position opened the door for Nancy to re-establish her connection with John rather than getting her emotional needs met through caring for their son.

You are always at “A” in your life and to have a successful relationship, you learn that the “B” position and the “C” position have value just in different ways. Being flexible and able to be ok in either the “B” or the “C” position is important for successful relationships.

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