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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Dating From the Inside Out > 08

Dating From the Inside Out
by Susan S. Davis

Relationship Components

If you ask any relationship counselor or therapist, most would agree that the foundation of any good romantic relationship includes:

1) Passion

2) Commitment

3) Intimacy

4) Love

While passion is usually thought to be physical affection or sex, the strongest type of passion often originates from a strong desire to be with another person, rather than simply a physical connection or attraction, which is why its power cannot easily be measured.

Commitment is often thought to be both emotional and intellectual devotion to the relationship. Intimacy, which is often confused with sex, is actually more of a sense of feeling close and connected, on a spiritual rather than strictly physical level. This is why, lacking any cerebral dedication, some people can engage in casual sexual activity and then so easily abandon any involvement with a particular person.

Commitment, in actuality, often involves a sense of welfare for a partner, desiring happiness for them and respect, while being able to count on the other in times of need. It also includes mutual understanding, sharing, talking intimately, giving emotional support, valuing the other, and finding the partner to be predictable and trustworthy.

Love or Lust

Love may be thought of as a warm emotional feeling for a partner, in which the bonding force of the relationship encompasses passion, commitment and intimacy. Just thinking about a person can trigger an influx of positive sensations of varying physical, emotional and spiritual kinds.

Sexual chemistry is an important component in many relationships, some more than others. It’s important to realize that, in the long term, there may come a time when that bright physical excitement that carried you along fades a little, tapers off more than you would have liked, or even vanishes. While there are remedies for these situations, it still bears to question, where does that leave you? If that was all that your relationship consisted of, you may begin to feel the lack of the other components, such as having some similar interests, life goals and values.

Of course, other things interact with the four components mentioned above, such as similarity, predictability, attraction, personal needs and family concerns, and, of course mutuality. But without the foundation of those four components to some degree, all of the other issues such as religion, location, friendship, common interests, hobbies, life style, age, children, philosophies and general values won’t be worth evaluating. In order to truly partner with someone, on any level, the issues that are most important to both parties must be confronted and dealt with to each person’s satisfaction.

On the issue of children, another aspect to consider is the raising of them. It’s all fine and good to “want children,” but the subject is much deeper than that. This is where areas such as religion, number of children, how they will be raised in terms of general philosophy, including things such as capital punishment, and in what situations, is very important to be clear on before having them.

Back to Basics

While age can make a difference, great strides have been made of late in relation to the unbalanced societal viewpoint of older men/younger women and older women/younger men, proving that age, in and of itself, only matters if it interferes with the rest of the components and what is important to both parties. For example, if a man desires to have his own children, and the woman is unable or unwilling to have them due to her age, this would be a major concern to consider. One way to compromise on this issue, if it were simply that the woman was too old to bear children, is adoption.

If both people feel comfortable and fulfilled with each other, then age is usually not of much concern, and people should not let society, family members or social mores dictate to them whom they should spend their time and life with on that basis. In the end, it’s only you who has to confront the day-to-day issues of your life, and if you have found someone you truly connect with, their physical age is most often of little issue, as long as both are consenting adults.


Similar activity interest is important to some degree, however, if your partner enjoys a particular past time and you don’t, if it’s something that doesn’t involve physical intimacy or something of that nature, that’s usually fine, as well. One way around it is that each person partakes in an activity that they enjoy simultaneously, but instead of with each other, with like-minded people. As long as the activity is not something that would potentially breach any agreement you have with the other party as to commitment or another basic tenet of the relationship, it should be all right to participate without them. It is also important to ensure that an activity you both like to do together gets equal time and attention.

While it’s important that the aforementioned four components be present in a successful relationship, it certainly isn’t necessary for them to be in equal amounts. Since every relationship is different, it would be nearly impossible to gauge a relationship’s success upon the varying amounts of each component.

However, it makes sense that problems may arise when a component that is important to one partner (or both) is neglected by the other such that insufficient attention to it results. The above demonstrates, again, why communication is so important in any relationship. In addition, issues may occur whenever partners differ in their definition of the components or if one partner puts more into the relationship than the other. Imbalances can create discord and can easily be avoided with real communication where both parties understand the importance of one another’s desires and requirements for a fulfilling relationship.

In summary, when evaluating dating or relationship prospects, the sooner you address all of the most important issues that determine your goals, the better for all concerned. Once the most key issues are confronted, you can then surmise whether it is productive to continue to pursue an individual, for whatever level of relationship you are interested in having, and continue along the path of discovering more about someone, while developing the bonds that, if handled well, may last as long as you want them to; perhaps, a lifetime.

Susan S. Davis is a published book author and writer, currently doing research for a romantic screenplay she is writing. Her Dating From The Inside Out column is published every Tuesday.

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