The complete metaphorical triangle indicates the level of Intimacy, Passion and Commitment that each partner experiences in the relationship.
The hearts between the couple indicate the Intimacy, Passion and Commitment which is uniquely co-created between them at each level of their being (material/social, physical/sexual, power/creativity, feelings/emotions, self-expression, vision, and spiritual), and guided by their shared higher purpose. This new way of love and relating is described in greater detail with an integration of feminine and masculine polarities as well as gross, subtle and causal state-stages in the forthcoming book Integral Evolutionary Love Relationships: Why Co-Creation and Pro-Creation Matter and during our events.
When all three sides of the triangles are aligned between a couple in kind and degree, we speak of an Integral Relationship (explained below from Integral Relationships: A Manual for Men page 112 -117).
The Quadrants and the Triangles:
The "Four Quadrants" and triangles are integrated through the realization that love is experienced by each partner in the individual upper left interior “I” (mind, consciousness, feelings) and individual upper right exterior “it” (body, hormones, sexuality, behavior, etc.) quadrants, but that the actual love relationship itself is co-created through the lower “we” and “its” quadrants. These two form the left and right side of the triangle. The bottom of the triangle represents the unconscious dimensions (including anima/animus complex), which lead to various levels of dependence (first tier consciousness) and inter-being/becoming (second tier), and the resulting levels of commitment to the partner/relationship.
By drawing the levels for each of these three core elements (Intimacy, Passion and Commitment) as lines, we can combine them into differently shaped metaphorical triangles. Understanding the shape and congruence of the triangles will allow you to understand the type and quality of the love relationship that you and your partner experience.
Aligning His and Her Triangles:
If you draw two triangles, one for each partner, showing the levels of Intimacy, Passion and Commitment (indicated by the length of each of the triangle’s three sides), that each partner experiences in a love relationship, the triangles will be shaped differently. You can then superimpose them onto each other to see how they line up.
In triangles 1 above, one partner experiences a high level of Dependence and Passion (right and bottom side aka Crazy Love), but little Intimacy (left side), while the other experiences medium levels of Intimacy and Commitment but little Passion (aka Companionate Love).
In triangle 2 above, one partner experiences a high level of Dependence and Passion and almost no Intimacy (left side aka Crazy Love), while the other experiences medium levels of Intimacy and Passion but little Commitment (aka Romantic Love).
In triangle 3 above, both partners experience an equal amount of Intimacy, Passion and Commitment (Integral or Consummate Love).
Where the sides overlap, the relationship is experienced as balanced, harmonized, and rewarding; where they don’t, the couple will feel challenged, conflicted, unsatisfied, and unmet in their needs.
Eight Forms of Love:
Varying levels of the three core elements of love relationships that we outlined above (intimacy, Passion, and Dependence) produce eight basic forms of love that people may experience.[i] Some of the relationships are platonic in nature, or may feel like love, but are not—at least not in the healthy definition. Others denote actual love relationships by aligning two, and ultimately integrating, balancing, and harmonizing all three sides of the triangle in a healthy way (Integral Relationships). Below is the description of the eight forms of love:
- Non-love is present if there is no mutual experience of intimacy, passion, or dependence between two individuals. However, sometimes people keep meeting at school, work, social groups, or in other environments for some time without feeling any particular attraction before noticing each other as potential mates, and one or more sides of the love triangle may start to evolve and align between them. Hence “non-love” may grow into other forms of love over time if two people engage in fun or meaningful activities together on a regular basis, and if their first impression of each other is neutral or at least not negative.[ii]
- Friendship develops when two people share intimacythrough an intellectual, interest-based, or spiritual resonance in kind and degree through their lower left quadrants. The quality and depth of their friendship are determined by the alignment of their respective interior lines (cognitive, communicative, worldviews, values, moral, spiritual, etc.), as well as shared interests and hobbies. Friendship is often the prerequisite for a woman to enter into a sexual relationship, while men tend to be more driven by their physical/sexual attraction in the right-hand quadrants that may (or may not) lead to friendship after sex. Vulnerability, truthfulness,[iii] and honesty are vital factors for the development of mature friendships through intimacy, since integrity is the main ingredient for building trust.[iv]
- Infatuation[v] is experienced when a passionate physical attraction—triggered through the fulfillment of a man’s or woman’s Primary Fantasyin the right-hand quadrants—is the sole factor that draws an individual to a member of the opposite sex, and his or her body secretes the “falling in love” hormonesthat we discussed in Chapter 5. For males, a seductive sexual female image (a suitable sex object) is usually enough to experience passion and to get infatuated. For most females, a combination of power, social status, wealth, wit, humor, and intelligence (since women want success objects), combined with physical attractiveness and kindness towards her and dominant aggressive behavior towards others (protection) are the prerequisites to get infatuated.
Unlike the left intimacy side of the triangle, which requires a mutual resonance between two people to develop into a friendship, infatuation can be a one-way street. It can be quite painful if the passionate sexual longings of one person are not met by an equal amount of fervor from the object of their desire. In any case, met or unmet infatuation may lead to sexual addiction, destructive behavior, emotional havoc, social isolation, depression, and financial ruin.
Increasing sexiness of individuals leads to deeper feelings of infatuation for the people who fall for them; for example, men losing their heads over much younger, curvaceous, or otherwise attractive women (e.g., poor Goethe at age 73 agonizing over Ulrike von Levetzow, age 18), or women over powerful males, (e.g., Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton). Similar to the propensity of certain people to become alcohol or drug addicts while others don’t, some people get infatuated more frequently while others never experience this form of love.
- Commitment between partners arises through various forms of dependence that result from a mutually compatible unconscious fit between the partners. The energetic push/pull always appears to be mysterious to the lovers that are negatively afflicted or positively graced by it,[vi] but nevertheless, it can be understood with effort.
There are two underlying dynamics for the appearance of dependence that are often confused. One originates from pathological (unhealthy) split-offs, negations, repressions, or dissociations that create a sense of lack, neediness, and deficiency (see submerged unconscious shadows and anima/animus complex above) that the lovers project onto each other. The second results from a sense of fullness, abundance, or wholeness—along with the desire to share one’s blessings, to complement, balance, harmonize, synergize, expand, grow, and to be understood in a partnership (see ground, embedded, and emergent unconscious). Elizabeth Gilbert’s grandfather said, “sometimes life is too hard to be single, and sometimes life is too good not to be shared,” which nicely illustrates the two motives that lead to commitment between two people. Since both dynamics tend to be unconscious and vary in kind and degree for different domains and phases of life (money, sexuality, time, work, family, spirituality, worldviews, feminine, masculine, etc.), neither partner can know for certain which parts of their hidden self cause the unconscious attraction, and which of the six general facets of dependence that are outlined below may be the result:
- Codependent relationships develop between individuals with severe pathologies (usually from childhood trauma) and other forms of psychosis[vii] that typically require treatment from a professional therapist to be healed.[viii] These lovers are often fused (along with the accompanying separation anxiety and jealousy attacks), or engage in endless “seduce and withhold” games.
- Milder forms of shadow and neurosis[ix] may create a sense of closeness or bond between dependent Conflicts in these love relationships are often ignored, attributed to the differences between men (are from Mars) and women (are from Venus), accepted as the inevitable reality of any partnership, or—at best—dealt with and accepted through empathetic dialog and compromise that may be supported by self-help books, workshops, or a marriage and family therapist.
- Women who reach a certain level of emotional and financial freedom enter the stage of independence and often leave their partners unilaterally (or cause them to leave) to live alone and to claim their full authority (animus stage four). This forces an ever-increasing number of men to find new meaning and purpose in their life, independent of a female partner. Some people—especially women in the New Age and feminist movements, but also pathologically agentic men—see the pursuit of independence as the highest level of any personal and spiritual development, as they strive to be autonomous, whole, complete, and self-fulfilled without a partner. Any desire to be in a healthy love relationship that may arise in them or others is seen as a weakness and regression towards “un-evolved” dependent or codependent partnerships that they have just escaped.
This motivates individuals who are stuck at this level to move ever further towards pathological agentic ascending, or descending, instead of recognizing independence as a healthy and necessary (but ultimately transitory) prerequisite to enter the next stage of human relating: interdependence.
- Individuals in the interdependent stage realize that nobody exists independent of others,[x] and that a balanced and harmonized personality development at all levels of our being (body, mind, heart, and soul) always occurs by integrating the healthy aspects of the feminine/masculine polarities in their interior and exterior quadrants in self-other relationships.[xi] For them, sharing material resources by living together, cherishing differing views that stem from a shared level of consciousness, practicing sacred sexuality, doing shadow work,[xii] being of service to others, and the desire to awaken to their true purpose, take center stage.
Unlike individuals in the independent stage who pretend to be whole and complete—and hence avoid partnerships that would challenge their ego (false separate sense of self)—interdependent couples cherish their differences as the by-product of their “pretension to completeness”[xiii] and welcome opposing views as a vehicle for their deepest healing, learning, personal growth, spiritual realization, and service to others.[xiv]
- Singles and couples who have advanced into Integral stages of consciousness and higher levels of spiritual realizations may still experience a devotional yearning towards their “divine other,” but feel no more emotional or sexual neediness. They are at peace and grounded in their essential “Being” and are neither desperate for, nor avoid a partnership. If in a love relationship with an opposite and equal, they experience what we may call “Inter-Being” in which each partner just is, without any need to change the other, to accommodate, or to be accommodated. Neither of them lusts for anybody else, nor do they fear to be consumed or abandoned, which opens up the possibility for mature monogamy[xv] and unconditional Love that is by definition devoid of any need or fear.[xvi]
- Inter-Becoming is the latest emergence in love relationships in which partners not only love (accept) each other for who they are now (Inter-Being), but also for who they will become through ongoing learning, healing, growing, awakening and what they uniquely co-create as a couple by sharing their purpose.
- Romantic love develops between partners who share intimacy and sexual passion, but don’t experience a deeper commitment through a mutually compatible unconscious fit. This is the kind of love that most women desire and is romanticized in countless movies, novels, and love songs. These women dream of a supportive, wealthy, powerful, and generous partner with similar interests, values, and lifestyle choices as their own, who shares their passionate sexual attraction (chemistry), but does not challenge them to heal, grow, and awaken to a deeper realization.[xvii] In other words, they want someone with “no baggage” who loves, cherishes, and accepts them for who they are, with all their emotional wounds, dysfunctions, and ignorance of their ego. This kind of love is called romantic as it seeks to avoid all unpleasant aspects, work, and challenges that inevitably arise in any long-term partnership, instead of welcoming conflict as an opportunity for healing, growth, and awakening.Once the hormones that created the passion for one or both partners wear off—which usually takes between 3 and 24 months—romantic love relationships either deteriorate into friendships if there was a sufficient level of shared interests and intimacy, or break up altogether when unconscious facets of the self creep up from the bottom of the triangle and neither partner wants to—or knows how to—deal with them in an effective way (typically through appropriate therapy and/or a spiritual practice).
- Crazy love (also called mania) develops when two people share passion through a strong sexual attraction and dependence through a pathological mutually compatible unconscious fit, but have no friendship that is rooted in shared values, lifestyle choices, interests, and worldviews. This kind of love is largely driven by elevated levels of testosterone, dopamine, and norepinephrine, and lowered levels of serotonin,[xviii] and can afflict people from all walks of life. These love relationships are characterized by an addictive emotional and sexual (co)dependence that is not mediated by much (or any) rational consideration. It is called “crazy love” because the afflicted lovers are initially “crazy about each other” and any uninvolved bystander finds the soon-to-follow drama that often involves emotional and physical abuse to be crazy.[xix] Crazy love relationships are still positive, as they force the individuals who repeatedly engage in them to eventually grow to higher levels of consciousness through their painful fights and devastating breakups. This may lead them to engage in healthier romantic and eventually integral love relationships.
- Companionate love develops if a couple shares intimacyand commitment, but experiences no (more) sexual passion. This kind of love is often seen between conventional (amber/orange) and older couples. They may have gotten together because of religious or cultural conventions and pressures (such as arranged marriages), or to conceive and raise children in a family environment (conformist stage), or they saw the benefits of marriage for their social status, careers, and material success (rational stage). Companionate love may arise out of an initial friendship, but rarely out of romantic or crazy love. Couples who experience companionate love may advance towards an integrally informed love relationship if they address the issues that prevent them from having a passionate sex life, by overcoming physical problems through exercise, partner yoga, healthy eating, or medication, and through the removal of emotional blocks with the help of self-help books,[xx] a sex therapist, intimacy workshops, and tantric practices.[xxi]
- Integral love develops when a couple experiences healthy intimacy, passion, AND dependence, and integrates them in a balanced and harmonized way. Partners who share this kind of love either feel incredibly blessed and lucky that they found each other—often without actually knowing why their relationship is so satisfying—or have reached later/higher stages of development (second-tier consciousness, anima/animus complex stage five, transcendental sexuality, and spirituality beyond the psychic level) that allow them to consciously co-create an integrally informed love relationship between opposites and equals.[xxii]
Three Pairs of Triangles
In addition to the pair of triangles that represents the actual reality of the two people in a partnership, there is a second pair for the projected ideals, and a third pair for the intentions (versus the actual behavior) of each lover.
The projected ideals originate from experiences in previous love relationships such as great sex, a deep emotional bond, sharing of rewarding activities, intellectually stimulating conversations, or a divine spiritual resonance, or are inspired by friends, romantic movies, or novels. Nobody can be completely free from these projections, which increase with the amount that the actual relationship deviates from positive memories of previous partnerships and the attachment to unrealistic romantic fairy tales and sexual fantasies. Both partners will then sooner or later try to get their mate to align with their individual projected ideals. As the saying goes—“I love you—you’re perfect—now change.” Hence the suggested Zen practices of “Beginner’s Mind” to let go of these memories.[xxiii]
Men may expect their partner to stop nagging them and to be more supportive of their vision, to be less moody, to lose weight, have their breasts enlarged, or to be more accommodating in the bedroom. Women may expect him to become more emotionally available and to complain less about his job, to make more money, exercise more, be more supportive around the house, take care of the kids, spend more quality time with her, romance her more often, not lust after other women, and to be more considerate as her lover.
The third pair of triangles represents the intentions of each partner. The difference between these intentions and the actual reality (first pair of triangles) represents the integrity of the relationship. For example, a woman may intend to stay with a man forever—only to end the partnership when he doesn’t show up, behave, or produce in the way that she projected onto him (or as he promised to her). A man may intend to be faithful to his partner, to take care of her financially, and to be emotionally available, only to hide his feelings and focus his attention, time, and money on his hobbies or other women once the thrilling effect of the “romance hormones” are gone.
The dynamic between the triangles becomes really interesting in polyamorous relationships, where more than two partners, each of them with their own three triangles, are lovingly involved with each other…just to make your head spin a little if it isn’t already.
[i] See The New Psychology of Love edited by Robert J. Sternberg and Karin Weis page 149 – 170, Styles of Romantic Love by Clyde and Susan S. Hendrick, and Helen Fisher, Why We Love page 94 where they list the styles as follows:
- Eros— a passionate physical and emotional love based on aesthetic enjoyment; stereotype of romantic love
- Ludus— a love that is played as a game or sport; conquest
- Storge— an affectionate love that slowly develops from friendship, based on similarity
- Pragma— love that is driven by the head, not the heart; undemonstrative
- Mania— highly volatile love; obsession; fueled by low self-esteem
- Agape— selfless altruistic love; spiritual; motherly love
Also see page 184 – 199 “A Duplex Theory of Love” by Robert J. Sternberg who lists them as
- Non Love
- Infatuated Love
- Empty Love
- Romantic Love
- Companionate Love
- Fatuous Love (silly, stupid, ridiculous, meaningless, or foolish)
- Consummate Love (complete, perfect and highest).
[ii] See Ayala Malach Pines Falling in Love, page 3 – 11: ”Repeated exposure is yet another requirement for a romantic spark to turn into the steady flame of a love relationship. If the first impression is negative, it is best to cut contact”, Helen Fisher, Why Him Why Her? page 144-146, and the service Over 40 Dating (www.dateoverforty.com) where singles meet over several consecutive weekends for social activities to get to know each other in a “natural” setting.
[iii] Truthfulness refers to the subjective truth about the interior of a person, while “truth” refers to the objective “factual” truth in the exterior. The answer to the question of whether you had intercourse with a woman during a business trip would be an objective, factual truth. If you are in love with her or not would be subjective truthfulness. People can only be truthful to their level of consciousness (and – by definition – not about their unconscious). Children and adults are deeply conditioned to lie, because telling the truth has often negative consequences. This is often a big challenge in relationships, where telling the truth or being truthful would hurt the other partner and may get him or her to leave.
[iv] See Susan Campbell Truth in Dating: Finding Love by Getting Real, and Saying What's Real: 7 Keys to Authentic Communication and Relationship Success.
[v] Lovers who regress to a state devoid of any useful discrimination, or of being completely carried away by unreasoned passion or “love” that leads to addictive love.
[vi] Many mystics, poets, philosophers, theologians, and even scientists have pointed to this mystery; as the mathematician Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) mused “the heart has reasons that reason cannot know.”
[vii] The three primary causes for psychosis are functional (mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), organic (stemming from medical, non-psychological conditions, such as brain tumors or sleep deprivation), and psychoactive drugs (e.g. barbituates, amphetamines, and hallucinogens).
[viii] Below is an alphabetical list of psychotherapies. The list contains some approaches that may not call themselves psychotherapy but have a similar aim to improve mental health and well-being through talk and other means of communication. Choosing the best therapy and practitioner is essential to the success of the treatment. See Ken Wilber Integral Psychology page 98 - 100 for more information.
- Adlerian therapy
- Analytical psychology
- Art Therapy
- Autogenic psychotherapy
- Behavior therapy
- Biodynamic psychotherapy
- Bioenergetic analysis
- Brief therapy
- Classical Adlerian Psychotherapy
- Cognitive analytic psychotherapy
- Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy
- Concentrative movement therapy
- Contemplative Psychotherapy
- Core process psychotherapy
- Daseins analytic psychotherapy
- Depth Psychology
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
- Encounter groups
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Existential analysis
- Family systems therapy
- Feminist therapy
- Freudian psychotherapy
- Gestalt therapy
- Gestalt Theoretical Psychotherapy
- Group therapy
- Holotropic Breath work
- Humanistic psychology
- Integrative Psychotherapy
- Internal Family Systems Model
- Jungian psychotherapy
- Logo therapy
- Multimodal Therapy
- Narrative Therapy
- Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)
- Object relations theory
- Personal construct psychology (PCP)
- Positive psychotherapy
- Postural Integration
- Primal integration
- Process Oriented Psychology
- Primal therapy
- Provocative therapy
- Psychedelic psychotherapy
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy
- Psycho-Organic analysis
- Pulsing (bodywork)
- Rational emotive behavior psychotherapy
- Re-evaluation Counseling
- Reality therapy
- Reichian psychotherapy
- Rogersian (or Rogerian) psychotherapy
- Sophia analysis
- Self Relationship (or Sponsorship)
- Systemic therapy
- SHEN Therapy
- T Groups
- Transactional analysis (TA)
- Transpersonal psychology
[ix] Such as obsessive-compulsive disorders, chronic anxiety, or phobias.
[x] See Polly Young Eisendrath and Florence Wiedemann Female Authority page 222 – 223: “Thus we claim that personality is always a tandem development of self-other conceptions and never a discovery of an independent self. The fallacy of individualism, a misleading notion that we are separate units contained in private bodies like machines in little houses, leads to endless confusion about human relationship and a general repression of dependence and vulnerability. We have encountered many people – especially women – who literally believe that living alone is a condition of psychological independence. In other words, they have confused personal agency (choice, etc.) with the social condition of living alone. The idea of “living alone” is, itself, a distortion based on misconceptions about privacy because people never live alone. As organisms, we have a variety of both biological and psychological needs that prevent us from being able to survive in isolation.”
[xi] See Christian de Quincey Radical Knowing page 176 – 180: “I as subject am never reflected in things (objects) only in other “I’s” such as you.” Famous feminist activist Gloria Steinem who had quoted Irina Dunn saying “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" married David Bale in 2000 at age 66.
[xii] See www.integrallife.com/awaken/shadow/practice-3-2-1-shadow-process
[xiii] See Robert Kegan in In Over Our Heads page 313: “Couples in 4th order consciousness begin with the premise of their own completeness and see conflict as an inevitable by-product of interaction of two psychologically whole selves, while couples in 5th [Integral] order of consciousness begin with their “own tendency” to pretend to completeness (while actually being incomplete) and see conflict as the inevitable, but convertible by-product of the pretension to completeness.”
[xiv] Adyashanti, a married Zen teacher in an interview with Bert Parlee stated: "The proof of the depth and embodiment of your realization is seen in your love relationship. That's where the proof is in the pudding. If it all collapses in your relationship, you have some work to do. And people do have a lot of difficulties in their relationships.”
Eckhart Tolle, (in relationship with Kim Eng) writes in The Power Of Now page 127 (page 153 in the paperback edition) "Three failed relationships in as many years are more likely to force you into awakening than three years on a desert island shut away in your room" and on page 132 (page 159 paperback edition): "Humanity is under great pressure to evolve because it is our only chance of survival as a race. This will affect every aspect of your life and close relationships in particular. Never before have relationships been as problematic and conflict ridden as they are now. As you may have noticed, they are not here to make you happy or fulfilled. If you continue to pursue the goal of salvation through a relationship, you will be disillusioned again and again. But if you accept that the relationship is here to make you conscious instead of happy, then the relationship will offer you salvation, and you will be aligning yourself with the higher consciousness that wants to be born into this world. For those who hold on to the old patterns, there will be increasing pain, violence, confusion, and madness."
[xv] See Robert Augustus Masters Transformation through Intimacy – The Journey Towards Mature Monogamy on the page before the Introduction: "The passage from immature to mature monogamy is not just a journey of ripening intimacy with a beloved other, but also a journey into and through zones of ourselves that may be quite difficult to navigate, let alone get intimate with and integrate with the rest of our being. But however much this passage might ask of us, it gives back even more, transforming us until we are established in the unshakable love, profound passion, and radically intimate mutuality that epitomize mature monogamy. And even if we don’t end up in such a relationship, our having taken the journey toward it will immeasurably benefit us in whatever we do.”
[xvi] See David Deida Intimate Communion page 263 – 267.
[xvii] When women who seek this form of love speak of healing, learning, growth, and awakening in a partnership, they often mean that men need to do so in order to adapt to the female perspective and so no longer challenge them emotionally. These women say: “I am done growing, very evolved and happy. I love myself way too much to have a partner to make my life miserable again.” They may be right in some cases if they date men who are less conscious or balanced/integrated in their development, but all too often it is just an avoidance to take responsibility for their own uneven development. And to assume that women are more evolved than men is a ridiculous fallacy.
[xviii] See Helen Fisher, Why We Love page 52 – 56.
[xix] Women initiate domestic violence about as often as Men do when either of them feels powerless to resolve their conflicts through non-violent means (such as talking things through.) The myth that males are more abusive than women stems from the fact that women report physical abuse more often to the authorities than their partners, while males feel shame to do so and are often laughed at if they report physical abuse to the police. See Warren Farrell Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men page 33 – 39 and Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say page 123 – 162.
[xx] David Schnarch’s Passionate Marriage is a classic.
[xxi] Any kind of couples Tantra workshops or the excellent HAI workshops about love intimacy and sexuality (www.hai.org) are recommended.
[xxii] See The New Psychology of Love edited by Robert J. Sternberg and Karin Weis page 185 under intimacy about the qualities of integrally informed relationships which they describe as:
- Desire to promote the welfare of the loved one.
- Experienced happiness with the loved one.
- High regard for the loved one.
- Being able to count on the loved one in times of need.
- Mutual understanding with the loved one.
- Sharing of one’s self and ones possessions with the loved one.
- Receipt of emotional support from the loved one.
- Giving of emotional support to the loved one.
- Intimate communication with the loved one.
- Valuing of the loved one.
[xxiii] See Shunryu Suzuki Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, which suggests to approach life, and hence our relationships, without the thought of gaining anything special. Or, as Eckhart Tolle mentioned: “The ego cannot love, it always wants something.”