By Coleen York
Relationships can be established on a lot of different things. Hobbies, looks, goals, occupations, sex, talent, church, fame. But ultimately, there are four basic (but major) foundations on which relationships can be built.
Seems pretty standard. Unfortunately, relationships can be built on all or only one of these principles. Let’s take a look at each category and discuss what each of these connections really means to our relationships.
I know this one seems self-explanatory. She thinks he’s hot. He thinks she’s smokin’. Your eyes meet from across the room, and it’s like a jolt of electricity. There they are. You’ve been searching for them all your life … the elusive unicorn! Perfection in bodily form. You knew God was an artist, but DANG … He has clearly outdone Himself. You could happily look at them for the rest of your life. You don’t even need to talk. After all, how could someone so insanely attractive be anything but perfect in every other area?
Unfortunately, we often make excuses for the other three foundations when this one is present. Don’t get me wrong; finding the person you are dating attractive IS important. But many times we rush into a relationship with someone just because they are rather exquisite looking before we know if the other foundational pillars are standing. And if we find that they aren’t … well, we tend to fudge things a little bit or lie to ourselves so we can keep the unicorn.
The Physical Connection is often the first foundation formed because it’s what you KNOW is there before you know if the other three are present. Just, don’t let it stop there.
Once you get past the drooling stage and are actually able to articulate coherent sentences again, you begin to form a foundation built around your personalities. Do they mesh? Are they funny? Do they annoy you? Are they self-absorbed? Are YOU self-absorbed? Is she smart? Is he protective? Are you able to have conversations with one another that leave you wanting to know them more? Over time, do you notice they are becoming your best friend? In order to actually have a lasting relationship with someone you need to appreciate who they are and ENJOY hanging out with them. If there are issues or traits that you find begin to raise some red flags, don’t make excuses or ignore it. Pray about it, talk to them about it, and search your heart.
The emotional connection is also something of a “chemical” connection. Emotional bonds can be forged through major life experiences, or can be simply defined as the “it” factor. They get you. You get them. You have the freedom to expose elements of your soul, your deepest feelings with them without fear judgment. This doesn’t always happen overnight, but sometimes it does.
As a result, emotional bonds can be formed rapidly, and sometimes you can give yourself emotionally to a person before you should. Emotions can mislead you, they can lie to you, and they can drown out the Holy Spirit’s voice and force logic into the background. It’s hard to let go of something if your heart is no longer in your hands but someone else’s. I’m not saying you shouldn’t forge emotional bonds in relationships. A relationship devoid of emotion is cold and transactional. Emotions are at the very core of relationships. They are essential.
However, do not build a relationship ONLY on feelings and emotional responses. Butterflies are awesome. You should have them. But don’t let a butterfly be the only thing that carries your relationship. It won’t be able to support it or sustain you.
Do we NEED emotional connections? Yes. Absolutely. We especially need to be with someone who understands and compliments our emotional range. Some people feel more passionately than others. Some people have the emotional capacity of a dung beetle. It’s important to understand the balance and emotional responses of the person you are dating and how they coincide with your own.
I saved the best for last. Basically, if you have all three of the other pillars in place, but are missing a spiritual connection, you’re going to have one shaky structure.
As Christians, 2 Corinthians 6:14 tells us that it is unwise to team up (or yoke ourselves) with unbelievers. If you are a Christ-follower, it shapes every aspect of your life, including your future goals, hopes, aspirations, and relationship values. It is the core of who we are.
As a result, a relationship lacking in this area may also take hits in the other three categories as well. It’s difficult to develop lasting bonds emotionally and personally if there is a giant chunk of your life you are unable to relate or talk about with one another. It is THE most important element. It’s the map that guides your life. If you’re both not reading the same map … there may be some serious disconnect between your ultimate destinations, pit stops, and the “scenery” you think is good.
Ultimately, if Jesus is your center, your desire should be to be in a relationship with someone who pushes you closer to God and encourages your walk and growth with Him. Not someone who distracts you away from God or places more doubt in your mind. A great relationship won’t distract you away from God, but will attract you TO God and will come alongside you when you are battling doubt.
Everyone has their unique story. Relationships do not follow a specific formula. My goal was not to give you a mathematical equation for the perfect relationship. These are foundational principles, but there’s a lot more that goes into every relationship. Give and take. Compromise. Conversation. Arguments. Joy. It’s not an exact science. Every one of these areas can be developed and grown (both together and separately). But on the road to building a lasting, strong, healthy, and godly relationship, take some time to evaluate these principles. Check in with them, make sure you haven’t opted for one over another, or left any out. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with each other. Most of all, be honest with God and the Holy Spirit, listening for His guidance and allowing yourself to be sensitive to His nudging while forging relationships.