Relationships are a vehicle for self-knowledge.
While we are all on different paths, we will likely all experience four different types of relationships in this lifetime, as we learn more about ourselves and what we want and need from love.
Sigmund Freud was the first to describe the three components of our sense of self: the id, super-ego, and the ego.
Yet, these aren’t just parts of our personality make-up, but also types of relationships that we will need to enter into, sometimes repeatedly, before we are able to find balance in love and in love with another.
Some of us may breeze through our id and super-ego relationships, while others may not enter into a more ego-based relationship until later on in life. It all depends on where we are on our journey and what lessons we need to learn before we are in the place to build a lasting relationship.
And then, there is a fourth kind of relationship—the one where we remove the ego altogether—and see what happens when our soul takes charge.
The Id Relationship
This relationship is slightly immature and usually based on looks, instant gratification, and satisfaction of whims. This relationship is all about pleasure—at least in the beginning. We will like the way our partner looks because of how it reflects upon us, and we will mainly be looking for this relationship to satisfy our buried desire of pleasure.
As young adults, we may not be concerned with anything more than what feels good, yet this desire for fun and good times won’t last long, simply because it’s not meant to.
This type of relationship can translate into a slew of shallow love affairs, one-night stands, or that one relationship that never really leaves the hook-up phase.
Yet, this relationship phase is a necessary one. We need to lean into and indulge our id phase because only by getting what simply feels good will we realize that it’s not enough. This recognition won’t be instantaneous, but will develop over time, as we emotionally and mentally mature.
In id relationships nothing gets too serious. It’s all about what feels good—until it doesn’t. Then, we may be left struggling with “why not.”
The lesson we will learn from this relationship is: just because it’s good for who we are in the moment, doesn’t mean it’s good for the person we are becoming.
The Super-Ego Relationship
This relationship is all about making everyone else happy—except ourselves.
We don’t know ourselves fully at this point, and so this relationship is meant to satisfy our need to please others, specifically family, and what they think we need in order to be happy.
It might be a high school sweetheart or college romance, but the one thing this relationship is about, is pleasing others. That’s why, once more emotional depth is needed by one or both partners, it will fall apart.
The goal of this relationship is not meant to traverse the deepest parts of our minds or to develop an intense level of intimacy; instead it is simply about satisfying that part of ourselves that likes to satisfy others.
We will all have one relationship that we choose because it looked like the one we should be in.
That’s not to say that this relationship doesn’t serve a purpose. It does. But, it’s not one that will be able to stand the test of time as we emotionally and mentally mature from only pleasing others to looking at what actually pleases us.
The major lesson of this relationship is: just because everyone else thinks it’s right, doesn’t mean it is.
The Ego Relationship
The ego phase is more balanced than the id or super-ego but it still is operating from a place of fear. The ego doesn’t like surprises, and instead prefers the safety of the known.
At all costs, the ego’s major focus in relationships is to escape any sort of grief—and this includes ending the relationship.
These relationships tend to be one of our first long-term affairs, and often feel as though it will last forever.
The ego relationship often feels like it masks some of our core needs and wants for a partner simply because of the chaos that is presumed will ensue should this relationship end. It’s one that challenges our sense of safety, as well as how we expect long-term love to feel.
This connection may feel good in the beginning, and would likely pacify family as well. Yet, for many of us, this relationship is not the one we choose to remain in.
The main lesson of this relationship: just because nothing is “wrong,” doesn’t mean it’s right either.
This leads us to the fourth and often most elusive type of relationship—the one where we detach from ego altogether and follow our souls.
The Soul Relationship
Most likely this relationship will occur later in life simply because of the level of consciousness required to pursue this type of love. Many would argue that it’s impossible to separate our sense of self from ego. Yet what this really means, is that we are looking at what is driving our desire to be with a particular partner.
This relationship will be fulfilling without us pursuing it for pleasure, family ideals, or an inner sense of safety.
This relationship won’t be a sure bet—but we will still feel pulled toward it.
There will be a connecting on a different level of communication and intimacy—one that surpasses any of the previous relationships. It’s this connection that is about helping us become our best possible selves, and why we ultimately will choose this partner.
It won’t always be easy, but it will provide us with an exponential amount of growth.
It won’t make everyone happy, but it will make us happy.
It won’t always feel good, but it will teach us something.
This is the relationship that may come up unexpectedly and with the wrong person. It may even occur when we are in an ego relationship, but we will choose this connection, simply because it seems to choose us.
The major lesson in this fourth and final type of relationship is: just because we thought we had love figured out—doesn’t mean we did.
Author: Kate Rose
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman
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