Something’s missing in my relationships. But I don’t know what’s missing… I know I want deeper relationships with my partner and friends, but what does deeper really entail?
Those were my thought for a long period of time. I felt that I didn’t connect with anyone on a deeper level. At the same time I couldn’t put the finger on what was missing in the relationships. That was until I read Steve Pavlina’s articles Enjoying Rich and Abundant Relationships and 4 Dimensional Relationships in 2013. Then everything finally started to make sense. All the pieces started falling into place.
Learning about 4D relationships transformed my life for the better. So many things have come out of the knowledge of what parts make a relationship deep. And the articles put words on what I’ve been feeling my entire life. I’d say only one other idea has changed my relationships as much. And that’s the five love languages. So I try to spread these ideas to anyone I have a longer or deeper discussion with.
In the last year though 4D relationships haven’t come to my mind that often. Recently though I shared a short summary of the idea of 4D relationship with another person. That inspired me to write this article to share with you 🙂
So what are 4D relationships? The idea is that all relationships, friend and romantic, consists of 4 parts (or dimensions): body, mind, heart, spirit. Each dimension scores from 1 (non-existent) to 10 (awesome).
Body is how physical of a relationship you have with the other person. Are you very formal and only shake hands? Then that’s a 1 in that relationship. Do you hug each other when you meet? How about cuddling together? Kissing? Sex? How great is the sex?
A 10 equate to a great sex-life, cuddling, kissing and feeling physically fulfilled in every aspect.
What I found in my relationships was that I never ever had any physical contact with anyone. I almost never hugged anyone except one friend who loved hugs. All my non-romantic relationships scored 1-2 in body.
I wasn’t very physical, albeit being a physical person who loves touch. Thus I wanted to grow and become more physical with all my friends where it was acceptable. In most cases that meant hugging them when we see each other. It was scary as hell, and sometimes I still find it scary, especially with some old friends. I find it easier to ask for hugs among never people.
I’m grateful for taking action and going outside of my comfort zone. And while I’m still not comfortable touching people—not in the weird way, but laying a hand on the shoulder etc.—I find it a lot easier to ask for hugs. And I’ve even dared to ask some people if they’d like to cuddle. That is if I would like to cuddle with them.
Mind is how intellectual and stimulating conversations you have. Do you learn new things, get a new perspective, going outside of your box, or discovering new things about yourself when you have a conversation with the other person?
Most of my relationships looked like this as most of my friend are very intellectual. I had great conversations with them. But we never talked about feelings (which is part of the heart dimension).
After reading about 4D relationships I never focused on finding new mind connections. I have such an easy time finding those. Although I’ve been searching for more people interested in personal development. But I don’t settle for relationships that only have the mind dimension any longer. Not where the other dimensions are close to non-existent. I often try to introduce another dimension into the relationship.
Heart is about sharing, expressing, and feeling emotions. This is where it gets a bit trickier, at least I thought so as body and mind were quite easy for me to understand.
A score of 1 equates to never sharing any emotion, not showing (expressing) any emotions, and not feeling any particular emotion for that person. To score 10 in the relationship it’s not enough to love the person and express that love. You have to talk about feelings and be vulnerable…
Talking about my feelings and being vulnerable was extremely hard for me. At the time I was someone who never ever had talked about my feelings to anyone. Not to my partner, not to my closest friends, not to anyone. At least not deep personal feelings. Never even telling friends if I had a crush on someone, except two times when they asked me if I had a crush.
I was scared to death knowing I had to start to open up and talk about my feelings. At the same time a tiny light of hope started to shine inside me. That I too would be able to fill that hole in most my relationships. It took another two years before I finally opened up and started talking to people. But in the end I did it and I’m so grateful for that.
When I set my new year’s resolutions for 2017 I found that I again had begun to close up and not talk about my feelings. As anything else, opening up is a skill. If you don’t practice opening up and being vulnerable it will get harder. The fear is always there, but it’s easier to go through the fear if you do it often enough.
Spirit was the hardest one to understand for me. To be honest I didn’t understand it when I read the article. I only grasped the dimension the previous year. I.e. 3 years later. At the same time I’m not sure I grasp it even now.
Spirit is how connected you feel to each other—i.e. your soulfriend. But also the projects you are working on together.
Soulfriend is like a soulmate, but I like the more neutral sound of soulfriend and that you can have more than one. If you find a soulfriend you just know it, it’s a feeling you have that you are connected. It’s not being in love or having a crush is part of the heart dimension. It’s something else. Your intuition says that you should stay together no matter what.
As a soulfriend you could be working on project or diving into a topic together. It could be everything from creating a family, playing games together, wanting to explore BDSM, starting a company together, going to personal development workshops, to sharing TED-talks.
You can say it’s how similar interests you have. But that’s not the entire picture. You might start a company together, but you might be interested in it in different ways. But it’s a project you have together. And being passionate about the same interested doesn’t mean you score high in spirit.
What makes a relationship 4D?
For a relationship to be a 4D all dimensions have to score 9 or 10. Thus they are somewhat rare, but not at all impossible to find. A 3D relationship is where you score 9 or 10 in 3 dimensions. It doesn’t matter if you score an 8 in the remaining category. It’s still a 3D relationship. I’ll come back to why only 9 and 10’s count. Similarly a 1D relationship scores 9 or 10 in one dimension.
A relationship doesn’t always stay at the same dimension. The score can increase or decrease over time. As I opened up and talked about my feelings to my friends it deepened our heart connection. Usually in the range of 4–8, and one or two 9 or 10’s. When I instead closed up and didn’t talk about my feelings to my partner all dimensions scored less.
Even though all relationships can be upgraded, very few can be upgraded to a 4D relationship. You either don’t match with the other person, or you or them might not want that kind of relationship. For example if you’re straight or lesbian/gay a large part of the population is cut off. Then there’s also a lot of people that don’t have the same taste as you, aren’t interested in the same things, etc. You can’t force a relationship to become 4D.
Still, I used to think that it was possible to create a 4D relationship with any romantic partner. But it’s not possible. There are a ton of people you don’t match with. And even though lets say 1 out of 10 000 relationships can become a 4D relationship you have a high chance to find one. Why? Because it’s probably someone that’s like you. Meaning they hang out where you hang out. They have similar taste and interests.
Creating a 4D relationship requires that you have worked and are working on yourself. I have a 4D relationship with my current partner. I’m lucky that I found her so quick. But it might be that I worked on myself and knew what I looked for in a partner. That might have attracted her into my life.
If we would’ve met two or even one year earlier I’m not sure we would’ve matched. Back then I hadn’t opened up to anyone. Though I still had some work left to do when I met her. But I had at least taken steps in all areas of my life and made . So I’m glad we met when we met.
4D relationships are subjective (sort of)
It’s good to keep in mind that 4D relationships are subjective. Meaning that just because you find a relationship to have 4D doesn’t mean the other person does. We all have different needs and feelings.
For example if you’re deeply in love and share your own feelings and fears doesn’t mean the other person feels the same way. Another example is if you meet someone you find stimulates your mind with various topics. But that doesn’t mean the other person find them stimulating. T could be tired of talking about those topics as that’s what they usually talk about.
7–8: a 1 in disguise
What would a relationship with a score of 7 or 8 in all dimensions be? In my (and Steve’s) opinion that would be a 0D relationship. How come?
Let us for a moment say that you have a romantic relationship. You have tried for more than a year to make it a 4D relationship. But you’ve only been able to get a 7 or 8 in all dimensions. How come this relationship is only a 0D? Where another relationship with 10 in mind and 1–2 in all others is a 1D relationship?
I’ve been in a similar relationship. I became content with how the relationship was. It wasn’t awesome, but it was good and sometimes great. And that’s an easy trap to fall into. You settle for an okay or mediocre relationship instead of an awesome relationship. I’ve lied to myself in many situations like that. Not only with relationships. But that the situation is better, or going to get better than it will be.
Think of a good, but not special movie will you remember it dearly, talk about it and recommend it to friends? I wouldn’t But what about a movie that has awesome visual effects but mediocre story. Let us say that the old Star Wars movies had mediocre writing. But they had awesome visual effects for their time. I’d be enthusiastic and share all visual details with my friends if I had watched it on the cinema when it came out.
What this means is that 9 is a lot better than 8, and even 10 is a lot better than 9. I’ve illustrated this in the graph below. For example a score of 8 equals 64%, barely above good. Of course this depends on how you score your relationships. But this is what I’ve found in my relationships, that I value those 9 or 10’s a lot higher than a 7.
4D isn’t always desirable
Even though 7–8 aren’t as good as you might think I want to point out that scoring 9–10 in all dimensions isn’t always desirable. There are a lot of people that’s a partial match and that you can have a great time with. I still have a lot of 1D relationships in my life where some of the other dimensions scores are 5+. I’m happy with how those relationships are and I want to keep those in my life. At the same time I don’t want to spend too much time in those relationships. Not without trying to turn them into a 2D relationship. I find 1D relationships shallow and boring if I spend more than a couple of days with them. Especially if they’re only mind connections. I need some body, heart, or spirit to feel fulfilled.
In monogamous relationships it’s not always desirable to form any body, or heart connection. Except with your spouse and non-romantic heart connections with your family.
In open (poly sexual) relationships body connections are open to other, often sexual, partners. In polyamorous you’re able to have many romantic and sexual partners. Disclaimer: The meaning of open relationships, poly sexual, and polyamory is different for almost every person.
Personally, I’d have a hard time forming only a body (sexual) connection without a heart connection. Heart connections are such a huge part of my relationships today. Although I only have one 9–10 heart connection. And that’s with my current partner.
How I use 4D relationships
What I like about 4D relationships tool is that it makes it easy to see what’s missing in a relationship. But it can also be used to set boundaries.
If I sense that something is missing in romantic relationship I can check each dimension to get a clue what’s missing.
Body? Do we cuddle, hug, hold hands, and kiss often? How’s our sex?
Mind? How has our conversations been lately. Have they been fresh and new? Stimulating? Interesting? What topics have we talked about? Is there something I’d like to talk more about?
Heart? How in love have I felt? Have I’ve been present or have my mind wandered elsewhere when we’ve been together? Have I numbed my feelings? How open have I’ve been with my own feelings? Have I been scared of telling her something and postponing it?
Spirit? What projects have we had together lately? What kind of projects? Are there any projects I’d like us to do together? This can be to go to a cinema together, it can be to rent a cottage over the weekend. It can be to do a personal development exercise together. Or a longer goal such as having new sexual experiences (and being explicit what those experiences are).
For other relationships
I often think about what I sense is missing in my life. Is it a lot of body, mind, heart, or spirit connections? Maybe a combination of these? That way I know what to focus on developing in existing and if we’re a good match in new relationships. But I also use it to set boundaries. I.e. how much physical connection do I want? Do I want to keep it to hugs? How about cuddling? You get the point. The same goes for all other dimensions. What kind of relationships would I want?
Most people don’t have any boundaries for mind connections. But it can be good to know the other person’s boundaries. How physical do they want to be with you? If they don’t like hugs, then you have to accept that. Or they might feel comfortable cuddling, but only when other friends are present.
Are you in love with them, are they in love with you? Is it a romantic relationship, or a very good friendship? How can you express that love in a way you both feel comfortable with?
How about being vulnerable with them? Sharing what’s on your mind. Troubles you’re having? I’ve found that most people are okay when you open up to them. Some people are more reserved and feel uncomfortable if you share something intimate too fast. A good advice is usually go slow. Some people (like me) like when it goes deep very fast. That hasn’t always been appreciated xD. For example I would most of the time answer truthfully if anyone would ask what my greatest fear is. But it would take some time before I find the courage to do so.
Would they like to have a project with you? Maybe they’d like to but other things in life are more important now.
The next step
Writing about 4D relationships got me thinking about my own relationships in life. How do my closest relationships look like? Is there something that’s missing? Would I like to further develop them. I’m going to take an hour or two right now to journal.
Are there any relationships you’d like to deepen? How’s your current romantic relationship doing?
If you’re coming from where I came from—not being able to talk about feelings and being closed up—then you’re into a hard, but awesome ride. It took a lot of work on myself to be able to have a 4D relationship. Being vulnerable never gets easy. That’s the whole definition of being vulnerable.
Please comment below and share your story. Are there any dimensions you’re missing in your life right now? What would you like more of?
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