I co-hosted a radio show recently with special guest Dr. Adam Sheck, an Imago Relationship Therapist. He and I became friends via Facebook and realized we think alike and often write about the same things at the same time. One of the things we discussed last night was the three C’s of relationships. I thought it would be helpful to share them here.
Chemistry. The first C is what initially attracts us to each other in the first place. This needs little or no explanation. You meet someone, you’re drawn to them, and you are intensely attracted to them. Chemistry is what gets people together in the first place, but the initial round of chemistry usually wears off after about six months. Another word for chemistry is eroticism, and once the initial honeymoon phase is over it’s up to each individual to actively participate in maintaining eroticism in the relationship.
Compatibility. The second C is what keeps us together after the honeymoon phase is over. Once the intense chemistry wears off, you have to find common points of interest to stay connected. It’s not necessary to share everything together, but you do need to have more things in common than not. Compatibility is a double edged sword, however. What makes us comfortable with each other tends to deaden eroticism, so we have to figure out how to maintain a little bit of mystery to keep desire smoldering.
Commitment. The third C is what keeps us together in a long term relationship, when the going gets tough and the first two C’s feel like a distant memory. Couples can decide, from the desire of their minds, to maintain a commitment (usually either for the sake of children or because moving on seems too difficult) to stay with each other even when chemistry has faded and/or they realize they’re not very compatible. Of the two, chemistry is the easiest to rekindle. Compatibility can’t be faked, but chemistry can be sparked just by adding the element of surprise into the relationship. From role-playing to polyamory, there is a wide spectrum of choices for couples who wish to rekindle the sexual component of their relationship.
I’m reminded of a mnemonic phrase from grammar school: I before E, except after C. That could translate as: Intimacy before Eroticism, except after Commitment. Once you commit to sticking it out, you have to put eroticism before intimacy or you’ll be in for a long, slow haul.