top of page

Entangled Vines: The Seven Bridges of Relationships

Updated: Jul 4, 2023


As human beings grow and develop, they pass through multiple stages of development. Perhaps the most familiar framework is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. A person typically develops needs in one level before moving onto the next.


Upon recognizing a potential soulmate, the path to building a relationship follows a similar path to the one that we use to build ourselves. Two complete, whole individuals can climb the Tree of Life together – symbiotically assisting each other along the way. The insights that gleaned through this process indicate signs of the “stage” of the relationship, opportunities for growth, and symptoms of struggle. In this way, a relationship is treated like the growth of a new person, entangled and intertwined in the fate of those who form it. All stages require constant visitation and revalidation; a change in one stage can begin to weaken the elements above and below it.



As human beings grow and develop, they pass through multiple stages of development. Perhaps the most familiar framework is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. A person typically develops needs in one level before moving onto the next.

Another useful framework is to observe the development of the seven chakras: root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third-eye, and crown. These breakdown the development to the needs of: survival, sexuality, power, love, communication, intuition, and finally, cognition.

Upon recognizing a potential soulmate, the path to building a relationship follows a similar path to the one that we use to build ourselves. Two complete, whole individuals can climb the Tree of Life together – symbiotically assisting each other along the way. The insights that gleaned through this process indicate signs of the “stage” of the relationship, opportunities for growth, and symptoms of struggle. In this way, a relationship is treated like the growth of a new person, entangled and intertwined in the fate of those who form it. All stages require constant visitation and revalidation; a change in one stage can begin to weaken the elements above and below it.


Stage One: Survival


“The Right to Be Here”

This stage is perhaps most characterized with uncertainty and a need for stability. When a relationship is beginning, it is common for at least one partner to seek definition, “What are we, exactly?” Stage one is characterized with discussions of status. Born from a position of vulnerability, a relationship can only form when the partners feel equally safe to exist. Without the sense of definition or commitment, without a position of safety to be oneself, it is difficult for a relationship to accelerate. Once the terms are laid out in a space where the partners feel safe to be themselves, a relationship is then given the space to blossom on its full course.

Without a formal process laid for the goals and path of the relationship, it is difficult for a relationship to survive past Stage Four. Just as a tree is blown away by the wind, so too is a relationship tossed aside at the first major turbulence when the foundation of the relationship’s survival is not rooted in a strong, mutual understanding of the relationship’s direction. When the future directions change for soul mates, and their soul-connection becomes uncertain, the remaining stages crumble under the strain of two vines growing in different directions.

Successful passage through this stage involves asserting the future direction of the relationship:

Establish a foundation for how the relationship will grow toward a common purpose.

Stage Two: Sexuality


“The Right to Feel”


Perhaps the most sensational characteristic of a relationship, sexuality, is erroneously regarded as the most or least important aspect of a bond. As a relationship develops, it is natural for gratification to become a focus of growth. Stage two is characterized with great satisfaction being given to both partners on a physical and emotional plane. Gratification can bring great pleasure with it. Placed external to the relationship, it can also bring guilt and pain.

As an individual, development of self-gratification is important to knowing that one has the ‘right to feel’. In a relationship, this right to feel is for all members – this means that both giver and receiver has the ‘right to feel’, placing the importance of pleasure-reception on both ends of the process. Many relationships falter when one individual becomes more focused on receiving pleasure from his/her partner, or when one becomes more focused on giving pleasure to his/her partner. Without harmony and balance, resentment, fear, uncertainty, jealousy or guilt could all emerge to drive a wedge between the partners. The leaves must nurture the roots as much as the roots nurture the leaves.

Successful passage through the second stage involves the mutual nurturance of each partner:

Balance the pleasure of the other with the pleasure of the self.


Stage Three: Power



“The Right to Act”


Among the most debated of topics within a relationship, the third stage is characterized with discussion and negotiation, particularly when it comes to making decisions which affect the new relationship. While developing as a person, self-assertion by practicing the individual will and ego is essential to forming identity. As a relationship, a new identity emerges – this identity is distinct from the egos which form it – yet it is also entangled with its originators. How far can one partner separate him/herself from the other? Over time, confidence and pride in the relationship is natural – even leading to a source of strength as the partners inevitably compare the strength of their bond to the partnerships they observe.

While some may see their role in the relationship as ‘leader’ and others as ‘follower’, it is perhaps better to think of each as a ‘dancer’ – collaborating with each other as they weave new movements through life. Neither is leader nor follower; yet, they are simultaneously both. They form a new unit – a new identity – when they are able to designate their roles, and each partner in the relationship feels the right to act freely as an individual, while the relationship itself also feels free to act. Stifling the growth of a fellow vine by reaching for the sun on its own will only force its mate to become choked or seek a separate path of growth. Unlike the ego of the self, that thrives independent of input, a relationship’s ego is only as strong as it is nurtured – without fuel from all contributors, it cannot grow.

Successful passage through the third stage involves a mutual independence and interdependence on each partner:

Coordinate the acts of the self with the acts of the other in the great Cosmic Dance.


Stage Four: Love


“The Right to Love”


The great aphrodisiac, Love, has continued to elude precise definition due to its very personal nature. If following folklore and faerie tales, the ultimate goal of a romantic story is the culmination, admittance, and acceptance of love by the soul mates. This stage is characterized by great feelings of elation – termed the ‘honeymoon’ stage or reported feelings of ‘butterflies’ – feeling accepted by one who is admired and respected can be the greatest feeling. Losing it can also feel like the worst.

Being placed at the center of the journey, love is responsible for holding the ascending current – the connection of the lower needs to the higher –as much as it is responsible for tethering the higher needs to the lower. Without love, the right to act, feel and exist can never reach full maturation in their expressions of creativity, intuition and enlightenment. Without love, synergistic creativity, intuitive knowing and spiritual connection will wither.

Often confused with like, love is more about acceptance than it is about enjoyment. This is how one can simultaneously hate and love someone at the same time. Many relationships get trapped in this phase when partners feel different about their levels of acceptance. If the focus is being liked, it can feel as though someone is interested, even while they undermine who the person actually is. Acceptance, true acceptance, is about loving people as they are, not as we wish them to be, or wished they were. Love is a present emotion, not one that originates from the past nor toward the future. It is this struggle – of where each partner places his/her love – that plagues the fourth stage. When one vine wishes that its partner were a different tree, resentment, bitterness, and constant pruning may follow as one partner attempts to ‘sculpt’ the partner he/she is seeking. The struggle results in either partner becoming ‘sculpted’ or moving to another tree to grow.

This stage is successfully navigated through a consistent reminder of presence:

Accept the self and the other as they are, in the present moment.

Stage Five: Communication



“The Right to Express”


As a relationship rounds the plateau of the fourth stage, the relationship begins to show signs of expression. Expression may come in the form of mutual communication with one another, but it culminates in the expression of the partnership to the world. This stage is characterized by creation. As the partners learn the strengths and needs of each other, they can begin to synergize their efforts – creating more than either could on their own. Creativity can take many forms – a business venture, artistic endeavour, or as significant as creating a whole new being in the form of a child. Regardless of the outcome, a relationship’s natural byproduct, when operating as a new unit, is creation.

Creativity is not rooted in magic. It is the result of deliberation, perspiration, commitment, and opportunity. Often a relationship fails to express itself as the byproduct of mutual contribution – expressing the ideas of only one partner, rather than the eruption of new ideas from combined input. It is important, even vital, that each member experiences self-expression, able to create freely for him/herself. Often, relationships are treated only as a crutch, as a source of strength to lean on, that in turn limits the growth of the one lending strength. When one vine takes the resources of another, its own growth becomes limited, and its ability to support in turn becomes limited. Under duress, a vine either withers or is replaced by a stronger vine, only to repeat the process. When the exchange is mutual – the vines not only support each other, they are able to form entirely new plants!

Success through the stage of expression comes from a mutual commitment to fulfillment:

Harmonize the voices of each partner to form a new melody.


Stage Six: Intuition



“The Right to Perceive”


Often cited as a symptom of strength in romance, this stage is characterized by shared instincts, insights and dreams. Partners can finish each other’s sentences. Entire conversations can be had without words. Partners are able to read each other’s minds, know what their companion is thinking, and increasingly are able to make decisions as one unit. The “third eye” of the individual can stretch to encompass that of the partner, providing additional insights. These instincts become the foundation of collaboration – providing an edge for the relationship to better function as a team than ever before.

While these insights can be used for the benefit of the relationship, they also can be used for the benefit of an individual. Intuition is strengthened through continual practice, reflection, and refinement. Once a partnership reaches the level of instinct – either through a strong soul-twin connection, or through the establishment of a strong soul-mate – it nears the apex of its power. The freedom of safety, gratification, will, love and expression all combine to bear new fruit from these vines. When one vine consumes the fruit of intuition – using it for the gain of the self, rather than the gain of the whole – only one vine will thrive, while the other starves.

Success through the stage involves investment in the new dreams:

Invest energy, instincts and insights to feed new dreams.


Stage Seven: Cognition



“The Right to Know”

On the path to the Great Quest, the journey of spiritual fulfillment can be further expressed through the mutual journey of spiritual enlightenment. This stage is characterized by a deep sense of connection, purpose, and fulfillment. Having a strong foundation in the preceding stages can result in an ultimate expression of spiritual fulfillment. A partner who knows him/herself and knows the other, can be a support when necessary, a push when needed, and a witness throughout. The journey of connecting with the cosmos, in however it is expressed by each individual, is enhanced by the nurturance of another who is just as invested. When harmony of spirit is achieved, obstacles become stepping stones toward greater heights. Tapping into a common root system, these vines can now grow together – sharing all resources to reach heights greater than either could individually.

All too often, partners seek duplication – a replication of the individual beliefs to form a new collective. This is the enemy of the seventh stage. Attached to ideologies, many relationships either become more entrenched in their views, or completely separate – unable to operate under two different regimes.

Spiritual connection presents the most difficult challenge: detachment. Truly knowing one another involves abandoning preconceived notions to create the space for the other to be as he/she is. It requires the partners to let go of the illusions of difference and separation. It involves trusting a partner on his/her individual, spiritual journey, and offering support – reaching out to form a connection, rather than seeking out reasons to remain disconnected. It necessitates remaining strong in personal beliefs, while simultaneously supporting the beliefs of another, that may differ. Symbiosis is only possible when partners cease to think of what they are receiving from the relationship, and instead turn their attention to what they can provide. Rooted in a common ground, attached through mutual acceptance, two vines on seemingly separate journeys can grow together up the tree of life, basking in the enlightenment at the top of three.

Success through this stage is achieved through detachment, through a focus on process, not product. This journey is eternal as both individuals and relationships are in constant flux:

Abandon the product and embrace the process of knowing one another.


Connecting Through the Stages


When we meet people, we will invariably become connected to one or more strands – sometimes instantaneously. Just as threads in a rope, each thread serves its purpose to the overall strength of the bond.

What makes this process confusing to many is dependent on how connected an individual is to any one thread – particularly if this thread is a need for the individual. The more powerfully an individual feels they need a single thread, the more likely they may sacrifice connection through other stages to maintain its growth. This is why it is so vital that an individual be full and complete with his/her self before exploring the formation of a relationship.

When exploring attraction, connection to progressively higher stages can create the illusion of full connection. Generally, the higher the stage, the stronger the connection created. For example, finding someone with whom one feels “love” can feel much more powerful than a connection one feels from only “survival”. This can confuse the person into thinking he/she has found his/her ‘one’, based on this single connection. While it may begin that way, without the healthy development of all remaining stages, ultimate growth cannot be achieved. Perhaps the most challenging single connection lies in the last stage of cognition. Meeting someone with whom you feel resonant on the spiritual plane can create a powerful connection – but without the foundation of the remaining six, this connection cannot fully express itself. For example, while a relationship may be fulfilled spiritually, without creative expression or gratification, its promise of potential can leave partners feeling dissatisfied, as though something is missing.

These seven stages each form a thread – a thread in the rope that binds the partners to each other. With only one thread remaining, a rope cannot hope to hold the same load as one with all seven. Indeed, the presence of all can mobilize more than the sum of their parts. No one feeling, commitment, ceremony, promise, or event can maintain the connection that is needed to survive a lifetime. Regardless of where your relationship vines begin, or where they are now, constant vigilance, nurturance, and patience is needed to strengthen the bond that holds a relationship together through this journey up the tree of life.


Commenti


Hi,
I'm Leah

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. I’m a great place for you to tell a story and let your users know a little more about you.

Post Archive 

Tags

No tags yet.
bottom of page