Many people come to counseling to talk about their relationship with a significant other. Humans are emotionally messy so that makes our relationships messy. It includes all of us too. Some relationships are healthier than other pairings but every couple struggles with at least one chronic area of their togetherness.

The level of relational mess is highly determined by what type of relationship the couple has created. Couple’s fall into either A, V or H formations of relating to one another.

An A type relationship is where the two partners are enmeshed with one another. If one was to stop with this behavior, the other one would fall to the ground. Just like in an A shape, the two tall lines represent the people and the line across is their connection. Being in an A relationship might feel good in the beginning because it appears that the couple are very connected and enjoy one another’s company. But with time, this dependency becomes unhealthy and emotional manipulation is usually the common under-current of an A relationship. People in these types of connections live in fear and dread of losing the relationship because they have overly invested themselves and typically have failed to grow the other areas of their lives.  The leaning on one another is not healthy bonding but something entirely different.

Couple’s in a V shaped relationship have pulled apart so much that there are little to no connections left within the coupleness. These are couples that live with one another but truly function as roommates at a heart level.  People in a V relationship are in what many therapists term as a non-romantic marriage/relationship. The connecting part at the bottom of the V is all that symbolically holds the couple together and the individuals are no longer best friends; if friends at all. There is a lot of distance between the partners in a V relationship.

The H shaped relationship is what an ideal relationship would represent. It symbolizes two individuals who through their own free-will choose to be together. There isn’t the clinging and dependency of the A relationship nor the distance and coldness of a V. The H couple typically respect one another, understand that their partner can not be their whole outlet of human connections and support one another in creating and maintaining their individual identity.

Often couples have partners where one is functioning as one letter, while the other is a different letter. For example, a partner who is creating an A relationship might have a significant other who is trying to pull away from the suffocation and in doing so, will become a V in the relationship. Sometimes an individual desires to be a H, but his/her love interest is too enmeshed (A) or too distant (V) for the healthy H to flourish.

If you find yourself recognizing your relationship as either an A or V, don’t lose heart because there are things that a couple can do to help get to the better option of the H. We have to figure out the root of why people are internally driven to create an A or V relationship and fix those things that cause an imbalance in the couple’s connection.