The 3 Relationship Roles; Best Friends, Lovers, and Creators

Painting of couple who are best friends sitting on the roof of a car watching the sunset

What are the 3 Relationship Roles?

As we each navigate our lives we live & breathe so many different roles in so many different contexts that it can feel like the United States of Tara in there!

At least it sometimes feels that way for me (Business Owner. Lover. Friend. Partner. Coach. Wife. Dog Mum. Daughter. Sister). It's crucial to be able to define those relationship roles, as well as to weave them together with threads of continuity that are congruent to your sense of self.

In the words of Esther Perel "When you pick a partner, you pick a story - and often you will be recruited for a play you didn't audition for".

I see so many couples attempt to fulfil the relationship roles of Husband, Wife, Partner, Parent... no wonder they lose their way.

There is no formalization in those titles; they are relational signifiers instead of clearly defined roles.

What does it truly mean to BE those roles? How do you DO those roles? The only real criteria is your relationship status. There is no ACTION to it. No articulated AGREEMENT or DELINEATION of tasks.

Relationship Role #1 - Best Friends

There are two girls lying with their heads together and their bodies in opposite directions, they have their hands over each others eyes and are smiling.

Best friends is the element that sustains your love beyond any challenge or change in your lives. Best friends do anything for each other- not just the easy stuff.

I hear people say they would do anything for their partner, but they mean grandiose and dramatic gestures. And then, when they are asked to, they won’t hold hands. Say “I love you”. Or do something FUN. Suddenly "anything" becomes "the limited menu of things that fit into my zone of comfort and according to my current perception of what you currently deserve based on what you are doing for me..." OUCH!

The relationship role of Best Friends is about;

  1. Building Trust
  2. Causing Fun
  3. Contributing Quality

The relationship roles of lovers creators will lead to expression, but no trust without the expectations, communication, and connection of best friends.

Relationship Role #2 - Lovers

There is a couple silhouetted and kissing. The background is tinted red and is a forest.

Lovers brings the real magic of an intimate relationship. It isn't only about intimacy & sexuality, it is about eroticism.

Sexual energy is the energy of creation. It is the energy of life, and of vitality. The erotic energy is that of anticipation, and pleasure, and seduction. This creative & erotic energy is the source of passion in a relationship and in life.

The relationship role of Lovers is about;

  1. Celebrating Difference
  2. Cultivating Desire
  3. Creating Frisson.

The relationship roles of best friends creators will lead to passion, but no spark without the romance, intimacy, and sexuality of lovers.

Relationship Role #3 - Creators

A man and woman holding each other and laughing. They are looking into each others eyes and have paint smeared on their faces.

The third and final relationship role is Creators. This is about team work, and is the key measure of the longevity of your relationship.

A relationship without a purpose will die.

For Jimmy T and I, this is a really big deal. We are very focused on what we want to build together, and what our legacy will be. Why else are we walking this world!? Creators is all about legacy. What is it that we would like for people to say about us 30 years after we’re gone?

If philanthropy isn’t your bag, perhaps your legacy is;

  • the type of adults your children become
  • your pursuit of social justice as an activist
  • a  business you build together,
  • a scientific discovery you make
  • a peaceful happy community
  • a vegetable or flower garden

Whatever it is, it must be something that you both create, love, and nurture together.

The relationship role of Creators is about;

  1. Imagining the Future
  2. Inventing a Model
  3. Igniting your Talent

The relationship roles of best friends lovers leads to creation, but no future without the conception, collaboration and calibration of creators.

Where do we go from here?

Each intimate relationship moves through cycles and stages where different relationship roles are emphasised. Equally, relationships move through cycles and stages where different relationship roles take a back seat. The most important thing is to have awareness of that, and take action.

It can be as simple as bringing more energy, time, and attention to a specific relationship role. You can do that alone, with your partner, or with help.