The four pillars of a good relationship + a dodgy number five

four pillars of a good relationship

The first time around I chose the wrong man. I didn’t know it at the time because I was young and believed things about relationships that turned out to be untrue. In hindsight, I can see why my husband and I were never going to work.

An intimate relationship with another person rests on four essential pillars ~ intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical.


Intellectual compatibility is a mixture of both similarities and differences. You probably want to be with someone who is as intelligent as you or perhaps smarter. It’s no necessarily a case of what degree he has or his grade point average, sometimes life experience can make someone street smart, or their job means they know a hell of a lot about something you’ve never heard of.

My boyfriend is a smart man. He has had a good private school education and knows about classical literature and astronomy. He has more emotional experience than I have and encourages me how to express my feelings without fearing a bad reaction. He tells me I know more about human behaviour and non-materialism than he does.

One of my favourite things is lying in bed on Saturday mornings and talking to him about anything and everything.


The emotional level of the relationship must be equal. You should like or love each other roughly the same amount. If someone is totally besotted with you and you sort of like them a bit then obviously the relationship is doomed. My boyfriend and I seem to love each other equally – as far as I can tell.


Personal values are important and when these are challenged or dismissed by your partner, the relationship will struggle. Although I have heard of Christians and Atheists making their marriages work, I don’t know that would work for me.

My boyfriend and I share similar philosophical and religious sensibilities (mostly just trying to figure shit out). We share a common view of what is acceptable human behaviour and what is not. If there is a place where things get blurry, we are happy to discuss the alternatives together.


Sexual chemistry is the fourth pillar. In my short dating career I met men who were right in the other areas but I didn’t want to jump their bones. Physical attraction cannot be prescribed by height, weight, age or ethnicity. It is an elusive certain something that only shows up when you meet in person.

My boyfriend is sexy, even way past the time when experts say the honeymoon glow should be fading. I could go on and on …

This also relates to your level of sex drive. If your boyfriend is insatiable and you’re a once a month girl, things might not work out. And the reverse is also true. If he keeps knocking you back because he’s too tired, there will be trouble. Choose a man who wants you as as much and as often as you want him.

Some of you have asked how to find a man on internet dating sites. My advice is to address all the four pillars of a relationship in your profile. How smart does he need to be, what kind of emotional involvement do you want, what are your spiritual beliefs and how important is physical intimacy to you?

The fifth pillar

Because my boyfriend can’t help but add his input to every advice model I come up with, there’s his fifth pillar — humour. If you don’t find the same things funny and you don’t find each other funny then you need to move on. Life is too short and relationships too complex to not have any laughter in your world.

And in this instance, it appears my boyfriend might be right.

four pillars of a good relationship T

How does your relationship measure up to this model? Did you get it right the first time or are you in a second relationship?

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About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing

16 thoughts on “The four pillars of a good relationship + a dodgy number five

  1. You really hit the bulls eye with your list! For my experienced, I do find that humor is what I find important in a relationship.. I don’t know, I guess life as you said it, is short.. So why not enjoy each day with laughter..

  2. Certainly didn’t get it right the first, second, third, etc etc etc time!! I had a shocking time in my 20’s trying to get it right with relationships!!! I love these pillars and was nodding in every one of them as they perfectly described my beautiful relationship with my hubby xxxx

    1. Hi Ferny
      Your husband sounds wonderful. It’s worth working out what we don’t want so we can recognise the right one when he comes along.

  3. Hi Katie,
    I’ve been reading your story and admiring you for your courage and bravery. There’s too much value here and emotion for just one sitting so I’ll just keep coming back for a visit.
    I’m happy for you that you’ve finally found your happiness and hope that you continue to do so.
    I’ve been in many relationships and sad to say I didn’t get it right. I don’t know if I’m still going to get it right but right now I’m happy where I am being a single mom but if ever I still meet someone I’ll keep these pillars in my mind especially the fifth dodgy one.
    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Hi Katie..
    Great article… I have ALMOST had it right a few times now..
    Your four pillars are spot on but BF is right..his fifth is an absolute necessity…. for any healthy relationship. I have never felt love for anyone that I haven’t been able to laugh is a biggie for me. Absolute necessity.

    I plan on keeping these four pillars in mind.. 🙂

    1. Hi Roma — thanks for your comment. It seems a lot of us have made mistakes in the past, but there is hope that the next time you’ll get it right. Good luck!

  5. There is more sense in this article than that given out by ‘qualified experts’ whatever THEY are! Life experience counts for so much and you have clearly got your head around this one. Brilliant.

    I was lucky enough (or maybe astute enough?) by the age of 45 to find a partner with whom I was able to build on all five of these with great ease. After two failed marriages and one long-term live-in partner, this marriage is sheer bliss. Ironically, we are great friends with my former live-in partner. Just because you don’t have all five pillars does not mean you have to give up on the pillars that did work well.

    Thanks for another interesting read Katie. Love your writing.

  6. Katie, Wonderful post. Yes, we so often make bad decisions when we are young and have no idea what a relationship is even supposed to be like. Thanks for sharing these insights. Your BF sounds like a great match.

  7. I have also been writing about this lately and have a few thoughts – my buckets are emotional, behavioural, intellectual, and physical. But as a very high sex drive woman, I do not recommend saying it in a dating profile. I’ve done so in the past, even just hinting it, and it results in most men focussing entirely on that (never mind I’m an accomplished executive, a Mom, a multifaceted individual). So I make a vague reference to wanting a passionate person and then suss it out offline if they meet my other criteria.
    I’ve written about my “dating rules” which haven’t let me down yet in weeding out those who may not be compatible. Attitudes and opinions may be easier to figure out early but whether people are on the same emotional and behavioural level can sometimes take longer!


  8. You are so right and your boyfriend adding is perfect. Any different is a red flag and we should be able to point them out. It is so comforting knowing there are other women in the same situation as me. We are very loving and unique women. Let s keep Faith and our energy levels high!

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