"Where There are Friends, There is Wealth"
- Plautas (3rd century)
“Behind every complaint is a wish for one of the five A’s”
-David Richo, How To Be An Adult In Relationships, p.33
We all crave something in relationships. This is why you are reading this blog. This is why you have sought out relationships of every kind for your entire life. We are innately social creatures, constantly seeking something from others, and giving that something back to others in the process we call relating. We’ve seen it in the movies, romance novels, success stories, and the like. We seek it subconsciously every day, but how do you describe it? What is it, exactly? The closest I’ve come to understanding what “it” is came when I learned the 5 A’s of relationships.
In my quest to learn about relationships, why my first marriage failed, and how to identify and create healthy relationships moving forward, I came across some invaluable lessons. The 5 A’s from David Richo’s book cited above was one such gem.
The 5 A’s of relating:
When we came into this world, we were cared for by someone who gave us, to greater or lesser degrees, these five important A’s. How we experienced them affected every cell of our body and it was programmed into us what these things felt like. In fact, if we did not experience them correctly, due to neglect or absence of healthy relating, we would develop what is known in the adoption world as attachment disorder which affects a person’s ability to connect and relate with others for life. Thus, these qualities are vital for our development at our most basic level. I believe we were also born innately knowing what these keys to living really feel like, even if we didn’t get them perfectly from our parents. One way you might think of God is that He is the perfect source of all these character and life shaping qualities.
Naturally, my kids seek these from me. To the degree to which I give them these 5 A’s, I am being a loving and nurturing father. My wife seeks these from me and I seek them from her. The degree to which we give these to each other determines the level of health and safety and what we might sense as how much love is flowing in the relationship. To a lesser degree my friends and acquaintances seek these too and I try my best to give them also.
When you think about how we are wired as social creatures, we have enormous power to do good in this world by giving these 5 A’s to those around us! This is the stuff that our souls yearn for. To give these 5 A’s is like giving someone’s parched soul a drink of refreshing water. And it can be very simple to do.
What the 5 A’s feel like:
Each of these gifts, when given with no strings attached or from an expectation of something in return are amazingly powerful. Imagine what it feels like to receive these 5 A’s. For example:
How to practice the 5 A’s:
This all sounds lovely, but we aren’t in the Garden of Eden anymore. What about when we are frustrated and not receiving the A’s as much as we would like?
There are two solutions I would like to propose, which changed my life and will change yours. First, as trite and pinterest-perfect as it may sound, the saying holds true: If you want love, you have to give it away! I call this the boomerang effect. If you want friendship, you have to learn to extend yourself as a friend to others. If you want intimate love, you have to risk vulnerability and show romantic affection to your partner. If you want a dating relationship, you need to learn the skills of attraction and put yourself out there to find some possible dates.
The second solution I propose is a bit tougher, but more practical. As an adult, you have to learn to generate the 5 A’s within and for yourself.
“In healthy adult relationships we do not seek more than 25% nurturance from a partner; we learn to find the rest within ourselves.” -Richo, p. 22.
In fact, it is difficult if not impossible to give them to others before you learn how to give them to yourself. Because if you do not first get these figured out and stand on your own two feet as an emotional adult, then what you try to give to others will undoubtedly have strings attached because of your desperate need. This is obvious to most people and can be a reason why your advances and bids for connection get rejected (see article here). You likely don’t realize that you have strings attached, but the other person sees them clearly and says, “no thanks.”
Here are some practical suggestions for finding these within yourself:
This is all part of the internal work that needs to be done to develop positive relationship skills and help you build your relational wealth. Look for the 5 A’s in your relationships. Notice people requesting them from you and be generous with giving them. Pay attention to the way you are requesting them from others, and learn to fulfill much of them for yourself. In this way, you will be a more enjoyable person to be around; one who has gifts to give others as you go through life together.
Get a Free Ebook!
Subscribe here to download your copy:
Joel is a husband, father, musician, and lover of life; especially life that is shared with the wealth of amazing friends and family he is blessed to have near.