The four Cs model of relationships

The 3Cs model of relationships was originally presented by Harry Boyd. Over time the 3Cs of relationships – Compatibility, caring and closeness – has been criticised because it leaves out the Adult to Adult communications. This is a reasonable criticism and is a clear flaw in this model. Others have suggested a 4Cs of relationships model – Compatibility, caring, closeness and communication. The Adult is included in the communication section.

Four Cs Jpeg

If two people are compatible at least to some degree in their Parent ego state values that is a good start for a relationship and one reason why cross cultural marriages can be difficult at times. The four most common areas where couples present for counselling with a problem in their different values is money, sex, child rearing and in-laws. An interesting list that says a lot about human priorities in life.

If two people can at times be caring and considerate of the other party that is a very good thing in a long term friendship (marriage). Random acts of kindness, unsolicited, can generate so much good will.

Probably most important of all is the Free Child to Free Child contact. Two people who like each other, enjoy each others company and want to spend time together because its fun for them is a very good thing to have in a long term relationship.

Adult to Adult communication in marriage

The ability of the couple to put any feelings aside and communicate in an intellectual logical way.

To react to emotional situations objectively

To accept criticism without problem feelings developing

To face difficult or unpleasant situations

To keep the Child ego state emotions in check such that it does not excessively disrupt the communication


These are generally seen as the criteria of emotional maturity.

If a couple can communicate like this, that is a very good thing for a marriage. They can have logical problem solving discussions between them. Some just cannot do this as the old feelings in the Child ego state get in the way and stop the mature Adult to Adult communications.


To develop such emotional maturity one needs to learn how to drop a feeling, as we say in psychotherapy. This is a good skill to have, both for one’s relationships and for their own general psychological wellbeing. It is of such usefulness that it should be taught in schools!!

What is dropping a feeling? Well it is that, you let the feeling go. It is not resolved by discussion with another person or by some cathartic release, one simply drops the feeling. There can be discussion and catharsis but these do not actually let the feeling go. That is primarily a cognitive exercise that the individual does with self.

It is the opposite of carrying a grudge. Usually over time it gets easier to drop a feeling. The person has the emotional maturity for the angst or problem feeling to be let go from the Child ego state such that it no longer has any influence in the persons own psyche and their relating to others. As I said before this is a very useful skill to have and any long term marriage or friendship cannot remain of a good quality unless both parties are capable of doing this at least to some degree.

Revenge, or wanting justice to be done, or to have my day in court, or for things to be made fair are all wishes and desires that reduce one’s ability to drop a feeling. To be able to let go of what one perceives as transgressions against them, by another, is a very good skill to have. If done the two parties are much more able to have good problem solving discussions and planning which of course are crucial to any successful ongoing relationship.

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