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May 31, 2017
by Henry M. Pittman, MA

The Developmental Model of Relationships

May 31, 2017 04:00 by Henry M. Pittman, MA  [About the Author]

Human beings are social creatures. Human beings have a need to connect with each other. That’s the reason that many times humans are known as social creatures or social animals. A reason for connection with others is for procreation. In order for procreation to take place, two humans go through a process of dating. Dating can be defined as the process of finding a mate for life. There are many dating sites on the internet. Other dating modalities can be in newspapers or magazines such as a chat line or hiring a personal dating service to meet people in person.

Regardless of the methodology, two people meet up for a date. During the date, both individuals are engaging with each other to get a vibe of possible compatibility. Some dates go good and some dates go bad. In the case of Brandon Vezmar (Karimi, 2017) he is suing his date in the amount of $17.31 which is the cost he spent on them at the movies. According to Karimi (2017), Brandon Vezmar was offended when he observed his date texting 15 to 20 times during the movie within 20 minutes ruining the film experience for him and other movie goers. Brandon has cited that texting is a pet peeve of his (Karimi, 2017). Initial dates are simply a platform that one can use to get to know someone, and sometimes their pet peeves. In order to get to know someone or acquire information from someone effective communication can be key.

The Developmental Model of Relationships.

Terence T. Gorski is an international expert on the dynamic of substance abuse disorders and the treatment and prevention of substance use disorders. He wrote a book titled, ‘Addictive Relationships: Why Love Goes Wrong in Recovery.’ Gorski shares his thoughts on how relationships are to develop in a healthy manner instead of an unhealthy or addictive manner. He provides details of the differences. The author received permission to use elements of his work which was granted on March 2015. The author along with material from Gorki’s book created The Developmental Model of Relationships.

The model presents that there are 5 types of relationships and that each one has their own unique dynamic and growth. Acquaintance Relationship, Companionship Relationship, Friendship Relationship, Romantic Relationship, and Functional Unit Relationship. Each relationship model has it’s own unique dynamic and can connect to another relationship model, however not automatically. For example, Acquaintance Relationship doesn’t automatically connect to the development of a Companionship Relationship. An Acquaintance Relationship has its own areas of growth and once that relationship growth is completed, the option to connect to a Companionship Relationship and began cultivating that relationship is possible, yet not guaranteed.

Acquaintance Relationship

The Acquaintance Relationship is the initial type of relationship that can foster and connect other relationship models. Usually, individuals enter this type of relationship via attraction and curiosity. The attraction can be physical, emotional, mental, social, or spiritual. As one may decide to explore this attraction this leads curiosity about the other individual. Hopefully, both parties are curious to know each other versus only one party being curious.

Acquaintance Relationship in Depth

Baker (2013) presented on his website a tool that can be used to assess one’s life satisfaction in eight domains of life. The eight domains are Business/Career, Finances, Health, Family & Friends, Romance, Personal Growth, Fun & Recreation, & Physical Environment. These domains are not in any particular order as they are displayed on a circular wheel. Given the depth of these domains when it comes to getting to know someone this is where curiosity starts and explore these areas on a first or initial encounter. Below are some example questions.

Business /Career– When meeting someone for the first time via dating site online or in person, a question that is general and non-threating is about one’s job, career or business. Ask the individual what do they do for a living? What attracted him or her to that position, job, career? What have you learned about your job, career or business that you didn’t know when you started that if you knew it would be a game changer in the here and now?

Finances– Now, this arena can be sensitive to some individuals and an open book to others. When asking about finances we are not asking about what an individual has in his or her wallet or what’s is in one’s bank account. We are asking about belief or thoughts about how one goes by managing money. There nothing wrong with sharing one’s thought about an article or something one heard on the news and bring it up in discussion. For example, “I hear that stocks are increasing, what do you think about stock or having a financial profile? How would you know when you are financial set?”

Health– This is a generally safe arena, granted a person is not sensitive about their weight. If that vibe in picked it up, this a great time to utilized empathy and move on to another topic. Once again, it’s not about picking apart somebody’s weight. It’s generally such as your favorite foods or the health trends or what junk food do you like. Then based on what a person’s sees, a positive affirmation is in order as evident by the fit shape or move on to another topic.

Family & Friends– Who doesn’t have family and/or friends. Most everybody does. Now, asking if a person has a relationship with their family or friends is a different arena. An inquiry approach that is good in this arena is simple to ask, “If your friends or family would describe you what would they say? Or “How come you and your friend are still friends all these years?”

Romance– People get excited when this discussion comes up or become really hesitate. The hesitation comes from not wanting to talk about past relationship in the midst of possibly developing a new one. Transparency says a lot. Recommendations are not to tell details of what happened, just a brief overview if you are talking about a previous relationship. However, this is a good time to generally ask about what romance to the other person and joke about when romance went wrong in one’s own personal life. For example, “I went to open a bottle of champagne and I brought sparkling grape instead.”

Personal Growth– The area is about individual growth, strengths, and weakness. There’s nothing like being transparent and sharing some areas of growth or being curious about another person’s area of personal growth. Just like careers, one can inquire about what the advancement in your job, career or business impacted your sense of self or contributed to you personally.

Fun & Recreation– What does one do for fun? This is a simple and fun exploration of a person and sharing about self in regard to things that one may find fun. There are many activities to do and explore the reason behind how one finds them so entertaining. For example, a person may find gardening fun, “What is it about putting your hands in the dirt you find fun?

Physical Environment– This area can be tricky. Physical environment is simply about the physical environment. What is around a person. How do they feel or respond in groups, crowds, large events, small events, strangers approaching them and talking as if they know them, or nobody in the room is making eye contact? That is what physical environment inquiry is about.


Everybody is looking for acceptance. Acceptance is simply acknowledging what a person does and what a person doesn’t do. Acceptance is not about approval. They are two different things. If a date is texting in a movie theater, it is what is. If that behavior bothers you so, then a second encounter is not for you. For somebody, else texting in a movie is a short period is not a problem. Yet, better create a dialogue about it and see where it goes. Don’t be quick to judge. Simply learn to be curious and see things for what they are, not good, not bad, just is.

Baker, B.(2013). Wheel of Life- Self Assessment Tool. Retrieved from
Gorski, T.T. (1993). Addictive Relationships: Why Love Goes Wrong in Recovery. Independence, MO. Herald Publishing House/Independence Press.
Karimi, F. (2017). Texas man sues date for texting during 'Guardians of the Galaxy' movie. Retrieved from

About the Author

Henry M. Pittman Henry M. Pittman, MA

Henry M. Pittman came into the field of counseling through substance use disorders in the fall of 1997. He was a substance abuse tech at a hospital in Houston, TX and what he saw motivated him to take all the counseling hours needed to become a substance abuse counselor in 1998. Since then he has pursed the required education and knowledge to become a master level counselor and therapist.

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Phone: 800-419-2568
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