The Relationship Venn Diagram

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The Relationship Venn Diagram

by Stephen Laddin
Relationships Self-Awareness Heartbreak Love

When I was in college, I had an intimate relationship with a foreign exchange professor that lasted several months. Of the many lessons my time with “Jane” provided, there was one lesson that was so impactful, I still live by it to this day. What was this lesson you ask?

It was the discovery of the simple ingredients needed for any successful relationship. As I reflect back on the experience with Jane, I’m reminded of several conclusions she helped me arrive at and how applicable they are to today’s dating world.

Despite what advice columns and other sources may try to sell you, the key to a healthy, successful relationship is quite simple. In order to demonstrate the aforementioned simplicity, I’ve created The Relationship Venn Diagram. It’s easy to understand and is a useful tool when thinking about issues in any relationship, romantic or otherwise:

Take a moment and look a the Relationship Venn Diagram. Take in and absorb its simplicity. The keys to relationship health and longevity really are this basic. Let’s break them down:

  1. YOU: In the first circle, we have “you.” You are an individual, with your own likes and dislikes, your own quirks, positive qualities and room for improvement. 
  2. HIM/HER: This your significant other / lover / friend / spouse / etc. He/She is the same in her individuality and also has his/her own specific needs and wants.
  3. THE TEAM: The “we” in the relationship. This is the combination of two individuals.

So, Steve, you may say - what’s so easy and basic about knowing the ins and outs of my spouse? The challenge isn’t in the knowing, it’s in maintaining the balance between yourself, the other person and the “we” - the relationship. The relationship, like each of us, is a living breathing organism that needs fuel to survive.

The root of most issues in relationships can be traced back to some sort of imbalance. The Relationship Venn Diagram will help you identify imbalances and will show you where to apply your energy in order to correct them.

Examples of imbalances are: giving too much, not giving enough, receiving too much, not receiving enough. What is being given and received? Time, energy, physical closeness, emotions, love. The elements and ingredients to a healthy relationship must be shared in balance. Otherwise, problems arise. Using the Relationship Venn Diagram, you can easily identify if your relationship falls into any of the “trouble zone” categories:


This imbalance occurs when one partner over-gives of him/herself. Regardless of the motivating factors, over-giving - in any form - throws off the balance of the self and the other, whereby more energy than necessary is being spent on someone else and it’s now having a negative impact on the self.

Symptoms include:

-Sacrificing things you enjoy for the other person, without reciprocation

-Rearranging your life for another person, without reciprocation

-Neglecting yourself for someone else

The figure below represents over-giving/over-receiving. The remedy is to reclaim your own life by taking care of yourself and your needs, which will bring you closer to the balanced Relationship Venn Diagram shown in the first example.

GIVING TOO LITTLE, RECEIVING TOO LITTLE: When not enough time is spent on your partner/your relationship, it also causes an imbalance:

The remedy is thus to put more time and energy into your significant other and the relationship in general to help it flourish.

Hopefully the Relationship Venn Diagram will come in handy when you think about how to improve your current relationship, and/or will help you establish a strong foundation for your relationships to come.


Stephen is a Los Angeles based writer/producer.