In your relationships, do you relate as a parent, baby or partner?

When it comes to relationships, it may be a good idea to ask yourself the following questions. When you did you last meet your partner as an adult? When did you not do that?

We can relate to each other in many ways that are then the basis for how we express ourselves and communicate with each other. One way to look at relationships is to use something called Transaction Analysis Model. Behind this somewhat scientific name we find a model to describe the emotional aspects of an interaction between two people. The name comes from one seeing the meeting as a transaction, an exchange.


In our way of functioning we assume one of three ego-states. These are:




In relationships we can illustrate these three ego-states as three circles:

Transactional Analysis Ego-States

When we have a conversation with someone we always come from one of these ego-states. However, these states may vary depending on the situation and our own feelings and needs. Let us examine the three ego-states a little closer.

Parent ego-state

This ego-state consists of feelings, thoughts and actions we have taken over from our parents or parent figures in our childhood. It distinguishes between two types of Parents, Nurturing Parents (NP) and the Controlling Parent (CP).

In our relationships when we communicate from our Caring Parent, we can for example express the need to care for, protect, help or nurture. However, when we come from our Controlling Parent we can express criticism, set limits and bans.

Filippa: Sometimes I think that I know best what my partner needs and do not hesitate a second to tell him. It could be anything from talking about how he intends to park the car, cook food, and how he should behave .

In these cases it is more important for me to be right than to be happy, I'm telling him rather than listening to what he wants. I focus on a short-term gratification instead of building trust and respect.

Adult ego-state

This ego-state is described as a collection of independent thoughts, feelings and actions directed at the current reality. In my adult ego-state I act based on my situation as it is here and now. Without the influence of residue from my own past as in the other two ego-states. Effective feedback is part of this ego-state. This is where I meet my partner, with total honesty and authenticity. We have a mutual exchange of emotions.

Illustration of a close relationship

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