March 29th at 10 AM PT/ 7 PM CET

Intimate couples becoming 2nd tier explorers



Who’s in the room matters when a group of seekers is attempting to open up into a collective experience many evolutionary thinkers have found. This we-space becomes much more challenging for an intimate couple than it is for non-lovers for many reasons.

For example, each person in an intimate partnership is very familiar with partner behavior originating from lower centers of gravity. These inconsistencies frequently erode feelings of trust if not viewed from a developmental perspective. Furthermore, the capacity to compartmentalize less than perfect experiences, an established rhythm between connection and separation, tolerance for exposure, transparency, and more, are all necessary to creating stable intimate 2nd tier we-space.

This presentation will translate the lessons learned from the collective experience into specific recommendations for the intimate couple.


 RESCHEDULED RECORDING AFTER THE LIVE BROADCAST of August 11th , 2017  (interrupted for tech problems)

00:00 Introductions and mechanics

02:53 First question for Tom.  Why is reaching  “we space” more difficult for intimate couples than for others?Tom explains that couples carry so much “baggage” that it’s actually harder to get past it into a “higher” state than for others with whom there is no history. This is true even for “integral” couples with their complicated relationships.

06:50 “Thinking” integral isn’t enough, and often not necessary

08:49 Great Rumi quote

09:30 Lower right is slow to develop, we often have an upper left bias

10:10 The Couples Line of Development chart: Tom introduces the levels

1 – Safety and attraction

2 – Roles

3 – Relational

4 – First Love  

5 – Spiritual

13:00 How to get from Relational to First Love.  Heidi wants clarification. Tom explains the persistence of earlier stages even at the relational level (where therapy typically stops!)

15:54 The goal is to develop the intimate we space .  See chart: resonance and shared feeling. Tom gives directions and examples…and Heidi throws a curve.

19:00 Eye gazing! Leads to a resonating feeling (May takes months of practice!)

22:00 Resonance can extend beyond the couple to others not present then or there (non local awareness)

23:00 It gets easier to enter the we space and is sought out, is easy to initiate

25:00 Some impediments for some couples, stability is required

26:50 Not limited neither temporally nor geographically, no need to be together, power places

31:00 (box) Staying in First Love seems not to be permanent, most time is spent in Relational. Persistence of even lower stages.

33:50 States and Stages chart: collective states parallel individual ones but tend to eventually predominate.  Tom gives an example (Helen Palmer) and leads us up the serpentine chart.

39:30 Heidi gives personal testimony of this serpentine nature. Maybe a SPIRAL?

41:45 Preparing for the exercise. (See chart for the couples themselves) a quick aside to current politics which may apply to couples – and vice versa.  Heidi explains.

47:07 Be careful with item 4! Possible jealousy if one’s partner enters a we space with someone other than the partner. 2 examples from Tom’s experience.

50:50 Tom’s paper in 2016 Journal of Integral Theory and Practice. At a high level, fidelity can become a problem because it’s easy to really love others.  Keith Witt’s “confession to Jeff Salzman that he “falls in love with all (his) patients.”  It will get complicated!

53:14 New chart: Skills and Couples Stage: at Roles stage, unfinished individual issues arise rather than relationship issues. Emotional discipline required! Also merger can be confused with communion. You need an ego before you can dissolve it!  Where does that couples line break down?

58:05 Mark asks about the “amalgamation” of the lower left and lower right

1:01:00 Material for another podcast! Continuing with the chart: the wound as an entry point. The lower expression can be exploited by politicians , etc.

1:06:00 Moving up the chart to First Love, in contrast to the reactive stages, a rational way to deal with problems leading possibly to a unity experience

1:09:38 Jumping to the ownership of projection, how to question if it’s present or not. Tom claims that in the BEST relationships, the rate of projection is 50% and everyone else approaches 100% projection! Our own history with this.

1:13:30 the subtle stages these projections re-appear as later on so we can read deeper and deeper now that the lower right structures are in place.

1:15:30 Plans for the next Integral European Experience, wish lists. Lower right work

1.16:50 How to reach Tom: Last words, thank you’s, goodbye’s

Click on the content boxes below to view or download the documents shown during the conversation

I enjoyed the video. You are right on with the trajectory of the process. I do agree that it’s never a steady straight line and spiraling is continuous as life changes.  I imagine individuals can have deep baggage that hinders the ability to have endurance/confidence/emotional ability to take part. Do you interview perspective couples to avoid such issues? I can see creating positive results among a general population. For me myself; I attain some of the “higher level”; much of what you say, owning, accepting, moving on, but my learning comes more in the form of faith. So the avenue is the same (maybe) but the approach differs. Just my thoughts:)

Ann McPartland, Worcester, Massachusetts

I really enjoyed the video.  The theory resonated with me.  I thought the methodology you used in the examples were grounded and practical. The transitions of the relationships and evolution were very easy to understand and well illustrated in the theory.Thanks you for sharing!  Your mission is admirable and I see life changing for so many …the difference you make in the lives of others is amazing!


Dr. Mary Fortunato, Holden, Massachusetts
 Tom, great content, nicely working the developmental edge of couple’s intimacy. Yes, as any of us open into the dynamics of First Love, and esp Spiritual Love, with its higher, more authentic, transparent, and expansive capacities for love (approaching, even entering, Christ’s love), our own intimate relationship with our partner (and other people as well, including with our own self) can become complicated, even strained, as these newer, higher, expressions of intimacy/openness show up in us. I think that’s normal at least until we learn to have the dynamics of the lower right quadrant processes for First Love equally arise in the other three quads of our life and relationships (i.e., our dualistic mind tends to keep the four quads of any occasion separated out, particularly preferring a one-quad-only perspective over the other three). That, and, as importantly, the individual has to raise their mindset workings sufficiently into 2nd tier consciousness, get their center of gravity of perspective up there, so their First Love expression won’t unwittingly occur as 1st tier lusts and such (some nasty pre/trans dynamics playing out). It’s all part of our evolution of/as consciousness, developing capabilities that authentically express this higher capacity of awareness/consciousness. And as Mark said about that, “Bigger and better problems” will show up since our movement up the these developmental/evolutional stages opens us up into greater, more complex expressions of capacity and capability (developed capacity). Regarding merger anxiety and the ego, I’d suggest that we all don’t develop the ego—which is important to our mental health and functionality in life—simply to later get rid of it, get beyond it. I’d say we can evolve our ego, our sense-of-self, into higher stages and states of perspective. Even in a communal state, the healthy 2nd tier person still has a sense of self (ego). It just becomes more evolved, matured, authentic, expanded, and inclusive (even of our shadow, and of doing shadow work) as we evolve it/ourselves. It’s the unhealthy early-stage expressions of ego that we want to get past, not the ego (sense of self) per sé. Our ego continues to serve a healthy purpose throughout our vertical growth, at least in my experience. I esp like the last several minutes of the video where all three of you become more transparent and vulnerable in the conversation with this work in your own lives; nice walking the talk, esp for Heidi and Mark in realtime. So many more areas I’d love to jump in in this conversation, but wanting to keep it short here.
Larry Kiehl, Your Content Goes Here


Mark and I met Tom Habib during the last Integral European Conference (May 2016) in Hungary. We gave a presentation in the sam section and in those times I was excited with video taping. So I taped his presentation and uploaded it to Youtube – and lo and behold, it attracted many people. So Tom became interested in presenting his work on video which we happily did together inside our series “Conversations that matter” of The Wisdom Factory.

In consequence we had several encounters, one also with Martin Ucik, another integralist working with love and relationships who had been part of our “Stop the RelationshiT” series before.

On this page you find the presentation as recording and the previous live-streamed 30 minutes which, being live, might give you a slightly different flavour than the recording. Enjoy!


Tom Habib is a clinical psychologist in San Juan Capistrano, CA specializing in couple’s therapy. He is also an organizer for San Diego Integral where he is experimenting with creating a container from which collective moments can be sustained. See Focused Integral Group Discussions.Tom has published papers on a Couple’s Line of Development (ILR, Aug-Nov, 2016) and on the role of Regression and LR Supporting Structures   (JITP, Dec. 2014) He has presented at the Integral Theory Conference in 2015 and at the Integral European Conference in 2016    where he was recognized for the Best Practitioner Paper, Honorable Mention



If These Walls Could Talk: A Therapist Reveals Stories of Change and How They will Work for You

Dr Thomas Habibs book on AMAZON

A couples line of development

Academic paper by Dr. Tom Habib

INTIMATE COUPLES Regression and Lower-Right Supporting Structures

Academic paper by Dr. Tom Habib

Watch the excerpts or the full conversation below

Also available as AUDIO PODCAST HERE