The Stages Of Romantic Relationships
My High School Sweetheart and I were so close people called us, “TonyandBetty.” A friend of mine describes his marriage as, “A Luscious and Juicy, Embarrassingly Intimate, To Die For, Like *Sigh*, Relationship!” My brother is on a 26 year honeymoon. He’s still head-over-heels in love with his wife. Those two smile at each other like they each think they got the better of that deal!
Who doesn’t want to be in a relationship like that? How do you get that lucky? What’s the secret? Allow me to introduce you to the 5 Stages of Romance: Attraction, Doubt, Choice, Intimacy and Freedom.
Each Stage must be mastered in order to experience Romance the way you’ve been dreaming of.
First is Attraction.
That’s pretty obvious, yes? Maybe you’re attracted because of the way they walk or the way they talk or.….. whatever. The thing here is to never take attraction for granted. Don’t ever stop flirting or whatever you did to get your partner in the first place no matter how old you get or how long you’ve been together. There’s lots of competition vying for the attention of a quality partner so don’t sleep on this Stage.
It never ends.
The next Stage is Doubt.
Interestingly, when we first have someone’s full attention, we’re happy. After a while though, we begin to wonder if things are too good to be true. We look for issues: breaks of integrity, disagreements, unfulfilled expectations or anything that will validate our concerns.
What we don’t realize is what we’re really doing: subconsciously looking to see if our newfound partner is really interested in us because we don’t want to care for someone more than they care for us. We start looking for Deal Breakers, Red Flags, Inconsistencies, etc. The reason we do this is because we hate to be conned and we hate to feel trapped or stupid. So we question everything about our new partner.
This is perfectly normal.
If you resist this Stage you’ll never know if the person you’re with really wants to be with you and vice versa. You have to go through this Stage and you must also master it.
The reason you must master it is because when the going gets tough, you’ll have the emotional strength and clarity to not let it destroy the relationship. This part takes serious work but if you feel your partner is worth it, don’t avoid this Stage because you’ll get stronger each time something happens to make you doubt.
The third Stage is Choice.
In this Stage, you and your partner have enough credibility with each other to truly CHOOSE to be with each other, or not.
Originally, the Attraction chose for you; you probably felt compelled to be with each other. The second Stage could have ended the relationship before the best that’s yet to come ever had a chance to come. You’ve been together and got to know each other. Not necessarily enough to get married, but certainly enough to want to be with each other because being with each other is better than not being with each other.
Also, when you each choose, you can begin looking forward to a richer relationship in the same way that you look forward to a great vacation. Only this one can last much, much longer.
However, you’re not quite there yet.
The Fourth Stage is Intimacy.
In some circles, intimacy is pronounced IN-TO-ME-SEE.
In this Stage, the joy and power that emanates from the relationship comes from the practice of revealing oneself fully to another. Being vulnerable with someone who’s safe to be with is one of the most loving experiences anyone can have. Allowing the one you love the space to be who they really are with your full permission is the gift of a lifetime.
In this Stage, you get to be bigger, larger and more powerful than you may ever be without your partner. It’s the ultimate validation. When you give them that gift, they will be forever in your debt and they’ll be happy to let you know it.
Stage Five is Freedom.
This is, in this society and at the current level of consciousness Humanity mostly displays, is a truly rare, beautiful, and yet scary place to be.
Freedom, in this case, means giving your partner full permission to do whatever they want without repercussions. In fact, it’s even deeper than that; applauding their choices because you’re more committed to their happiness than you are to them trying to make you happy. Their happiness is one of your highest priorities in life.
The reason it’s such a challenging Stage is because you’d have to know that no one can make anyone happy. This means they can’t make you happy and you can’t make them happy. What you can do is share your happiness with each other. This removes any room for manipulation, power struggles, selling yourself out and almost every relationship dysfunction possible.
In the beginning of your relationship, these Stages unfold one at a time. However, as the relationship matures, you’re likely to be in multiple Stages at any time. Notice what Stage you’re in and ask yourself if you’re giving your best to bring out the best of that Stage for the benefit of the relationship and your partner.
As challenging as that is, it’s also your greatest opportunity to experience the romance you crave.
After all, that is what you really want, isn’t it?