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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Relationship Stages

An interesting view, that relationships have stages. Regarding the few intimate relationships I've had, would say the stages are:

  • 1. Who is this person? What might we do together as a team?
  • 2. Wow, this is wonderful. I'll do anything for her/him.
  • 3. Wait a minute. Is what I'm doing to demonstrate love working how it's intended? Maybe this needs a bit of investigation and adjustment so the demonstrations I contribute to create love in the relationship goes where there are intended. In return, what I allow them to do for me also constructively floats my boat.
  • 4. Trades, offerings and tacit agreements evolve and are enjoyed.
  • 5. A way to update these agreements becomes necessary. Whether agreements are made tacitly, verbally, as trades or as "standing" agreements - is everyone on the same page about what the agreement is? Who does what for whom and who gets to wait for their desires/needs to be met, and how long do they wait? Does the "waitee" ever get what it is they want/need? Can agreements-customs be changed or updated as various member's needs change? For instance, if one of the members of the relationship gets injured and needs care to heal from the other(s), can the relationship be flexible enough to provide that care and later re-establish independence after healing without breaking apart?
  • 6. Over time, everyone's challenges, shortcomings, strengths and/or style or preferences become familiar. Can each member accept the person's intent to do their best in bettering their character flaws, or accept these flaws? How to support and/or encourage improvement of personal character development and learning? How does each member "help" one another? Do the agreements that have evolved merely adjust and compensate for shortcomings? Or is there a recognition of a process that improvement is also evolving? Can personal change be accommodated? The answers to these questions makes or breaks the relationship.
  • 7. If a "break" is happening, character flaws are assigned the role of punishment. It would be so nicer for ME if the person improved - they must not love me enough to improve themselves and make it easier on both of us. Mountain out of molehill sensitivity develops, noting the most minuscule expression of these character flaws in spite of ongoing improvement. The relationship must end; the pressure of having someone so invested in your shortcomings or successes is too pressurized.
  • 7. a. From my own experience, the way out of this is to re-prioritize the constant recognition of the objectionable behavior(s.) Make a specific time to express objections all at once, (without defense is best) instead of constantly having uncontrolled emotional reactions come up all the time. Meanwhile, constructively rebuild the relationship based on enjoyable, bonded experiences so the enjoyment of being together is renewed.
  • 7. b. Of course, if you work this out, you can start new projects together. If you don't navigate this stage very well, the two of you part ways, with various clean-up work ahead. Or you get so damaged that making further agreements are impaired,  but you keep going anyway.
  • 8. I've heard after twenty years together, the partners change places in what their shortcomings have become. The shortcomings and complaints each used to have about the other swings in the opposite direction...sort of hilarious!
  • 9. But by now, there's been some track record of getting past difficult times and hopefully, communication skills have increased well enough to continue indefinitely. Unless significant lifestyle changes intervene that make a liaison no longer practical or preferable for various reasons...