Due to my insanely love-addicted 20’s following my first big love, I read every book and searched high and low for answers about love, healing after it’s lost, and how to make love last.
At the end of the day, the solutions are borderline boring, but they are real. If relationships have consistently ended leaving you feeling empty, or you feel you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling in your current relationship, then read on.
Sharpen your mental saw so you can experience a fulfilling romantic relationship on the foundation of truth and personal responsibility rather than on the whims of hormones and emotions or the myths and misunderstandings of love songs.
Love songs and romantic movies have done relationships a huge disservice. As has the porn industry for sex.
If you want an amazing relationship, steer clear of cliches in popular culture.
In this article I will cover some basic, normal and natural phases in love relationships. By seeing them, you can then make some clear empowered choices rather than feel helpless to make love work or last in your life.
1 The Bonding stage of the Honeymoon Phase
“No you say goodbye…no YOU…no you.” Sound familiar?
In Bruce Lipton’s book, ‘The Honeymoon Effect’, he explores how we can create this effervescent, giggles and smiles phase of a relationship to extend longer by mimicking how our own cells live in our body – thriving in community and constantly in communication.
“Human beings are not meant to live alone. There is a fundamental biological imperative that propels you and every organism on this planet to be in a community, to be in relationship with other organisms.”
― Bruce H. Lipton, The Honeymoon Effect: The Science of Creating Heaven on Earth
People want to stay here, in this lovey-dovey place, without bringing some solid foundations into the picture, but it’s very irrational. The bonding phase is meant to do just that bond. And then you want to grow together as unique individuals and also grow the relationship as well.
When you smoosh all that love together and naively try to keep the bonding phase alive for longer than is natural, it kinda implodes and suffocates the life out of everything. Embrace it while it lasts, and then look to how you can create some of that inner giggle and bubbly energy for yourself without needing another person there to feel it. This will enhance your relationship immensely and keep you happier and less needy or dependant, which allows your partner the permission and freedom to thrive as well. Enjoy the honeymoon phase while it’s there, but don’t try to grasp onto it or mistake its fading into a more mature phase as a failure in the relationship.
2 The Power Struggle
“That’s MY greek yogurt in the fridge…. Can you just put your shoes away?!… But we saw an action movie last time….. Why can’t we watch a movie I like?”
In order avoid losing ourselves in another person or the relationship, both people will try to define their boundaries and find balance within their relationship. They are seeking how to maintain their individuality while also wanting to merge with another person’s life. This is the phase when people will date for a while, and suddenly realize they might be genuinely incompatible companions.
The beginning stages are so fun and exciting, the “real-world” rarely comes into the equation. It’s the high of the bonding phase that keeps people attracted. Once it becomes too hard, and there are too many compromises to stay together, most people will choose to let go.
On the other hand, some people will do a great job being open, transparent, clear, curious and accepting while learning about another person’s iduiosynchrasies.
What relationships truly do, is reveal your relationship to yourself.
If you are controlling, lacking trust, unable to verbalize your needs or preferences, jealous therefor insecure, scared of intimacy or vulnerability…ALL of it will come up.
Isn’t that great!
Your relationship can make you a better person altogether if you resist blaming and feeling like a victim, and decide instead to see where you can learn about yourself through your relationship with another.
It is not about 2 becoming 1, it is about 2 enhancing one another.
Another great book for this is Harville Hendrix, “Getting the Love You Want”
3 The Commitment
“Let’s do this!”
You make the decision to move in together or get married. You want to live life together in a partnership. Life is better together, than apart. You aren’t going to have one foot in and one foot out anymore. All In.
The moving-in-day, or wedding day or whichever commitment ceremony a couple partakes in is only 1 day.
Each day needs to be a renewed commitment, or inevitably the relationship will fade.
It’s like a house plant that can wither if ignored and neglected.
Commitment means catching the first couple days, weeks, and months when you began drifting apart in the first place.
Commitment means a lot of communication.
Communication is not taught in schools and very rarely modelled well by parents or other family members.
Quick tip: Never assume or expect someone to read your mind!
“You should know.” Is one of the worst toxic concepts in a relationship.
It is arrogant and immature to assume someone else should know what you need. Eliminate this phrase from your relationship, ok?
My relationship in my 20’s was great, but we let it die slowly from sheer lack of skills, knowledge and maturity. I was consistently interested in self-development because I felt I was broken and needed to fix myself, which surprisingly evolved into me finding my truth and not needing outside sources to feel fulfilled – but that’s for another time.
We need to decide what we want. Then decide again, but no willy-nilly people! You can’t do that and expect big, amazing love.
Big amazing love is not the passion and fireworks. Big love can have that too of course, but “passion” is not the foundation. It’s the quiet moments. It’s knowing someone is on your team and will not leave you. Knowing you can call and share an amazing moment or a challenging one, it’s not being alone on this amazing journey called life.
Is it wrong to be single? Gosh no! I am single right now, and have been for 2 years. Is it from lack of options, or that I am somehow repulsive? No. It is because I know what partnership feels like and will be open to it when it’s truly a match. Dating is more than having another human fill the space where loneliness lives in your life. It is the process of finding a true companion to experience this amazing world with. Having a witness to share and explore and expand life’s moments. A relationship is never meant to fill holes of incompleteness in your life (Sorry Jerry Maguire).
If you are in a marriage and need a re-boot, first start with you and then work on the relationship. Love doesn’t have to come from another person, we all have access to infinite abounding love, if we get off the idea that we “need” it from someone or something else.
If you want more love in your life – begin with yourself. Once you don’t need it, it will overflow and never leave.
(Next week Part 2: How to Know When to Call it Quits)