In long term relationships there are four distinct phases.
- The romantic phase
- The disappointment phase
- The power struggle phase
- The friendship phase
In the romantic phase we are on a trip. The happy hormones “zonk” us into that floating feeling of being in love. We just know we have met our soul mate and we can live on water and love alone. This is nature’s way of capturing us into a relationship and we should enjoy it. Like Anthony Hopkins said in Meet Joe Black – “You haven’t lived if you haven’t loved”
Then comes the disappointment phase. Here the hormones start to wear of and we start seeing our partner as they really are. He doesn’t pick up his socks and she doesn’t turn the toothpaste cap back on. Most relationships end here. We had our kicks and now it is time to move on.
But, when we decide to stay, the third phase comes out to play. The power struggle phase The phase were marriages usually end in the divorce court if not managed right. In this phase we try and change our partner to what we want them to be. We want them to fit in, into our expectations. They have to make us happy. If they love us, they will change – or so we lie to ourselves.
The truth is nobody wants to be changed. People don’t mind change as long as they are doing the changing and change is not done too them.
If we want to keep the relationship. If the other person is significant enough for us to stay. Then we need to make the choice to step into the fourth phase. The friendship phase.
In the friendship phase we accept our partner with their good and their bad. We allow them to be who they are in our space. And most of all, we start to change ourselves. We allow our partners to become a mirror in whom we see ourselves for who we really are. And with their grace, we start changing ourselves. We focus on being the best friend we can be. We start to realize that the biggest gift we can give is to be our self. The one that our partner initially fell in love with. Then we start the hard work of changing into being the best we can be. To really live, because we really love – ourselves and our partners.
So, are you phasing in or phasing out?
Still phasing in