This is Episode 6 of the Get Psyched with Ayan Vlog Series.
Whenever I have started dating a new person, the world would instantly become a better place. I will have a skip in my step, half a smile on my face throughout the day and my new lover could do no wrong. She would be awesome in every way and those glaring red flags in our compatibility would be nothing more than cute, little quirks and things that we can easily get over, ‘cos it feels so damn good to be together.
How many of you have felt these wonderful feelings about someone, only to realize, 6 months down the line how incompatible you both are? I have felt this a good many times and there is no shame in admitting that. Does it mean that my initial euphoria was invalid or wrong? I don’t think so. That is where knowing the 3 stages of love relationships can help you know where you are in your relationship, where it is heading and how to prepare for what’s coming. So let’s get started.
Stage 1 – Codependency – The Honeymoon
This is the initial stage of infatuation, where vows of undying love are proclaimed. I call it the Honeymoon stage.
The features of this stage – Lasts for the first 3-6 months of the relationship. The connection feels really intense, giddy and pleasurable. We are showing our best selves and we are willfully ignoring or minimizing our partner’s faults. Many “relationship experts” mock and devalue this stage and say that it is just an illusion, a cocktail of powerful chemicals pumping through our system and making us feel this way and that we need to get done with this phase as soon as possible.
I disagree with that notion, as to do some other eminent relationship gurus. If we use this stage well, then it helps us build a strong foundation of affection, respect and positive regard for our partner, despite our differences. It makes us bond over shared interests and gives the relationship strength to weather the storm that is coming in the second stage.
How to hack this stage – Utilize this positive period in the relationship to be vulnerable with your partner, by slowly sharing with him/her your weaknesses. Read books together on improving communication skills, try to learn how to speak each other’s love languages. Create a system for resolving conflict, even if you are not really having any major conflicts. Learn how to identify and reciprocate when your partner is using a repair attempt to diffuse a confrontation. Learn how to confront better and be less critical or passive aggressive with each other. This is the best time in the relationship to do this work and to prepare for the next stage. I have provided links to some resources in the description of this video to help you get started on this front.
Stage 2 – Counterdependency – The Power Struggle
When we enter a relationship, we are often attract to those who have qualities that we admire, but do not possess or have repressed within us. For example the highly organized and methodical business executive falling in love with a free-spirit, go with the flow artist. They add value to each other and initially try to complete each other. But as they enter the 2nd stage in their relationship, they start hating the qualities that drew them to each other in the first place. The business executive finds her lack of focus and organization to be very annoying and destabilizing, while she finds him to be too stuck up in his ways and suffocating.
Features of this stage – Starts after 6 months to a year into the relationship. Conflicts over differences, minor and major, each partner tries to claim dominance over the other in various aspects of their relationship, negotiations and compromises. Most relationships break at this stage and if they do survive this stage, then the next stage depends on how they have exited this stage.
How to hack this stage – If you have put in the work from the previous stage, then you already have a system in place to recognize conflict areas, solve them amicably or learn how to live with the differences. How you listen and respond, rather than react to each other is key to this stage. Win-win compromises and learning to accept each other’s influence goes a long way.
How you exit this stage would determine how the next stage looks. It could go down two paths –
Stage 3A – Interdependency – Happily Ever After
In this stage, the power struggle conflicts have subsided and you have created a system where power in the relationship is shared equitably. Both partners have recognized what is lacking within them that they are trying to receive from the other person. They have taken steps to develop those qualities within themselves, rather than completely depending on the other person. They have learnt how to depend on each other in a healthy way and lovingly request their needs be met. The relationship is low on criticism and contempt and high on affection, mutual respect and camaraderie.
Stage 3B – Independency – Parallel Lives
Many long-term marriages end up in this stage after the power struggle phase. In this stage the couple has learnt to live with their differences but have lost that sense of togetherness. They live their own separate lives under one roof and might be held together in partnership due to external factors, such as children and other shared investments. This stage is fertile ground for extra-marital affairs, as both partners have drifted away from each other emotionally and are looking for emotional support outside of the relationship.
To avoid this stage, it is very important to maintain that overall sense of togetherness and affection as we fight, compromise and negotiate our way through the power struggle phase.
Which stage are you in your relationship? How are you hacking that stage and preparing for the Power Struggle phase? I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to comment and share the wisdom. Also please subscribe to my Youtube channel and my website for more videos and articles of this kind.
Books to Improve your Relationship Game (which have helped me)