The Inevitable Stages of Relationships

I just attended a teleclass given by Terry Real where he described the three stages of a relationship as :

  1. IN LOVE also known as Love without Knowledge – That ‘in love’ feeling that can only come without the knowledge of those aspects of the person that leaves sweetener packets on the counter, sometimes drinks too much or is frugal at the wrong times. This infatuation feeling that many seek can rise to the level of being described as a ‘love addiction’ as Pia Mellody termed. We want a ‘fix’! It feels so good when someone misses all our flaws.
  1. Disillusionment or Love with Knowledge – This is the stage where most come into therapy. Usually after 5 – 10 years it begins to settle in that this person we have committed to is not what we thought and we want him to either change or we want out. Bolstered by our feelings of entitlement – to a better matched partner – we struggle to reconcile the benefits of staying versus the pain of starting over. If a love interest beacons with Stage 1 hormones it’s difficult to resist and impulsive ones take a leap out and into something else – a relationship that will most likely end up in similar dissatisfaction enhanced by any complications of his and her kids.
  1. A Knowing Love – This is where long term relationships that do last, end up. One way to look at it is that age and inertia has beat us into submission or acceptance of our partner. A better way to frame it is that , with perspective and self responsibility, we know each other’s imperfection and love them regardless.   Terry talks about grieving the needs we have that won’t be met (as if they all ever could, anywhere). That enough of my needs are met to make remaining in the relationship worth my while. This has to come with responsibility for making the choice – no victims allowed!!

So what does this mean for those searching for that soul mate, that person who completes us? Recognizing the stages of relationship that are inevitable can help us turn within to ask – why am I not complete? Is completion anything that someone outside us can accomplish?

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