Part 3 – Relationship Stages
I am going to suggest that there are 7 distinct stages that can be navigated when creating and developing relationships.
However, there are some stages that some people or organisations may skip over that can prove costly when looking to create long term healthy relationships.
This video will go through the stages as most people work their way through them. In this summary, I will go through the stages in order, to keep it simple.
Stage 1 – Preparation
This is one of the stages that most people either pay little attention to or completely skip.
There can be a lot of ground work done here. In my experience, we all have some blind spots, some baggage that can get in the way, some things we can get triggered on that can get in the way of our relationships.
There is some personal exploration, personal awareness and personal development that we can do to move toward becoming the person we need to be for the relationship we are looking to have.
The second area is to also get very clear what sort of relationship that we want rather than an ideal person. I am going to suggest that one of the most critical components of a relationship is an agreement that both people will work on the relationship and be willing to change.
Stage 2 – Exploration
This is where the majority of people start when looking for a new partner ( or new job). This stage is like window shopping. Looking about to see what the options are and what looks good.
Here there is no commitment and no exclusivity. All the options are kept open. On the dating scene, someone could be talking to a number of people especially if they are on an online dating site.
Stage 3 – Dating.
Having found someone where there is some sort of mutual attraction, both people are essentially saying that we are starting to date to get to know each other better. For one or both people it has moved to where there is still no commitment and now there is exclusivity.
It is a good idea to deactivate the online dating profiles, as I have know many ‘couples’ where one partner has checked up to find the other partner’s profile still active. This generally brings up some trust issues.
Stage 4 – Vision and Values
Here is another stage that generally gets missed in terms of relationships.
I am going to suggest that before a couple starts dating, they each had their own vision of where they would like their life to be headed. This, in my experience is often very loosely defined. They also have their values that they live by. These are the things that are important to them. So we generally have two people with different individual visions and values. Then there is the vision and the values for the relationship, which each person may assume they are on the same page.
Most people are in a honeymoon phase when they are dating and such things as looking to the future in any detail are often overlooked because the honeymoon phase is a lot of fun and intoxicating.
The reason I mention this stage now is because the next stage in a relationship is commitment. This is where the couple ideally are committing to spend the rest of their life together in a loving relationship.
Stage 5 – Commitment
There are a number of potential sub stages to Commitment. The first is some sort of mutual feeling that this is the person I want to share my life with. This is then verbalised and if a formal path is followed, an engagement is announced. Then the ultimate commitment – getting married. This is where the deal is signed sealed and delivered.
Note I have use the words ‘getting married’ here. I will share with you my definition of marriage later.
For a lot of people getting married appears to be the outcome and possibly the start of a family. As a general observation, when I have talked to a lot of people, most people who get married spend more time and money on the wedding than they do planning the rest of their life.
This is one of the reasons that Stage 4 – Vision and Values is so important. As this enables people to have a clear picture where as individuals they are headed and where their relationship is headed. Differences in simple things like the number of children, or what retirement is going to look like, how finances are managed, to name a few, have ended relationships that were supposed to last a lifetime.
Stage 6 – Intimacy
By intimacy I do not mean sex or making love. That can be a part of it. By intimacy I mean, “In to me I see” and “In to you I see”. Like in the wonderful scene in the movie Avatar when Neytiri said to Jake “I see you”.
This is where partners are able to feel safe sharing the innermost thoughts and feelings because of the levels of respect, trust and support.
Stage 7 – Marriage.
The definition of marriage that I like is: ‘A marriage is the outcome of a good relationship”. It is the outcome of both people working at the relationship to support each other and make the relationship the best that it can ever be. The common thread of all great long term loving relationships is that both people work on the relationship almost on a daily basis. It became a habit to work on the relationship.
When people skip stages, it usually catches up with them at some stage. The great news is that, with some willingness, help and work the missed stages can be worked on to achieve true Intimacy and a Marriage as the outcome of a good/great relationship.