edited version reposting again…thanks to Deepti Rupani for her voluntary editing…
What you are about to read is what one of my friends calls “Ruthless Dissection of the Relationship Dynamic”…sometimes little difficult but true”
No matter where you are in this world, you will see that all relationships begin somewhere. Some start with extensive wooing, some on instant attraction felt by both, some start of as friendships and then converge into a serious relationship. In India, some are initiated by your parents and your relatives who are deeply committed to see you married.
And then they all go through 4 phases…Well!! Not all. Some jump out of the ride in between as well. Very few reach the last step.
Phase 1: Uninformed Optimism:
During this phase, you and your partner are in a dream world. For e.g.…”Hey you like Thai food…you know what, even I love Thai”, or “You like movies? What r u saying? Even I like movies”. And so on and so forth. You begin to fall head over heels in love as you come to know every little thing about your partner. During this phase, both take great care about how they look, how they speak to each other, to present the best side. Every day you discover something new. It comes uninformed and worst part is, it is all positive. And there you go, building the visions of eternal togetherness, promising the moon and what not. This phase is time bound. From few weeks to few months it can last.
Phase 2: Uninformed Pessimism:
This is a very interesting phase. This phase typically starts when you are beginning to settle in your relationship (read beginning of taking each other for granted). You are no longer worried about putting on a show or showing the best side. For guys, some old interest recalls and takes you in like an old possessive lover who missed you when you were busy with her. For example the love for Cricket, Football, Mindless TV & Action games on PS 2. And either the guy or girl begins to witness a shift. In India it begins with a phrase “Tumhe lagata nahin ke tum kuch bhool rahe ho/badal rahe ho/chupa rahe ho? etc” (Means…Dear don’t you think you are forgetting something/or changing/ or hiding something). Mostly this question gets a retaliatory response, no matter who asks; often confirming your belief that whatever you thought about your partner is true. This phase starts with small disapprovals and can extend up to night-long fights to weeks of no talking to each other. A funny book says “It all depends on your conflict management style”. In simple words, either you fight like cats and dogs or you fight wearing gloves like US & Russia during cold war time.
Once this happens, depending on the company each keeps, the guy either spends more time with friends and gal wants to “share” what she is going through with all her old friend or deeply “sulk in private”.
This phase again is time bound. But unlike the first phase, this lasts for some months or some years. Some get off the ride during this phase.
Phase 3: Expanded Tolerance (in simple words both learn to Tolerate each other)
I see many marriages or old relationships stuck at this phase. Mostly the most unfortunate excuse of staying together during this phase is things like children, monetary security, society, old parents, siblings etc.
This is the most difficult period for both. Sometimes my heart goes out to them. You can see the bitterness in their eyes and in their being. Not only for their partner.. but sometimes for their own selves and sometime for life as well.
During this phase, communication hits the bottom. Every time the partner does something that you don’t approve of. You just stay calm. The resentment is growing. The suppression of anger is growing.
Unlike the second phase, this phase can expand from months to years and at times decades as well. During this phase, the life in the relationship and the partner is slowly dying a painful death each moment. Many give up during this stage and find their joy somewhere else.
Phase 4: Unconditional Love
After last 8 years of experience of countless relationship coaching sessions, I am beginning to reach a conclusion. Very few reach this stage. Where one day suddenly, you discover that you are willing to accept the other person, the way he/she is. With no need for any desired change in the other. You discover, you are in love and you love. And all this because you “choose to love” (for no reason) and not because he/she is doing or being something that you want them to do or be. You discover compassion. And in this moment, you begin to love yourself as well. In due course of time, the other begins to sense a change and begins to fall in love. (I don’t know how…but I have witnessed it countless times). You discover the joys of valley and the passions of peaks. When this flowering happens, bells ring. They both get bitten by love. But this time the quality of what they feel is very unconditional. They just love.
The world around begins to notice this love. And then the divine joke happens. Other couples see this and want to have it.. Completely unaware of the journey. And then they slip and their first step starts.
The beauty of this step is unlike all above phases. This phase in not time bound. When it begins it ends only when one of them leaves the game of life in this lifetime. Whenever, I witness this, I am inspired that there are few who are willing to and committed to finally discovering the love which always resides in their heart.
P.S : And it doesn’t mean good or bad, if you jump out of the ride. It just means you are jumping out of the ride. And it doesn’t mean you can’t love. Just know that you are choosing to jump and other person is just an excuse.
Because at stage 4 you discover, it was all about you. 😉 The other was incidental.