Maybe you stumbled across this article because you want the perfect relationship. You always get to a certain point, and then the guy just doesn’t understand you anymore.
Maybe you already know that you give up too much of yourself in relationships. It seems natural at first, but you always regret it later. Maybe you’ve loved the girlfriends you’ve had, which is why you’ve always felt guilty going off and doing your own thing.
Any of these sound familiar?
The perfect relationship is like the perfect partner. It (he, she) is not born or manifested. It’s created, built over time and deliberate effort. Every conscious relationship goes through these 5 stages:
1) Self Discovery
The first stage starts long before the relationship begins.
Discovering yourself, or learning to be you, feeds into the other stages in such a way that someone who hasn’t gone through it, isn’t ready to begin a conscious or fulfilled relationship.
This is when a self-aware person will get some exercise, learn those recipes he’s been dying to try, travel to that country he’s always wanted to see (and yes, travel alone). He knows that when and if he gets into a long term relationship, doors will close on those types of opportunities.
Being single is his chance to figure out who he really is and what he really wants. It takes purposeful reflection and consistent consideration.
2) Building Attraction
When he meets a potential partner, the second stage begins. He may be attracted to her right away, or it may take some time.
He flirts, has fun, and tells her little secrets. This stage is all about building physical and emotional attraction to the other person.
One huge mistake he may make here is changing who he is for what he thinks his potential partner will like. This facade will eventually fade away, and when the real person comes back, his partner may feel like he’s “changed”. Or if he’s gone too long without “feeling like himself”, he may feel like he’s lost who he was.
Always be the real you.
The novelty of the other person will quickly dip below the effort it takes to keep that charade going, and the right woman will be attracted to him for who he is.
When Deborah and I were building attraction, she didn’t even seem to care what I thought of her. And that actually made her even more attractive. She was living the life that she wanted to live, because she wanted to live it. I found the real genuine her irresistible.
3) The Relationship Contract
Here’s where you lay down the law.
What do you want out of a relationship? What does your partner want out of a relationship? What can each of you bring to the table, and what are you not willing to compromise?
We judge so much of compatibility on attraction, but this is where you find out if you’re really compatible. Does her vision align with yours? Does he meet the criteria you want in a man?
Because if not, you’ll save yourself from a broken heart if you just move on to the next person now. Every relationship will take some compromise, but no one should be compromising the grand vision of their lives for another person.
If I had told Deborah that my aspiration was to get a tech job in San Francisco, buy a house, and settle into life with a beautiful wife, this stage probably would have been the end of our relationship. Yet, if she and I had met even a year earlier, that might have been exactly what I told her.
People do change over time, but if they feel like they’ve been somehow coerced into it, they come to resent that change. They come to resent their partner.
The relationship contract is the most “skipped over” stage, because it’s terrifying. Building attraction comes naturally, but creating what you want, takes conscious effort and uncomfortable questions.
4) Looking to the Future
When a couple has established that their visions align, they can start making plans to work toward those visions.
A conscious couple will use this opportunity to support each other’s wants and desires, each lifting up the other’s goals, while working together to craft their ideal life: their dreams, relationship rules, and how they’re going to connect on a daily basis, among other things.
5) Happily Ever After
We all know it’s not really happily ever after, right?
Once a couple has made it passed stage 4, they enter fluidity. They’ve made their plans for the rest of their life. They’ve maybe even decided to get married.
And they get to start the whole process over again!
That’s right, they repeat stages 1-4 over and over again, for the rest of their lives. Sound depressing? It’s not!
Stage 1) You get to be an individual. Couples don’t have to do everything together. They don’t even have to like all of the same things.
There’s no stronger way to strengthen your relationship than to strengthen yourself, to try becoming a better person than you already are. Your actions will inspire your SO more than your words ever could.
Stage 2) Real love–the action–is getting to see your long term partner from a distance. He’s never more interesting than when he’s in his element. She’s never more attractive than when she’s doing what she loves with a passion.
Each has never been more attracted to the other than when they’re both supportive of the other’s vision, dreams, and aspirations.
Stage 3) Revisit the relationship contract from time to time. As I mentioned earlier, people change over time, and that’s something to be celebrated, not feared.
Stage 4) Make more long term plans. Just as you’re revisiting the relationship contract, act on your new rules. Be supportive of your partner’s aspirations, and remember that selflessness is an act of love.