Moving From Dating to Relationship

As you move into relationship territory as a couple, you’re not really looking around for a mate anymore because you’re feeling as though this person is, “the one.”

Photo credit: couple holding hands silhouette patheos.com

You’ve had talks (at least, you should have because men who have not said they are in a monogamous relationship probably aren’t) about being in a “mutually exclusive” relationship. If one of you is not claiming to be in a relationship, then you are not; you are only dating or, “seeing each other.”

When you move from falling in love to coupling, you’re more likely to go out less and enthusiastically enjoy the simplicity of basking in each other’s presence.

Your couple vernacular includes cute nicknames, and the term, “love you,” is part of your occasional, if not regular, dialogue.

If he or she has an ex-, he or she (the ex) has been alerted that there’s a new SO (significant other) in town.

Public Display of Affection (PDA) is showing up as you’re holding hands in public, sitting “close” together, unashamedly embracing or touching each other and/or locked eye-gazing.

When you’re going to attend an event, you’re likely to assume your new love interest will accompany you. When you’re making plans to go places and do things, this specific object of your affection is the person you would most like to share these experiences with.

You’ve introduced him or her to your friends and family, and it looks like you’re both ready to change your relationship status on your respective social media accounts.

You’re talking more and more about how good it is to be together, even making plans for your future together.

 

And if you’re not having sex, you’ve been at least talking about it, for as Dr. Pete Eaton PhD, author of Sex Wise: Understanding Why Your Wife or Husband Lost Interest in Sex and How to Deal with It, says, “If you are not sexually compatible, you are headed for a train wreck.” According to Eaton, you either have a hunger for sex (measurable on a scale of 1 to 100), or you’re performing sexual acts as, “a favor,” as a means of prolonging the relationship. A mismatch at this juncture could have negative ramifications in regard to the relationship’s longevity.

More and more you are learning to trust your partner, so you’re more likely to ask your partner for assistance, or share intimate details of your life and a variety of personal stories, they type which you might only share with your best friend.

You’re becoming less afraid of showing your negative side as you’re feeling comfortable enough to let your guard down and let some of your idiosyncrasies show through and your partner, who feels similarly, will see these as the silly or cute mannerisms which make you even more special to him or her.

7 Phases of Love

Romantic relationships can the most exhilarating experiences of your life, they can also be very dramatic. If you can make it through the 7 phases of love, you can have the breakthrough bliss of the expanded and evolved couple and share your love with the world.

Phase 1: Falling in Love

The first phase is what gets us into relationships in the first place. It’s that exciting time when this person makes your heart soar and you’re higher than a kite (actually you are because you’re overdosing on love hormones, like dopamine and oxytocin.

In your honeymoon daze, you see all your wants, needs, and desires fulfilled by this person, and you project your dreams upon your love interest, therefore he or she appears to be your dream come true.

Phase 2: Coupling

Following some time of falling in love with someone, the two of you agree that you are somehow meant to be with each other and you go about the business of building a relationship together.

In the coupling phase, you’re getting to know each other better and beginning to see what life would be like as a couple. You begin building real appreciation and a sense of secure bonding is taking place as your relationship moves beyond surface issues and begins to deepen.

Phase 3: Sober Up

One day you wake up and ask yourself, “Who is this?” man or woman whom I’ve aligned myself with? The love hormones are wearing thin, and you’re starting to see him or her as he or she really is, and you think this isn’t the person you fell in love with.

You’ve been together long enough to feel comfortable enough to speak your piece about how your partner is not what you thought he or she was, and your partner returns in kind, as the green grass on the other side of the fence seems so very attractive.

Phase three is the place where most relationships break down, as either one or both parties feel like living life, like this, would be unbearable, though some push-through to the next phase.

Phase 4: Deepening

In phase four, one or both parties feel as though the relationship is worth pursuing, instead of posturing for control or splitting up, they seek to find healthier, more mature ways to look at life shared by two individuals, working thorough problems and disagreements while finding effective solutions without compromising their connection.

This is the make it or break it phase as the partners are more transparent and open with each other, moving forward with increased vulnerability, so things can get a bit messy, but by supporting each other with openness and honesty, sharing and caring, real growth and maturity of each individual can be immense, and the surviving couple thrives as they grow and change both as individuals and as a unified force.

Phase 5: Genuine Bonding

This is when the age-old charge, “the two shall become one,” feels like real romantic love fulfilled. When you’ve reached phase five, your phase one expectations seem silly in comparison, because now you see your unique combination as an expanded entity, an extension of both you and your partner’s lives, with endless opportunities.

If you’ve been resistant to the idea of marriage before, once you’ve reached phase five, you start entertaining the thought of getting married, embracing the idea that you could, and would prefer to, live the rest of your life in a relationship, like this.

Phase 6: Comfort

Phase six is where it gets tricky because you’re comfortable. You’ve made it through phases one through five and living your life with this other person is good, pleasant, and good enough, but left on idle for awhile this comfort can lead to complacency.

Some time has passed and it looks as though you’ve fallen into an endless recurring routine and the relationship has lost its sheen. This is yet another phase where one of the parties might be looking for the exit sign leading to a little more excitement.

Not to worry, all advanced couples reach this stage (it is commonly referred to as the seven-year-itch, though it could come at any time) and you could also seek to rekindle the flame of true love and find yourself headed for the final phase of romantic love.

Phase 7: True and Enduring Love

You have weathered the storms of life in love together and hand-in-hand you have persevered, broken through barriers, shared epiphanies, expanded and ever-evolving as individuals and as a unified force in and for love.

You have established a meaningful relationship in perfect push/pull harmony which is a delicate balance to maintain but it is so worth it. You welcome the challenges, and when things get tough, you are more apt to lean in and trust your partner, who has been there for you as your love has withstood the test of time.

Openness, honesty, and trust are reciprocal and there is no greater sense of safety and security, and others look on with awe.

From this phase of love, the two of you combined can impact the world for the greater good, as your love inspires others, giving them hope as they aspire to build true and enduring love relationships.

The two of you are separately and “as one flesh” living your best life and making the world a better place.

How Do You Know You Love Someone?

Who’s your best friend? If it’s your partner, you’re in love.

How do you know you love someone?

You feel ecstatic as if you took a hit of drugs because, in essence, you have. When you’re in love the same hormones are released just as when you get high on cocaine.

Being in love boosts your immune system making your more resistant to disease and is a natural pain reliever. Less pain and faster recovery from aches and pains. That’s the healing power of love at work.

Increased eye contact indicates you’re in love. It’s as if you’re looking at your partner’s soul and connecting with it, as well as seeing your own reflection in his or her eyes.

Being in love makes you more self-confident, willing to take risks, and try new things with and for your partner, or for the growth and benefit of your relationship together.

When your partner is happy, you are just as happy for your partner. His or her happiness makes you feel happy.

True love can also introduce a degree of stress due to your desire to be the best you can be and to find ways to demonstrate expressions of your love, dependability, trustworthiness, and support, which increases cortisol levels. You’re going to feel a little more anxious and stressful about “doing the right thing” and “being there” for your partner.

When you’re in love, you’re likely to do just about anything for your partner.

You look forward to your shared time together as the best part of your day.

What’s the first thing you think about in the morning? If this happens at night, and whenever something good happens, your partner is the first person you want to tell, and when something bad happens, this is also the person you look to for help, you can thank your brain for releasing phenylethylamine because you’re in love.

If you’re in the habit of putting the needs and priorities of your partner before your own, you’re in love.

When you think about your plans for the future, you see your partner’s participation of predominant importance. You just expect him or her to be there.

Public displays of affection (PDA) are predominant. You’re not afraid to let you love be seen by others.

Your partner’s shortcomings are adorable. Their quirkiness which might seem odd when you’re getting to know someone are those special qualities that endear you, even more, when you’re in love.

Your partner inspires you to be the best version of yourself. You’re interested in personal growth and want to make a contribution in honor of how your partner makes you feel about putting your best foot forward. You want to be and do better.

True love is unconditional. That means you feel like, “I love you no matter what.” No matter what your partner does, whatever challenges you or your partner might face, you love your partner even more. Your love does not waver and is not affected by situations or circumstances.

Love or Crack Cocaine Addiction

When you meet someone, who stimulates your brain chemistry and sends your biology into a euphoric celebration, there is little difference in what happens inside your body between this “falling in love” and getting high on crack cocaine.

This has been well-documented overtime, ever since humans have had the ability to document the intense power of love-longing in poetry, the arts, and philosophical thought. If you have a reverence for such art, including love songs on the radio, you understand that this reverence for the longing for love can be very powerful indeed.

People who are addicted to crack cocaine seek the high state of euphoria associated with using it to set their internal brain chemistry ablaze with a rush of an overwhelming feeling of pleasure, not unlike falling in love.

It is against the law to use crack cocaine, so there it takes a willingness to engage in illegal activity to have the experience at all. A definite deterrent if you have a fear of imprisonment. Also, it is well known that using crack cocaine over time can have serious ill effects on one’s mental health, physiological health, leads to seriously bad decision-making skills, and can ultimately lead to death. The statistics are well-known, prisons, hospitals, and cemeteries are full crack addicts.

Falling in love, on the other hand, is legal, and there are far more people in prisons, hospitals, and cemeteries due to love.

If you question the similarity, try this on for size:

Dr. Helen Fisher, who has had the pleasure of studying the neurological effects of love on the brain and the body discovered the identical brain chemistry overload of dopamine and norepinephrine of subjects deeply in love as those experiencing a high from using cocaine. (Lust, Attraction, Attachment: Biology and Evolution of the Three Primary Emotion Systems for Mating, Reproduction, and Parenting).

Just the same, only different.

Effecting your motivation and decision-making skills is clearly apparent. Whether you’re addicted to crack, or deeply in love, you will do the darndest things which would not make any sense to you if you weren’t under the influence.

When you’re high (on either love or crack) you have an incredible feeling of elation, everything appears to have increased clarity and your self-confidence surges as you feel almost invincible. You’d do almost anything to sustain this feeling.

On the other hand, if the effects of the drug in question (cocaine or love) starts to diminish, the addict looks for new ways to achieve the high they originally felt when first exposed to the original source (which may have varying degrees of success, but it is well known that the height of the original high will never be reached by increasing the dose, method, or frequency).

Still, we have a tendency to look elsewhere, as our resistance builds to the original drug.

There is nothing more devastating to the addict (whether addicted to love or crack) than suddenly not having access to the supply of their high. The withdrawal symptoms of losing one’s supply, having it cut off for any reason, has been routinely associated with the effects of withdrawal from heroin. Which can send the addict into an unimaginable tailspin leading to intense pain and suffering.

To Love Is A Choice

Love is a choice, unlike like a hole you fall into, though sometimes it’s that easy to fall in love. The problem with falling in love so easily is falling out of love can be just as effortless, even if it appears you’d rather not fall out of love. The love vaporizes before your very eyes, as you embark on a new quest to recapture the feeling of love again with someone else.

To love is a choice

Being in love feels good, no doubt about it. You might feel as though the fairy godmother of love has tapped you on the head with her magic love-wand and amidst all the glimmering fanfare you find yourself helplessly enveloped in love’s magical aura. Everything is right with the world and you enjoy all the bliss love has to offer.

As the effects of this hallucinogenic love dispel, you begin to see life and your love through more realistic eyes. How can something so ominously magnificent be so terrifyingly tragic? Last night you slept with a prince (or princess), this morning you woke up with a toad.

It seems like it was just yesterday when love filled the air and you could feel it coursing through your veins with every heartbeat. All you could do is think of your beloved. You wanted to spend every moment together, and when you were apart all you wanted to do was to be together, settling for texts and phone calls until you could see each other again at the next opportunity.

Now, you’re left thinking, “How’d I get myself into this?” or, “What was I thinking?”

It may not have been a magic spell you were under, but today you know, the feeling of being “In love” has flown, and you are left with this. What do you do now?

When all is said and done,

Love is a Choice

You choose to love, and mature love is accompanied by commitment.

You intentionally (consciously or unconsciously) let down your guard and allowed your instincts to succumb to the overflowing flood of Mother Nature’s secret love potion. A powerful hormonal cocktail of testosterone, estrogen, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, with a jolt of oxytocin and vasopressin to seal the deal.

It’s no wonder you’re not thinking straight,
you were stoned out of your mind!

Now, in this moment, on the other side of the intoxicating love-bender, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to walk away, to relaunch your search for true love? Or will you man-up (or woman-up) and move into a committed relationship, the stuff real love is comprised of? The choice is yours.

If you have made the decision to stay and work it out, the emphasis is on the “work.” It takes work to figure out how to manage a life together with two individuals who can be quite different, and if you are separated by gender, you are very different, indeed, for according to John Gray, men and women are from different planets entirely (men are from Mars and women from Venus). It’s no surprise that they speak different languages, and have different rights and customs which need to be managed and accommodated in an effort to have any hope of relationship longevity.

You may choose, if you are man enough (or woman enough) to see the bright side of your partner, his or her life, lifestyle, and outlook on life, as brilliant and charming as you did when you were overcome by love’s magic. Or, you can focus on all his or her shortcomings and flaws, thinking you in all your power and wisdom will be able to change, rescue, or be able to uncover some redeeming value in this (Frankenstein’s monster-style) animated piece of meat.

You can clearly see choosing to love and accept your partner just the way he or she is, is on one end of love’s spectrum, and that trying to change your partner to more your liking, is clearly on the other.

Both take work, though holding onto the hope of being able to change someone to your satisfaction may not be impossible (as in the Pygmalion effect), being totally satisfied with your creation, to recapture your initial love, and to expect reciprocation for all your efforts, is likely just too much to ask for. Even so, this requires enormous effort and more often than not, the anticipated reward is not achieved.

The relationship high road, is to commit to working things out as they arise, which requires an agreement by both parties to allow for a safe, tender, and caring environment where either can share his or her feelings openly and honestly, without threat of ridicule, thereby paving the way for the work necessary to be done. A delicate balance between give-and-take/nature-and-nurture, to achieve a respectable outcome of mature love between two people.

To love is a choice.

Will you choose love? Or look to find your elusive love elsewhere?

There is no right or wrong answer.

What is your choice?

How Do You Know When You’re in Love?

You’ve been seeing this person for a while and things are going well. So well, in fact, that you start to ask yourself, “Am I in love?” If you start asking the question, there’s a good chance you may be falling in love and you start looking for signs you’re in love, but how do you know when you’re in love?

Signs You’re In Love

You think more about them than you think about yourself

If you find yourself going through the day thinking or day dreaming about them and find you are projecting them into your routine when they’re not around, then you might be falling in love. When you love someone, when you’re shopping, you might wonder what he/she might link about what you’re thinking about buying. Little things, like driving by a billboard will make you wonder what he/she might think about that, or passing a cineplex and you find yourself wondering which movie he/she might enjoy seeing with you. If you are finding yourself thinking about them in these little ways (without obsessing), there’s a good chance you are in love.

You’re love lab’s chemistry kicks in

There is no doubt that love is a science project on crack. If you’re in it, the mad scientist inside you is pumping all kinds of chemicals racing through your heart, mind and body, such as dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopresson, creating the same sense of euphoria as taking a hit of cocaine. You really are high on love. You find yourself feeling happier and more confident when you are thinking about this person and find yourself feeling even better when you’re anticipating being in their presence as your chemical sense of attachment increases.

You put up with them, gladly

He or she may not be perfect, but you love them just the same. This is a healthy balance, being able to see their quirks and find them somewhat endearing, instead of putting them down for their flaws. You don’t think they’re perfect, only that he or she is just perfect for you, with all his/her shortcomings. If certain characteristics are less desirable than others, you are able to point them out to each other in a healthy way and help each other refine yourselves as you desire to grow and become better versions of yourself. And those things that make you smile or laugh at yourselves (because they’re so cute) as both of you stumble or find yourselves in awkward situations that could have been handled better, this is more positive than ridiculing or judging your partner and demanding change.

You are growing and changing

When people fall in love, they don’t just adopt the other person’s likes/dislikes. Instead, they each desire to become better versions of themselves as they begin to look at life with the support of their loved one and you begin to change. Your daily routine(s) and habits change noticeably. You find yourself more aware of how you spend your time, and you are finding better ways to maximize the precious moments you have available and are motivated to work on your own shortcomings and developing your individual characteristics. You are more comfortable with life, and are likely to find yourself finding ways to contribute to your community and make the world a better place.

You are more apt to compromise

Not only are you considering the thought of compromise, taking the thoughts and ideals of your loved one into consideration, but you’re not self-sacrificing or falling into martyrdom as you seek to negotiate to arrive at win-win solutions, so that you both get satisfaction from the resulting agreement. Being iin love with someone means you can actually feel good about the process of compromise and arriving at a mutually beneficial conclusion and being fair in your negotiations. One person should never be making all the concessions.

You enjoy celebrating his/her wins

When your lover gets recognized for doing good, or achieves a significant goal, they are excited. You find yourself celebrating equally (or possibly even more) when they accomplish something that even you may not have been able to do so well. This is in contrast to when you see someone else honored or rewarded, which makes you feel competitive or question their worthiness. You have a sense of pride in their success and are proud of their wins, having the same feeling(s) that you might have for your own offspring. It’s as if both of you are sharing the same accolades together.

You share mutual respect

When you’re in love, you love and respect each other, which is definitely a higher calling than just enjoying someone’s company. You are outgrowing the friend zone and are interested in seeing how far this relationship can go. When you have high regard for who they are as a person, you really like them and they are clearly feeling the same way, then you know you’re falling in love.

You miss him/her when he/she is not around

If you are feeling a bit less independent, desiring to spend more time with your lover, missing them while they are away, without going off the deep-end, you might be developing a bond with this particular person. How much you long to be with someone when they are not around might be a way to measure your love for this person as you are developing a committed relationship.

You want your people to like him/her

You are concerned about how your family and friends feel about your lover. You want them to accept him/her because you want all your highly regarded important people in your life to be happy with this person, welcoming him/her to play a more integrative role in your social circle(s). If you find yourself presenting your partner in a good light to your peers and defending their integrity, you are climbing the scale of love and developing a healthy attachment that may stand the test of time.

You might feel the occasional twinge of jealousy

As your relationship with this person becomes more desirable, your particular sensitivities towards them and their continued safety and well-being will make you more inclined to entertain a bit of jealousy based on your interdependence and trust. You are not inclined to mistrust them or be suspicious of their covert activity, more so you have a concern for their well being in a world that is unpredictable because you would hate to see them suffer any inordinate challenges, or be involved in an accident. Unhealthy jealousy, based on low self esteem and insecurities marked with suspicious activities such as checking their cell phone or browser history is not considered as love so much as it is obsession. If its love, you will maintain a healthy concern based on your trust, mutual respect and love for him or her, not entertaining the green-eyed monster because they might be sneaking around or someone might steal them away.