Lust at first meeting, love at first sight, but what leads to happy ever after? Blair Glaser has a suggestion.
I met Alice, Gary and their three kids at a Caribbean resort. When I asked how the couple met, they turned to each other with sparkles in their eyes. Alice said, “We met in a bar, went into the alley, and well, sort of never left.”
Their story always serves to remind me that when it comes to love, there are no hard and fast rules or formulas. Even so, it is very rare that a one-night stand evolves into a healthy, long lasting relationship. More often than not, physical intimacy in the very early stages of a relationship diminishes the potential for loving and lasting.
Do you or someone you know who is looking for a serious relationship, have affair after affair that lasts anywhere from three days to three months, and can’t figure out why? While there are many possible reasons, it might be an issue of pacing. In this “on demand” culture, we have forgotten that some really important things take time to develop.
If you are acting like Alice and Gary – jumping into the sac and hoping that a true relationship will come of it, you’re probably finding that the “sac” has plenty of holes.
As a culture, we have forgotten the power of physical intimacy and the vulnerability it evokes. This was certainly the case with a young male client who felt discouraged by his performance in the bedroom with his girlfriend of five days. He liked her so much, but didn’t know her well enough to talk about the awkward feeling he was left with, and so he stopped talking to her completely.
Another client, who had unanticipated, mind-blowing sex with a woman he met online, needed a few days to digest the experience. But in that time, the woman, who had hoped to receive more than a one-line text from him, had written him off.
While there are benefits to the modern, sexually liberated approach to dating, such as the freedom to explore physical pleasure without having to take on the journey that committed relationships require, the more antiquated courting norms of taking it slow protected those looking for love from these kinds of blunders.
I know many people want to get physical sooner rather than later to make sure the chemistry of dating translates to the bedroom. But if you are really enjoying someone’s company, is it worth testing the relationship before it’s ready, before you are comfortable enough to have those uncomfortable conversations? If you are looking for a love that could put an end to looking, how do you pace the sex in a new relationship so that it has a better chance of lasting?
There is the famous “third date” rule, but with total strangers, that’s often too soon. Some relationship experts demand “no sex until monogamy” which can be safe and useful, or feel very transactional: woman trades sex as a reward for man’s pledge of commitment. Others recommend waiting three or even six months to develop a real connection. Some religious folk still believe in waiting until marriage.
I don’t subscribe to a chronological boundary; I prefer a behavioral one. Want a great shot at a lasting love? Wait until you’ve had your first genuine fight.
I know, that may seem a little strange. But when people first meet, the idea that they have differences of opinions, needs and beliefs can be threatening. They will often unconsciously hide their differences from each other to keep the good feelings of togetherness alive. Having a real disagreement– or at least encountering a conflict — means there is a high degree of comfort with each other.
The ability to meet each other in difference, to come up against an opposing idea, value or desire in your partner, and get through it without destroying the connection will show you if true teamwork and compatibility are possible. Since, as a couple you’ve made it through something a little scary and risky, and survived, it means you have a much stronger foundation and a better chance of handling the incredible intensity of physical intimacy.
If you want a real relationship with long lasting potential — roll around in the ring a bit before the bedroom. It will be hard to hold back, but if you can take the time to get to know your partner and the potential for partnership, the feelings of romantic connection have a better chance of blossoming from mere physical attraction into actual care. And then, ironically, you’ll have a much better chance of ending up like Alice and Gary.
Original publication: Digital Romance
Photo: Flickr (altered)/See-ming Lee