The “Romance Phase” is, by nature, temporary. And it often ends painfully. Like yanking a band-aid off – skin, scab and all.
*Grace de Rond bought tickets for a Paris getaway, and submitted this article and photo, just hours before the November 13 attacks in Paris. Originally she suggested that we hold the article since the picture, taken by a friend, was part of her submission. After contemplating both this picture and her travel plans she decided she didn’t want terror to win and if Paris became associated with terror, rather than for the beauty and romance it has always represented to her, she knew that something precious would be lost. So she decided to go ahead with her plans — we are running her article and she’s in Paris this weekend. She said, “It simply feels like the right thing to do.”
My husband and I had a fabulous romance phase. I was helping to renovate a building and spending a lot of time in the attic, shoveling old insulation into garbage bags – and Ron was ecstatically happy to help me shovel! So we turned on music and danced on the beams. When our favorite song came on in restaurants, we’d jump up between the tables and dance. He wrote poems for me. We jumped in the ocean with our clothes on. Even shopping for groceries together felt mystical!
During the romance phase life is perfect. We’re both on our best behavior because we want to impress and please each other. We start out thinking, “It makes me feel so good when you adore and appreciate me. So I’m going to show you only my very best.”
But it can’t last. Eventually, we’ll think, “It’s difficult to keep this up. But if I show you all of me, your feelings for me might change.” And for the first time, we feel some tension.
In the beginning, we’re willing to do almost anything to hold on to a new relationship. But if it’s based only on “best behaviors,” we’ll be surprised when we finally meet the rest of each other. Then we’ll say, “What happened to the person I first knew?” But that “perfect person” was only visible through our romance filter.
Showing only our good stuff can’t last. This is where integrity in communication comes in. Something inside us wants to be true to ourselves. And if we’re not doing that, we won’t feel good.
Then we’re likely to blame the other person. But the problem is not with discovering the hidden parts of him or her. The problem is that we’re hiding parts of who we truly are. And we won’t feel better until we correct that.
If we continue making what’s wrong with the relationship all about the other person, what used to be cute will become annoying. Small issues will turn into big problems. Hidden agendas will develop into power struggles. We’ll begin to think about splitting up. And if we stay together, it may be out of resignation. And then we’ll spend a lot of time on autopilot, out of resentment.
No more feeling exclusive with each other. No more butterflies or rushes. No more joy.
This transition from romance phase to stalemate – and on to breakup or breakthrough – can take days or decades. If we’re smart, we’ll go in fully aware with our eyes open, and we’ll stay focused on the goal, which is a healthy loving relationship.
Imagine knowing that it’s all right to be who we truly are. And imagine knowing that we’re in charge of how we feel, and not holding others responsible for that anymore. And imagine being in a relationship with someone who’s doing the same!
When we practice feeling what we want to feel, the person who matches that will show up – whether it’s the person we’re already partnering with, or a new relationship. But we can’t create positive change for ourselves if we’re focusing more energy on what we don’t want.
So here are some keys for turning romance phase into real love.
Be true to yourself. We lose our integrity when we mean one thing and then say or do something else. And what we truly think and feel always reveals itself anyway, usually through our nonverbal signals, because it’s not possible to tell a lie without telling the truth at the same time. So focus on communicating what you mean, without justifying yourself out of fear of being misjudged.
Become a match for what you want. Say to yourself, “I’m in the process of expressing who I truly am, for me, rather than for someone else. And my (future) partner knows who he/she truly is and is also comfortable expressing that. And when we meet up, we’ll recognize that in each other. And as we keep expressing honestly, we’ll grow together at the same pace.”
Trust the process. We find love by expressing love. And then we’re able to be authentic from the beginning, because we’re not afraid to be vulnerable. We let the other person see all of who we are. And the reward is intimacy, which is true romance.
When who we are, and what we say and do, matches the intention of our hearts, our whole being sends a single message. And by taking this power into our own hands, any relationship can become what we want it to be. And all our relationships can be based on real love.
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Photo Credit: Jonathan Kluger