Relationships are a process that develops over time. Relationships can range from emotional to non-committal. They can end overnight or go on for a lifetime. They range from years of true love to one-night stands.
So here is a relationship ladder that can help show where you want to go. It is certainly not a map, but a progression, up or down. Or, you can even jump off the ladder and be all alone.
Where Do You Stand on the Relationship Ladder?
- Very casual, friends, but not close;
- Fun only, seeking companionship;
- Somewhat steady, seeing each other frequently;
- Somewhat committed, seeing each other 3-5 times a week, talking frequently;
- “Friend with benefits,” close intimate friends, but not fully emotionally committed;
- Fully committed, steady friends, seeing each other regularly, possibly living together;
- No relationship at all with a member of the opposite sex. This can make you happy, resolved, or miserable.
Of course, there are many variations and degrees of relationships, just as there are combinations between men and women. Variations are great since they customize the relationship.
The other key variable is time. Relationships evolve over time; they strengthen, weaken or dissolve.
So where do you stand on the relationship ladder?
You are in control.
You can move up or down, but you should acknowledge the progression of life events that can push you up or down. It’s your choice.
We live in a disposable society.
We regularly throw away plastic bottles, razors, pens, contact lenses, film cameras, and plastic cups. All of these can be recycled and used again toeveryone’s benefit.
But what about relationships?
Are they disposable, too?
Many couples break up and never see each other again. It’s a common story, but the break up never usually answers why he couple cannot remain friends, or better yet, why can’t they reconcile after they agree to meet and discuss their differences. In most cases, that would be the adult thing to do.
In my book, I describe two relationships where the girl I was dating just stopped talking to me. Literally overnight.
Each was different, of course, but in one instance we had planned to go to dinner and she never called. Never again. I sent e-mails, and she said she was busy. When I told her this had never happened to me, she said there was not more reason to communicate.
It was as if a death had occurred.
Very abrupt and straight-forward. Here today, gone tomorrow.
In both instances, the women had gone through bad divorces. I wondered if those past bad experiences had anything to do with how they treated me then. Did those bad events taint their future relationships?
Divorces can often drag on for many months, but the long-awaited finality of the decree means the end to any communications, unless it relates to child custody.
But without that, many divorces demand an abrupt cessation of contact. But what about dating relationships? They are different and should never create the level of animosity often present in a divorce.
But in our society, abrupt endings are common. Maybe people think it’s easier for the next relationship to start as the road down serial relationships begins.
Often this can continue for too many years, when a person wakes one day and realizes they are all alone, maybe for the rest of their lives.
But then, it’s too late.
When people meet and become couples, they create a strong emotional bond.
For some lucky couples, this bond last for years, while for others, this bond can get broken.
When couples break up, it’s a painful event, and commonly resembles what happens when a loved one dies.
Each person in a breakup is damaged. Given the individual circumstances, both or one will suffer emotional pain for months and possibly years.
In these cases, one or both people will be bereaved since they have suffered a loss. “Bereaved” comes from the root word meaning “robbed.” Losing a loved one is being robbed on that attachment.
The could will also go through a period of grief that is very individualized. It is a form of internal emotional pain.
People will enter a period of mourning, which is an external expression of this loss.
Finally, there is a period of healing. The difference is that in a death, there is a finality to the event.
In a dating situation, there is always the possibility of getting back together. In my book, I note that a writer one said “The worst reconciliation is better than the best divorce.”
For people over 50, I think reconciliation is the best choice since dating at that age or older is an intense emotional, financial and physical quest. People over 50 are also more aware of their own finality. With that in mind, reconciliation is the best path. It sure beats starting out all over again.