Did you know that 70 percent of new couples will break up within the first year? That number is staggering isn't it?
There are certain things that must happen in the first year of a relationship that will determine its success or failure. Most new couples will make these mistakes and, until they are corrected, the pattern of one failed relationship after another will likely continue. Once you become aware of what these are and how to prevent them, you'll know exactly what to do about it.
In this post, we're going to tell you:
1. How to meet the right people to begin with.
2. How to identify what WORKS with that person and do it.
3. The 3 stages that every new relationship must go through to succeed.
So let's get started...
1. Are you dating the right people?
Now clearly there is no way to know whether the one you're seeing is the right one until you really get to know them, but there are things you can do that will set you up for success.
If you're like most people, then you date mostly based on attraction and feelings. These are important, but they are not the whole deal. Of course you will want to be attracted to and feel good about the person you're dating, but you also need to think clearly about what that person is like and whether they have qualities that you look for in a partner.
Studies have shown that Love is quite literally blind. Feelings of Love actually override the critical thinking processes in the brain. If you've ever found yourself thinking years after a relationship ends, "OMG what did I ever see in this person?", that's probably why. Your initial attraction is intoxicating but usually has very little to do with the person's actual character.
Without becoming a robot there is no way to avoid this entirely, and you wouldn't want to anyway. Nobody wants to miss out on all the great "feels" of new Love. But what about when the "feels" fade? There are some things you can do when dating to protect yourself from disappointment and heartbreak.
Consider what kind of person you want to meet. Not just how they look, but what are they like? What kinds of things would they say and do? How will they treat you? How will they treat other people? If you are clear about this from the beginning, when you meet them, you'll know.
Consider where you would meet someone like that. An astonishing number of people meet their potential partners in bars or nightclubs. We're not saying that can't work, but it's not the most promising place to find true Love. Perhaps your regular environment--work, school, social life, etc.--doesn't easily foster connection with the kind of person you want to meet. If that's so, then you'll need to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself in situations where you'll be likely to meet new kinds of people.
Identify specific things that you can recognize about a person when you meet them. For example: they say please and thank you; they tip well; they tend to have positive and uplifting things to say about others and about life in general; they seem to be generous, kind, courteous, respectful.
Make them qualities that you can easily identify before getting to know someone. Create your list of qualities and don't entertain anyone who doesn't live up to them. If you learn to be discerning in this way, you will immediately begin dating very high quality people. Our clients have seen tremendous shifts in their relationships with this one simple practice.
2. Never stop doing the things that make the relationship work.
All relationships that work have one thing in common: both partners involved never get lazy.
You can expect to see the best of your partner early on in the relationship. Everything is new and exciting. There is passion and connection and you can't keep your hands off each other. You are both willing to compromise, be adventurous and outside of the box. You stay up all night together. You're generous and open, willing to give everything you can to each other.
It's very common about three to nine months into the relationship for all this to begin to change. Some change is natural and of course necessary, but some is not. This is the point in which one or both partners tend to get comfortable in the relationship. They stop caring about all the little things that made the relationship feel special and magical. They assume that their Love is understood and stop doing the things that make the other person feel Loved.
The details of a relationship will change. You will likely not show your Love the same way a year into the relationship as you did 2 months in. What should never change is the intention to show your Love. Just as you cannot live on the food you ate yesterday, your relationship cannot survive on the Love that was given yesterday.
When you become too comfortable in your relationship and you begin to think that your Love is "understood" rather than something that should be created in every moment together, your relationship is sure to fail.
This can be a very uncomfortable time of growth in a new relationship because what came naturally to you both early on doesn't seem like it's there any more. What worked for you in the first few months isn't necessarily going to work in the same way several months down the road.
We often coach couples on learning to communicate with each other how they need to be Loved and to make agreements with each other to do the things that will make their partner feel Loved.
Perhaps you don't really know what you truly desire for your partner to say or do that will have you feel their Love. You'll need to explore and discover that as the relationship unfolds.
Sometimes this takes some soul-searching and it certainly requires vulnerability. Over time it requires commitment and action to the things that are important to you both--even when you don't feel like it. Like anything else in life, we do what is needed to have the things that are important to us work. This can be a challenging time for new couples, and they often reach out to us for support in navigating this period of uncertainty. Those couples that work through overcoming the challenges together move forward in their relationship having created new levels of depth and intimacy as a result, and they've most definitely solidified a foundation on which their relationship is likely to succeed.
3. The 3 stages of the first year.
There are 3 stages that most couples go through, usually in the first year, sometimes into the second year: Projection, Disillusionment, and Surrender.
Projection: The Projection phase is the period of time in which we experience falling in Love.
This is a fantastic stage although not entirely realistic. We all have fantasies about relationships. We've seen it in books and movies since we were very young, and we've all developed our "happily ever after" story that we want to live out to some extent . We project all of these fantasies onto our new relationship: "This person is so amazing", "I've never felt like this before", "I can't believe how lucky I am", "This is 'The One' and so on. As we said earlier, this is also the time, when the feeling of being in Love overrides our critical thinking.
We want to be clear in what we're saying here--Projection is not a bad thing; it's a wonderful thing! This is what makes the relationship worth pursuing. Projection is what has you see the possibility of true Love in this person, to be willing to take a risk and go for it. It is essential to the relationship.
Trouble happens when we don't see it for what it is--a fantasy. You think that this feeling will last forever, that your view of this person and your relationship will never change. Inevitably, you're disappointed when it does and this leads to Disillusionment. Often after a period of struggling with this disillusionment, you end the relationship and move on.
If you think that Love is the same thing as the feeling of being "in Love" you'll find yourself in an endless cycle of disappointment.
Disillusionment: Breakups usually occur during this second phase which is why 70 percent of couples break up in the first year.
In any new relationship, you're sure to go through a time when things don't seem as "perfect" as they did in the beginning. You begin to see the character flaws of your partner, they do or say things that upset you, you have differences of opinion and sometimes those differences are hard to reconcile.
When this happens we often think we have to find a way "back" to where we were, but that is incorrect. Where you were wasn't real and now you're moving toward what is real. Rather than trying to get that rush of being "in Love" back, move forward toward true Love--understanding, connection, intimacy, respect.
It's important to understand that this is a phase of growth in the relationship. Don't run away from it--run into it.
When things get difficult, let them be difficult. Come together in Love and say, "This is difficult right now, let's be gentle with ourselves and each other and let's get through it together." Don't get angry. Learn to respect that you are different people with different backgrounds and ideas. Learn to compromise and reconcile those differences and be generous in making allowances for each other. This will bring you to the final stage of Surrender.
Surrender: Couples that stick it out and do the work in the second phase will eventually reach a place of Surrender. This is where the real relationship begins, usually sometime in the second year. You still have disagreements but they aren't as big a deal as they used to be. You've learned how to talk to each other and how to be with each other. You've created and developed trust because you've stuck through some of the most challenging times together and didn't walk away. You know you can rely on each other, that you're not just in it for the "good stuff".
At this stage, you're pretty certain that you are both here to stay. Of course there is always the possibility of breaking up, but that fear doesn't have much space in the relationship any more. If it was going to happen, it likely would have already.
Once you reach this stage, so much becomes available in terms of having a life together. This is when you seriously begin to plan your future together. In our opinion, this is the time when you'll be considering moving in together, getting married etc. We often see couples jump into these commitments in the Projection Phase, and once Disillusionment hits, the relationship crumbles.
By the time you've reached the Surrender Phase, the mutual commitment to the relationship has been repeatedly affirmed. You've seen the best and the worst of each other and learned how to be with both. Until you reach this stage you really can't trust that relationship will endure. It's the work that's done in the second stage that creates trust and gives you something solid to stand on together.
As you seek to create true Love whether you're single and dating or early on in a new relationship, keep these things in mind:
1. Do your best up front to meet the kind of person that you want to end up with. There are no guarantees but if you date consciously, you'll save yourself a lot of time.
2. Even when you get comfortable in the relationship, keep putting in the effort. Find out how your partner wants to be Loved and take conscious action to have them feel it. Let them do the same for you and make sure you're having conversations in which you are getting to know each other on this level.
3. Don't forget that the great feelings of new Love will not last forever, and don't be discouraged as the relationship changes. Be courageous enough to grow into the relationship with your partner, embrace the uncertainty and the challenges, and work together to get through them. This will build trust for your future together.
The magic of a relationship is not found in the rush and passion of a new experience--it's found in the depth of Love and trust that you create in taking on the world together over time. Make that your goal and enjoy the ups and downs along the way.
We believe that Love makes the world a better place and we want you to have it!
Having gone through many years of relationship challenges ourselves, we've discovered firsthand what it takes to create True Love.
We are simply two people, perfectly flawed in all kinds of ways, traveling the path of Life together, making mistakes, growing through them, and learning from success and failure.
Love is the most important thing in Life. If you're missing it, you're missing out.
We coach you through sorting out all the possible options, learning how to meet the right one, and putting all the right ingredients in at the beginning to create the Love of a Lifetime.
Get started on creating a relationship that most people only dream about.
To learn how working with us can transform your life and relationships, or if you'd like to schedule an introductory session with us, click here. We'd love to get to know you.