I talk a lot about “scaling” with business, blog, life, etc. Relationships scale as well. They progress over time – or at least they should. Below is what I found to be a normal progression for the relationships in my life.
Phase 1: In the beginning, there was a guy…
Things start as two people hanging out. We’re usually talking about topics of mutual interest. Not romance, just “stuff”. Gaming, blogs, work, technology, internet, music, movies, etc. A bond begins to form. For example, if I meet someone and the common ground is gaming, it is not abnormal for us to play games together. If it is blogging we discuss different blogging styles or bounce ideas off each other. If it is movies, watch some movies together.
This is why the “I don’t want to jeopardize our friend/work/gaming/movie-watching/etc. relationship” theory falls apart for me. Usually the person is saying “THE thing” that brought the two people together would be the driving force to tear them apart. I’m not talking about “I met someone at the movies, we both enjoy movies, ergo he/she is The One”. Continue reading…
Phase 2: It starts to get personal….
Next step: we start sharing personal things about ourselves. Usually it starts small and builds over time. For example, small would be frustrations at work (my boss gets on my nerves) and progressing to sharing the entire “work” picture (instead of summarizing a situation the entire details, including names and perhaps confidential details, are discussed). The progression implies that, over time, the two are building trust with each other. This is happening on both sides but not necessarily in the same areas.
Phase 3: The line starts to get crossed….
Up to this point, it’s platonic. Just two friends having fun based on their mutual interests. Progressing would mean being more personal with the person, for example talking about past/current relationships. Depending on the “thing” that binds the two people is a step forward. For example, if I met a guy and he was drawn to me because of my posts on relationships then it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if we started off talking about relationships. If I met a guy, we started talking about movies and we’re talking about our past relationships that is progression.
Why is it progression? It is a higher level of trust, a higher level of sharing. I said the line starts to get crossed because it depends on how the two people are talking about their past. The conversation might dip into a more personal area but the conversations will revert back to Platonic Land.
Phase 4: Hmm…that felt pretty good. Let’s try this….
But maybe now since the two got a taste of intimacy they don’t want to stay in Platonic Land…so onward they go! They talk about sex! Don’t confuse this with talking about sex with each other – just sex talk in general. At this point, depending on the formation of the “friendship” the two have already crossed the line from platonic to basic intimacy. They don’t want to be in Platonic Land and are pushing their boundaries.
Phase 5: Inquiring minds must know….
The discussion moves to specific sexual behavior. Favorite positions, sexual history, etc. This is when the “how many people have you slept with” question comes up. More intimate information about past relationships comes out. It becomes “important” the other person knows this information. Keep in mind, at this point there might not be a conscious “I want to know this information” effort going on. When two people connect it is natural and these levels might not be recognizable as they are happening. It is not abnormal to converse with a person you are building a connection with and drop personal information like it isn’t anything. The two people are connecting – that’s a good thing.
Some couples have sex at this point. I don’t because sex blurs things. If the guy is relationship potential there are two phases missing (for me).
Phase 6: Tyme likes to push boundaries…
*Turning this to first person because it is easier and quicker to say “I” than he/she/one.*
At this point I want to know deeply personal information I have no business knowing unless the relationship is NOT platonic. STD history (yes, I REALLY have that conversation), pickle size, how often he’s having sex, is he having sex with women that can give me something(?)…but more important – can he handle my sexual spontaneity? Sexual compatibility has become important and I’m gonna push the boundaries to see if he is a good match. As much information as I’m gathering I’m sharing twice as much.
By this point it is a joke to pretend the relationship is strictly platonic. How important is it to be able to rattle off pickle size, favorite positions, and sexual history? Just because the information is being shared does not mean the two are compatible enough to take it to the next level (maybe it is just a sex thing). I’m saying it is laughable to suggest the two have a platonic interest in each other having that type of conversation. Unless they are in the sex industry perhaps.
Safe to say I’m interested at this point. The only reason I care about pickle size and whether the pickle is healthy is because I’m entertaining the fact of said pickle going into the vajayjay. Why else would I care?
Phase 7: The Most Important Phase!!!!!!
Sex talk is fun but that isn’t an indicator of true compatibility. The next phase is the important one and will take time to happen (no way around it). This phase can’t be rushed. A person isn’t a true friend, let alone a potential partner, unless the two have been through “hard” things together and consistently are victorious. Minus lots of drama. The “bad” parts of our personalities have to be known to the other person and to do that, it requires trust. A platonic relationship takes a different path (minus sex stuff) but the dark side has to be revealed in order to really “know” the other person. That does not mean the two people will not hurt each other because pain is inevitable but the resolution of the issues are not drama bound. The natural instinct is to fix the situation and under normal circumstances there isn’t a bunch of jumping through hoops, living up to impossible expectations, etc. The two people are, by this time, on the same level feelings wise and it shows (whether they admit it or not). Let’s look at some examples to tell the difference:
Bad match: Guy is in school and is in the middle of finals. He mentions it to the girl. The girl sympathizes and says it sucks. The next day she asks if he wants to go out because X is having a party. Going out basically screws up his ability to excel on his finals.
Good match: Guy is in school and is in the middle of finals. He mentions it to the girl. The girl sympathizes and says it sucks. She offers to help him study, gives him tips (if applicable), and/or relieves him of other things so he can focus on his exams. If she knows about a party and knows he’d like to go she’ll help him get things done so he can go without worrying about his grades.
Bad match: Girl and guy get into a disagreement. Both think they are right. The guy tries to talk to the girl about it and the girl says “this is how things SHOULD BE” and has expectations. The guy relinquishes because it wasn’t worth the disagreement in the first place. Three weeks later the girl is still talking about it.
Good match: Girl and guy get into a disagreement. Both think they are right. Guy tries to resolve things. Seeing the guy trying the girl relinquishes her stances and together they both find a happy medium to resolve the issue. Since the issue is resolved, the situation never comes up again. Next time they have a disagreement the girl makes the first move on resolving issues.
If either one lies the issue is not resolved. It’s just paused until later. After the lie comes out and is resolved, then it’s over.
Frustration, anger, inconvenience, pain, disagreements, conflict, anxiety, jealousy, exhaustion, etc. have entered the picture. So has a basic level of love – which is why the two people resolve their issues well. Over time getting to know the person builds the connection. The more you know the more you like the person. You can’t be sure it is love until it has been tested and both survive the test – consistently. Problems are a part of life. Looking back and seeing all the two of you have gone through together (not like example A where one person goes through it and the other sits on the sidelines), and you’re still close, is a better indicator. The more you go through with a person the stronger the connection is, the more the love grows. That does not mean the couple is ready to get married and have kids.
It means the “I’m afraid of messing up my relationship with my bowling league buddy so I won’t take it to the next level” excuse is not a true issue, it’s anxiety of messing up something important to you. What are the odds that the issues the two went through together were related to bowling league issues? Almost zero. They were personal issues – the line was crossed a long time ago and things could have torpedoed during disagreement #1. The fact that things don’t torpedo over time means the match is good.
Oh shit, now what?
At this point it can fork in many different directions. Perhaps one person has too much fear to move forward so the relationship descends back into Platonic Land. Perhaps they both discuss it and decide the risk is too great and the relationship descends back into Platonic Land. Or they take it to another level at their own pace. Worse case scenario they do nothing and pretend nothing is going on. I question whether two people who were that close can stay in Platonic Land. I think over time the two lose touch and the friendship dies, especially if one of them starts seeing other people.
Because my relationships normally start off as friends first it is not abnormal that the guy and I have said we loved each other – as friends. However, if I know pickle size, have an interest in pickle health, know how many woman the man has slept with and I’m going through his life issues with him if I say I love you it has changed from platonic to romantic. That doesn’t mean I want to get married and have children because to me love grows over time. For me, the guy should not focus on the words “I love you” to measure my feelings. My actions will show the level of love I have. Even if the guy and I are at the point of saying I love you if he becomes dependent on hearing the words (when I am focused on the actions) he might misconstrue my feelings or intent if I don’t say I love you (yet I’m showing it).
In the end….
Whether a relationship progresses or not is up to the two people. Just because all the signs are there doesn’t mean it will happen. If one person has that much anxiety to halt the natural progression of the relationship forcing the issue won’t work. The only thing to do is move on, respecting the other person’s fear/anxiety. Ironically, that can be a death sentence to the friendship because the rejected person doesn’t want to be around the other person. How many times have you seen that? The girl says no and the guy says he needs some space. How many weeks or months go by before the girl talks to the guy again? Perhaps the two are cordial but the close friendship is gone.
Without ever having the relationship. Ironic isn’t it?
That’s because the person with the fear guided the relationship to end exactly as the person feared. If you have a connection with another like I describe above, the person knows how the other will react to rejection. Then the person with the anxiety can say he/she was right all along even though the fear created a false premise.
The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the original false conception come ‘true’. This specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. For the prophet will cite the actual course of events as proof that he was right from the very beginning.
Self-fulfilling prophecies are a bitch, yo.