Stages of a relationship - Love is reciprocal acceptance
Value of a child comes from the loving look of a parent. In partnership, value comes from admiration, appreciation, love, and security. We reflect ourselves through others and the happiest result is “I am good as myself, important and loving” and “the world is a good place to be and to live in, there is also room for my feelings, thoughts and actions”.
The prerequisite for truly loving another is to first love yourself as a whole person. Once you have made contact with the various aspects of yourself and find yourself lovable and respectable, you no longer have to transfer unacceptable aspects of yourself to others in order to despise those aspects in others.
Facing your whole self, “This is me in all my aspects”, makes it possible to face another person as a whole. The other may have aspects that feel awfully comfortable and also aspects that do not arouse the same degree of infatuation. However, the feeling of “I love you just the way you are” is like a child’s experience of good parenting.
Mental closeness is about the other seeming like a best friend
Love could be thought of as consisting, for example, of the following elements:
- Intimacy: mental intimacy, emotional connection and sharing
- Passion: physical intimacy, romance – strong romantic and sexual feelings
- Commitment: understanding your own feelings and desire and decision to commit to a relationship, no matter what difficulties may arise
- Human growth promoting love
Mental closeness, intimacy, is often accompanied by the feeling that your partner is your best friend. You can share your deepest feelings, thoughts, values and objectives with them. You have affectionate feelings for your partner and a strong sense of acceptance. Such relationships are characterized by long-term commitment.
Passionate love includes intense feelings of physical infatuation, dreams, escape from reality, maybe threat or even danger. Passion is often related to the initial stages of the relationship, or it can be based on an impossible relationship or experience of danger, as in the musical West Side Story. Intense passion can result from severe suffering or necessity. Extreme passion is harder to come by if your partner is safely by your side all the time.
Commitment means being together in both good and bad times, enduring and sympathizing. Commitment as a strategy for a relationship means accepting life’s fluctuations and trusting that taking your partner’s needs into account will also lead to the best outcome for yourself. This means sometimes putting your partners needs before your own. The situation resembles a relationship between a child and a parent; taking care of the child’s well-being is a prerequisite for your own well-being.
Love promotes human growth
Human growth promoting love emphasizes the basic need for all to create lasting emotional relationships that include caring and the desire to create the conditions for growth and development for themselves and for others. A safe relationship gives you the opportunity to connect with your own needs, your feelings. It also creates the basis for self-respect, growth and development. In a committed relationship, it is also possible to work on feelings of success and control, jealousy and aggression. In growth promoting love, we are aware of how we can promote the growth of another as a man or woman.
The weights of the elements of love vary at different stages of the relationship. If a relationship begins with great passion, it usually subsides over time. If other elements become stronger at the same time, the relationship may develop better. Thus, the forms of love and the meaning of the relationship vary during a long relationship.
Authors: Relationship Experts, the Family Federation of Finland