Love is a many splendored thing

There is a popular song 'Love is a many splendored thing ' sung by the famous singer Frank Sinatra - Love is a ....It's the April rose that only grows in the early spring, Love is nature's way of giving a reason to be living !' . The very words warm our hearts since romance is very much a part and parcel of our life and life would be dull without some romance in it.

The very mention of love brings up images of moon light, roses and two people lost in each other . But, how does one reach that stage of intense and committed love since things cannot happen in a jiffy unless it is mere physical attraction that may lose its fizz in a matter of a couple of days or at the most a week...I am talking about something far more intense and lasting which is bound to change the entire course of a person’s life !

After going through the many stages that love takes to reach its culmination, I have come to the conclusion that we can distinguish 5 stages. There are five simple stages of love beginning from the moment the two people meet and extending to the moment when the two people mutually and consciously choose to form a new entity - well, the 'We' reality !

The five stages I am going to talk about are :

Stage One - Connection

Stage Two – Exploration

Stage Three – Evaluation

Stage Four – Building Intimacy

Stage Five – Commitment

Moving through these different stages of love can be a fulfilling experience ! I am going through these five stages one at a time offering some suggestions of my own as and when I can.

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 Stage One: Connection

They say that two people come together when there is chemical reaction of a kind. Unless there is attraction one does not get drawn to a person. So, we can say that a connection occurs when the exchange of energy between two people flows without any reservation. Romantic connections usually begin with a spark – that invisible subtle chemical attraction that draws you initially and then the two people get drawn to each other like magnets. Sometimes it even feels like Deja vu, that strange familiar feeling as if you have known the person before, it can also show up as an intense feeling of stimulation or as a profound feeling of comfort in the presence of that person. The feelings are so many that keep bringing you closer to this special person.

However, one must also realise that this is just the first step and one can always go wrong in ones perception!!! Connections can occur on several different levels, often at the same time. Mentally when two minds “click”, emotionally you get drawn and feel attracted physically, also feel a spiritual closeness and find your two souls vibrating at the same frequency ! I know it sounds too heavy but this is how it begins when you meet someone who might play a major role in your future life ! You will know it when it happens for sure !

Like I already said before, be warned and be cautious because a strong connection is not the same thing as being in love, nor does it automatically mean you are meant for each other. No doubt connection is the first step and is important for between two people who want to pursue a relationship, but it is only the first step. You may connect with many people at different stages of your life and things may fizzle out after a while, so, it is only by following through on the rest of the steps that you can know if this is truly the love of your life. So the connection is made and now hopefully the two people move on to the next stage.

Stage Two : Exploration

Exploration is going beyond mere connection where you like the person and feel that there are lots of things and tastes similar to both of you. This is the stage which can be called as The ‘getting to know each other ’ stage. Both people reveal their personal histories and share their stories and about their families. With each new piece of information, layers are peeled back, and the couple draws close o each other’s core essence , so to say. Here again don’t go overboard with this since these days many young people share all kinds of information openly with anyone who cares to listen ,not really giving it any undue importance.

However, this stage is an important one because this is when you find out the information you need to assess whether your new partner will ultimately be compatible with you. If it is rushed or any detail overlooked, you may find yourself with someone whom you either do not really know or who is not right for you.

It is also good to remember that this stage can easily be clouded by the first blush of attraction and romance and in the midst of learning all the wonderful new details about your partner and the exhilaration of revealing your own innermost thoughts, it can really be a challenge remembering to proceed with a little bit of caution perceiving what is relevant. Most of us at this stage hang on to each word uttered by the other person and look at these words through rose tinted glasses, probably leaving out some of the more important details. So please be careful and do peek over those rose tinted glasses at least once in a while and look at the reality. Use this stage as an opportunity to explore your potential partner, both inside and out. Ask questions and listen to answers with attention.

Ask about the basics – this is very essential , like for example – where does he live ? What does he do for a living ? Does he like pets ? Does he live with his parents or alone ? This gives you some insight into his lifestyle and his habits.

Ask about his preferences, his past, his hopes and goals – His responses will help you paint a complete picture of who this person is and how he got to be what he is. Watch how he communicates with you and other people and treats other people – waiters, taxi drivers, elderly people, children and also observe him with his friends . All these interactions provide insight into his behavioral pattern and his true nature.

Observing his actions in relation to yours - This is a very important aspect that needs to be addressed right at the beginning . Does he listen to you when you speak to him? or does he interrupt you while you speak? Does ‘Thank you’ come easily to him ? ( some people may think this is superficial but I feel that it is a matter of etiquette and values that have been inculcated in him since childhood) Does he call when he says he will? These may be small details but believe me , they show how he reacts to bigger issues.

So make sure to take a note of all these seemingly smaller details. At the same time, remember that your partner too is getting to know you and make sure that you do not paint a glorious picture about you and your family that is far from the truth nor give any misleading details about yourself. By doing this you , you are wasting both your time by leading him down a deceptive trail. A firm and committed relationship can never be based on untruths.

Be frank and ask some hard questions - I know this is not easy especially since you are already attracted to him and like him a great deal and you may think that any direct question might drive him away from you forever ! But, knowing some relevant details right at the beginning is much better than coming to know some unpleasant truths later in your relationship.

Questions relating to religious belief, financial stability, views about children and his own family, views about his siblings and parents, whether he has any major illness – these need to be addressed right at the beginning if you have any intention of getting serious with him. You don’t need to come down heavily on him like the tax office but one can always approach the issue generally in conversation, to get a sense of where the person stands. Or , if you prefer you can approach the issue directly asking gently in passing, without pressurising him , in a casual tone of voice.

Here, I am sure that he too would want to know about these issues as much as you do, if he too intends to get to know you better. One word of caution though – asking these direct and hard questions sometimes yields responses that you may not want to hear, but you will at least be in possession of all the facts and can make an informed choice about whether he is the right person for you and whether he has the potential.

Stage Three – Evaluation

Now having passed the first two stages we now come to the third stage of romance !!! We have to assume that you and your partner have successfully transited the exploration stage and decided to go forward, you then enter the ‘ Make or break ‘ phase which is Evaluation ! A very important phase, that decides your future course of action. Here is when you weigh the pros and cons of your relationship and assess whether it is worth your continued interest in the person.

I have seen many people over the years choose partners based on something changeable or transitory like looks, money, job or sexual attraction - only to find that the relationship collapses the moment one of these features disappear. What I am trying to say here is that evaluating your partner on transitory features can be disastrous. Be sensible and practical although you may be feeling giddy headed with the flush of romance. When you are away from him or her be dispassionate in analysing , for your own good.

Make a criteria list 

If you have made a criteria list, it is a good time to review them and see how close your potential partner comes to what you are looking for . Most youngsters don’t want to face the truth, they feel it is better to sweep it under the carpet and bring it up at a later date when things begin to go wrong, which is not a fair way of doing it ! Coming up with something like “ I knew you would turn out to be like this , I felt this would happen when you said such and such a thing or did such and such a thing ‘ – it sounds quite immature and childish when couple say this to each other! I know that things can never be perfect and there are bound to be misunderstandings, one can only take care !

Now coming back to the evaluation part , if you are one of those who does not believe in making a list , do take an objective look at your partner and your relationship and assess what works for you and what does not and what you can and cannot live with. Either way, the process entails observing, evaluating and choosing whether to continue the relationship or abort it !

According to many counselors the couple would rather abandon their list of criteria rather than give up on their relationship and this is the cause of many unhappy marriages. [One may argue that there are no such provisions in an arranged marriage but again one should remember that a lot of care is taken by the parents to make sure that the couple are compatible and since there is no exposure to each other , in most cases they begin the process of adjustment with a far more positive attitude once they are married. Here I am not saying that arranged marriages are better, simply stating facts as I see it.] However, coming back to evaluating your partner, I feel that the truer you are to yourself and your requirements, the happier you will be in the long run. A little denial of truth in the present can cause a lot of pain in the future.

Having said all that, Evaluation is a process that has no right answers. It is left to the intuition and understanding of partners. The objective is to create as much certainty as possible in your own heart and self and more importantly in your head in order to be confident and comfortable with your choice. Having made the choice, you will be confident that you made it knowing that you weighed your options and chose after being sure that he or she is right for you.

So now having come more than half way through in your love story we go on to the fourth stage which is all pleasure and helps you get closer to your partner !

love-in-marriage

Stage Four: Building Intimacy

There may be many cases where the couple jump from stage one to stage four ! However, if your evaluation led you to conclude that , yes this is the relationship that you would want to pursue, then you and your partner are ready to move into the next stage of creating love..by building bonds of intimacy and this level brings your relationship deeper beneath the surface and begins the formation of ‘WE’ !

Intimacy is allowing yourself be vulnerable and at the same time making it safe for your beloved to disclose his or her inner reality. Building intimacy is not just about physical intimacy but it is building mental bonds and emotional chemistry! In a way this stage is important in ones love life since you get to know many innermost thoughts and feelings about your partner which can further bring you closer to each other.

The primary method of building intimacy is simply opening the door and allowing your partner to really see the truth of who you are in all your dimensions. By telling the hard truths about yourself, the ones that you are not necessarily proud of , you offer your partner the opportunity to see your most basic human side -your fears, concerns, jealousies or uncomfortable truths from your past which should ideally extend you to your partner in your most vulnerable state and thereby inviting your partner to accept you fully for what you are.

Sharing hopes, wishes and dreams creates firm bonds between partners. Revealing private and innermost thoughts invites your partner in to your innermost world and lets him or her know that your partner is welcome ! Withholding information or making your partner feel unwanted builds walls instead of building bridges. So you have to make your choice whether you want walls or bridges in your relationship with your partner.

Stage Five - Commitment

So now that you have successfully established your love life and there is no looking back you need to take your love story to a conclusion by committing yourselves. One can say that Commitment is the shift from ‘ i think I want this relationship’ to ‘ I know I want this relationship’. It is the moment you move from uncertainties to certainty. It occurs when you have gone through the evaluation process enough to feel strongly about your choice as to back it with conviction.

But, simply because you commit does not mean that you are no longer apprehensive nor does it mean that you are one hundred per cent certain that what you are about to do is absolutely the right thing! Don’t worry since none of us is at any stage 100 per cent sure of our commitment! It only means that enough of you believes that this is the right way to go and he or she is right for you, while the rest of you is willing to take the risk of being wrong. Let me put it in a nutshell – Commitment means that you are putting all your proverbial eggs in one basket and are going to go for it.

Of course, both partners have to commit if the relationship is to last. Some people shy away from making a commitment because they are afraid of making a mistake. It may be possible that they have a history of past mistakes, for which they mentally flog themselves and believe me there are quite a few people belonging to this category. And, before they can ever commit to another relationship, they must forgive themselves and let those past wounds heal. This is something that each person must do , since no one can do this type of dealing for another.

The only thing that one can do is make it safe for your partner to disclose his/her fears and wait for your partner to be ready. If , in case you find that your partner is unwilling to let go of his or her past even after a long time and in spite of you having made all the efforts from your side, you will need to make a choice about whether to stay on or move on ! Marriages, they say are made in heaven but commitments are made right here on earth and unless this step is taken you cannot move forward.

On the other hand, if you are the one who is willing but unable to make the shift from may be yes, then it is your own healing journey you need to speed up .You will need to look inside yourself and examine what is standing in your way and why do you have a mental block? Once you do some introspection and examine your fears you will know what exactly needs to be done to get over these fears and start the healing process. This again depends on how serious about your relationship is. There are some people who go through all the different stages and get stuck here because of some reason or the other. For some it is family constraints which suddenly loom larger than life since they have made some rash decisions earlier and now is the time to think before making a firm commitment. Some people want a guarantee that they are making the right decision and choice and this is ‘IT’.

Conclusions

Love, evaluation and commitment requires some measure of risk too. There are no guarantees in life , so the best thing you can do is search your heart for your truth and stay tuned to your intuitions. If your heart tells you that this person is who you want, then you will have to take a leap of faith. You may never be totally 100 per cent certain that you are doing the right thing, but at the very least you would have learnt some valuable lessons in life. At the very most, you will initiate yourself in love’s higher realms and experience the bliss of a sacred and loving union.

 (images - wikimedia library)


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