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The 4 Key Reasons for Relationships


I found a wonderful person on the internet 7 years ago, but we had a dfference of opinion on where the relationship should go and,sadly, went our separate ways after the most heavenly two year friendship. I wasn't ready for a new 24/7 life with someone else yet, despite the deep love we had for each other, and he wasn't keen to start afresh either because of his age. But what a fellow and what a friendship, especially as we were chalk and cheese in every sense of the word: culturally, racially and in philosophy!

The passionate feelings are still there between us but I have moved on, enriched by his presence. I would not have missed the journey for the world because it all adds to our learning experience. He certainly provided the litmus test and yardstick for what makes me happy in a relationship and I give thanks for it. That's why I am so certain of what I want now and feel good at having the skills to detect whether it is there or not in any potential date.

The Four Reasons for a Relationship
Many of us do not know this, but people come into our lives for one or more of four different reasons:

1.To teach us something, or for us to teach them in turn - and the lesson could be either positive or a negative wake-up call; AND/OR

2. To guide us out of a depression or bad patch in our lives;AND/OR

3. To build up our confidence to deal with the next person in line - who could even be the big one for us - AND/OR

4. To be the genuine article: our long-term soulmates or partners.

So hankering after lost loves in bitterness, anger or vengeful hostility is the worse thing you could do to yourself. They have served their purpose and moved on. It has to be accepted with LOVE and FORGIVENESS for your life to progress too. Notice too that finding the right person for us has only a 25% chance of occurring whenever we meet anyone!

I thought David was the real thing because of the intensity and length of the relationship. But, he was type No.1 and 2 - there to teach me about real, unselfish love and guide me out of my marital crisis while I taught him an alternative view of life. And boy, did we learn! He will always be a beacon for me. I thank him so much because I am a different, much better, person now than when I first met him.

Unrealistic Expectations
However, the main problem with seeking a new partner, with meetings which flounder and with many relationships which end up being shorter than expected, is that most people believe every person they meet and like will be the BIG ONE, No.4, and burden it with our expectations! But nothing could be further from the truth.

The trick is to let that first contact gradually reveal the nature of itself without too many expectations, while taking an interest in that person. Instead of just focusing on yourself, be detached, yet reciprocal, to give yourself some enjoyment and happiness in the learning process. Often we are too busy focusing on our needs, being anxious about how the relationship is going to shape up that we miss the early incompatible signals. But they are ALWAYS there!

For those in failing relationships which are proving increasingly unhappy, let it go! You have both done your jobs and are merely preventing each other from carrying on your work elsewhere, from personal self-fulfilment or even meeting the REAL one. Painful, I know, but it is really about choices and results. The ones you want for your life. If you have genuinely tried to keep it going without much change, hanging on will only lead to a bottomless pit of unhappiness and frustration which robs you of self-esteem and makes you feel worse. If you are not being validated and affirmed, you will feel awful, which shows in your actions and body, making you unattractive to others.

When we let go, it is ALWAYS for a good reason which is not visible at the time and the rewards are usually unexpected. We just need the courage to ACT.

The First Key Stage in a Relationship


Most people fall in love but it isn't quite the random process many of us might believe it is. No matter whom we fall in love with, and how coincidental it seems, there was a definite pattern to it. It actually starts with a key stage: selection, the beginning of the honeymoon phase. This is also the most important because without the expectation and actual success in selecting the right partner, nothing else will happen: no dialogue, no love, no marriage, no sex, no continuation of the species! This is the time when expectation is high on one hand but carefully muted to some degree, often deliberately suppressed to prevent any personal disappointment.

Selection involves a hunt of some duration, ending with the catch or prize – the potential partner. The only goal at this stage is to attract someone to whom the person is appealing in return. Everything hinges on this ultimate objective and, to prevent any disaster, there is a high level of teasing, pretending and game playing. The guy might pretend he is merely seeking a 'friend', no commitment, of course, while the girl might pretend he is no one special, perhaps playing 'hard to get' in the process. Thus, reading the signals becomes crucial at this time in case we overreact, but they are often missed through inexperience, fear of not making an impression, offending the other person, or through too much excitement and bravado. Sometimes they are also misinterpreted through a difference in culture, age or gender perception or the wish to appear 'nice' and accommodating

The emphasis here is on getting someone healthy, worthy, almost a mirror image of the hunter in culture, race and values. Someone almost flawless in every respect in order to continue the species in the most effective form, and in the quickest possible time. Efforts are then made to catch the attention of someone special, primarily to make a connection, nothing more. In fact, if we still have some unresolved problems with a parent, this is the time we may unconsciously choose someone who is similar to, or the opposite of, him or her. We may even find a partner attractive because she has traits we feel we lack or we find unacceptable in ourselves.

Attracting Attention
For example, a woman who is too serious may like a man who is fun-loving and carefree. But, later down the line, too much extroversion, especially at the wrong moments, might jar on the more reserved party. Initially the differences in personality will seem very appealing, but they are more likely to irritate after a while, especially if they are the result of low self-esteem, and will inevitably take their toll on the stronger party.

The selection stage is characterised by an elaborate ritual of drawing attention to one's self at every opportunity and seeking interest from the other party – often with unrealistic expectations to match. The main aim at this crucial time is to impress others and to stir a positive reaction. Many people go to lengths to find a reciprocal mate, especially with regard to physical attraction. They try to look their best, preening themselves like peacocks, and often in the latest fashions, to emphasise their individuality and style. They try to say the right things at all times and to behave according to the perceived expectations of the intended one – perceptions which are likely to be based upon past experience. That is why many suitors make the mistake of using the expectations of former partners, or general stereotypes, to judge new ones. Bad move, in fact, because everyone likes to be treated individually. Each person's expectation will also be age-related, culturally referenced, value driven and based upon her/his future objectives.

In selecting a potential mate most men invariably focus on the physical: someone 'beautiful', 'stunning', 'gorgeous', 'a real babe', translated as one who looks good and carries the right height, weight, hair and boobs! They also loathe any form of rejection, taking offence at the slightest lack of interest, but are usually quick to reject the women they do not deem to be suitable and often without a second thought. For women it is a more emotional requirement, though well-developed bulges in the right places, like biceps and triceps, will not be overlooked! Attributes women value in men are passion, love, a caring nature and loyalty. If they are older, at least some hair and the suitor's own teeth would not go amiss! Some money would be welcome too, while a nice bum would be a great bonus. This is the time when we would almost go through hoops to be noticed, which also makes us ultra-sensitive to the mildest form of rejection.

Desperation Creeping In
Trouble arises when one party is already further down the attraction line – such as being at the third stage of commitment – that is too obvious too early, which tends to frighten off the other party. Connection then hangs in the balance while other factors are used to judge the possibility of further progress, like the value of the prize (whether he/she is 'worth it'), and the personal state of readiness to move more rapidly beyond the selection stage. Factors like these influence the decision whether to proceed or not with the chosen one. As this 39-year-old male says about his method of selecting: "I prefer women under 35 or over 45. The in-betweens are best avoided. Women between those ages have moved into those years where they feel the overwhelming urge to 'settle down' and have children. Desperation creeps in then, and desperation is never sexy."

When that crucial connection is made, it is time to move on to the next stage, besottment.

What key elements make two people incompatible?


Q. I think I've found Mr. Right. He treats me well and calls me princess (well everyone knows I am)..lol...we think alike, we complete each others sentences and say exactly the same thing at the same time. I sometimes answer him before he asks. He is very romantic and very protective of me. He is my knight. The one I was searching for. He has already asked me to marry him and I said "YES". I feel we were meant to be. What do you think?

A. It must be a great feeling to be in love, especially when it makes you feel really excited at the thought of seeing that person and sharing things together. Well done. But you have to be aware of signs of incompatibility, no matter how in-love you feel because they are always there at the beginning. It is just that love blinds us to them until it is too late.

People tend to be most incompatible on six areas of a relationship. Listed in order of their propensity to damage the relationship, these are their:

1. VALUES (what they cherish and care about - traditions, customs, habits);

2. PERSONALITY (the manner in which they perceive and act, whether introvert or extrovert, confident or fearful);

3. COMMUNICATION (whether they can talk to each other in a free and fearless way);

4. PERSPECTIVES on life (like their political and social leanings);

5. SEXUAL needs and approach (one might have a higher libido than the other, or one might even have had sexual abuse and fear it).

6. ASPIRATIONS (for example, whether they want children or not, to work abroad or stay at home);

In effect, these factors relate to what the couple wants for the relationship and the future. But these crucial points of potential incompatibility are not so obvious at the beginning in the heady days of romance and being starry-eyed with optimistic expectations, especially when couples are reluctant to ask uncomfortable questions of each other. But they really need to be addressed to lessen the disappointment later.

I met my soulmate seven years ago and we went for over 2 years in an awesome relationship. We had different issues at the time and decided to go our separate ways in the end, still very much in love, but the moments spent together were simply magical. He taught me what real love, especially self-love, was about. It was a relationship marked by great love, lots of giving and taking, mutual affirmation and reinforcement and amazing sex. We just wanted to hug each other all the time, to be as close as possible, with endless chats on the phone, lots of discussions about our pet subjects and tons of sheer affection and appreciation. Considering that we were both in our mid 50s, that was some relationship.

I remember him fondly because there were hardly any points of mismatch between us. He seems to go off the scale on most of the major factors. We clearly matched in values, perspectives, sex and approach, but not on aspirations, an important point, and so had to leave it there. I used to think we would be back together sometime but perhaps not. I believe in destiny and that people are sent into our lives for a reason. Not necessarily to stay forever, but to assist our journey for that moment and move on. I wish him well, with all my love, and continue my search for, hopefully, someone even better.

In your case, especially as you are getting married, it might be a good idea to take a hard look at the six factors above to see where there might be areas of disagreement or contention in the future, especially with SEX and ASPIRATIONS. What plans has he got for HIS future and the relationship which might conflict with yours? Is he likely to be controlling? What kind of sexual practices would he be interested in? Would you want the same too? Only direct and regular communication will reveal the true person and finding out before the marriage is far less painful and costly than further down the line.

Are All New Relationships Based on a Lie?


Anyone can cope with life when it's calm and rosy, but the real character and worth of an individual shine through when there is stress and chaos. The main reason for this dual entity relates to our desire to be ourselves on one hand, yet to constantly impress others on the other, particularly potential partners.

So, we are never likely to reveal our true selves while we are comfortable and well settled. For this reason, the longer the comfort time enjoyed in the relationship the less likely we are to truly know our partner. This is because, early in the relationship, we prefer to mirror the needs and expectations of others who matter to us until we are forced to reveal our true selves.

Thus any new relationship is based on a kind of lie involving two strangers, who are rarely what they seem, for the primary purpose of eliciting maximum satisfaction from the new bonding. That is why partners appear to be markedly different after marriage, or after years of living together. As the saying goes, men marry women hoping they will stay the same forever, while women hope to change their men immediately after wedlock! The agenda is apparently set by both parties from the wedding day, except that each is careful not to reveal it until later.

It only becomes noticeable over time as their individual personalities take over, especially if they are frustrated in their personal aims. So long as life is chugging along happily, and each half feels comfortable with the partnership, only a few easily observable characteristics will be exposed. The important ones will remain dormant and deadly for a long time until they are required.

Come a day that is stressful and problematic then new elements of the spouse's character, particularly negative ones, will be pushed to the fore. It is only a matter of time before those invisible forces take effect. Years later, when the couple seem almost like two strangers again, they are likely to marvel how little they really knew their partners when they honestly thought they did. Hence the proverbial, "My wife/husband doesn't understand me", a statement which might appear rather odd, considering the near-perfect understanding during courtship!

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The second most important stage of a relationship: Besottment


All relationships begin in earnest with what I call the 'besottment' stage which develops this important connection. Here is true romantic bliss; a joyful, spontaneous, passionate sensation of love. The attraction between the parties often feels so good they want it to last forever, and expect it to do so too. They feel energised, alive and filled with new dreams. Everything seems wholesome and affirming.

According to research done on this phase, it is not only your heart which is full of love but your whole body too, which is flooded with an endorphin called PEA (phenoethalymine). Like most endorphins, PEA increases energy, optimism, feelings of well-being and a positive outlook, and also diminishes pain. It increases sexual desire and allows you to skip meals and sleep. Naturally, as those good feelings coincide with the new relationship, you instantly believe that it is all down to this other person. They make you feel that way and bring out the best in you. In some ways you are loving 'under the influence' in a stage marked by great dependency upon each other. Though many people like this floating stage of love and getting that 'Wow" factor, many others do not feel comfortable with it because they believe they lose their control and depend too much on another person to feel good.

This second part of the honeymoon phase marks the transition from single status to a married one or being fully committed to a relationship. And it is a dramatic transition. It is full of romance, lots of it. Being 'in love' means that the sexual attraction and desire is often so intense, you literally become besotted! You might find yourself ringing, visiting or dreaming of your loved one, any time of day or night. You dominate her attention, constantly seeking her approval or affirmation. You are very optimistic about the future with him and nothing can go wrong, or so it seems. Most plans for a life together are made at this stage while the future looks rosy. The difficulties are usually minimised while the possibilities tend to be exaggerated.

You have found the perfect person and, even when you are irritated, the fun is more in the passion of making up than in the argument or discord. Regardless of what other people think about your partner, or might warn you about the transience of your feelings, there's a tendency to believe that they have no idea what they are talking about; that the experience is unique to you only and this fairy-tale period will go on forever.

The Need for Approval and Belonging

This 'besottment' stage is characterised by strong attraction, emotional excitement and heightened activity due to the apparent 'chemistry' between the two people. The greater the chemistry the higher the level of attraction. This stage is also marked by fantasies, possibilities and future potential making everything appear dreamlike, beautiful, fun and exciting. The main needs being satisfied here are approval and belonging. Your heart beats rapidly any time you see or think about this special person. You are totally absorbed with being in his company, constantly thinking about her actions. When you are together time seems to stand still, or run too fast.

Expectations are vague and diffused as the main purpose is purely sexual: to merge bodies and create another being. The quickest way to do that is to boost your partner's self-approval rating by matching their expectation of you; to be the willing and 'perfect' partner they seek. It was Zsa Zsa Gabor who said, "A man is incomplete until he's married. And then he's finished"! Well, this stage certainly finishes the individual, as compatibility with another is perceived to enhance the partner even further.

At this 'besotment' stage the relationship is viewed in an idealised manner because differences are discounted and faults are few. Details tend to be obscure and specifics are not discussed. The new couple tends to focus on similarities, always doing things to please each other, with the emphasis on how to fit and move together, almost as one. Being so besotted, mundane activities assume significant proportions, with every act scrutinised, marvelled at or assumed to have a personal message or meaning. In effect, reality is seen through rose-coloured lenses, soft-focus and deeply soothing.

Eager to please

Above all, you mould yourself to fit his needs. You may even fake interests or activities he is involved in just to keep this connection. You will make promises you will never keep to impress her, thus raising her expectations, but whose unfulfilment will help to destroy the relationship in the end. There will be tons of text messages, huge phone bills, continuous dates of eating, drinking and making merry just to be together and to savour each other's presence. In effect, you will have lots of strange emotions in a pot-pourri of excitement at all hours of the day, with an intense longing when you think of that person, one who might appear almost superhuman to your perception. That is why we are likely to be blind to their faults at this part of the relationship.

One colleague told me me that, in this heady stage, her husband used to accompany her willingly everywhere she went, especially to the shops, without a murmur. He just couldn't have enough of her company. He liked treating her to anything she wanted, getting immense pleasure from demonstrating his generosity and always had a surprise for her. Three years into the marriage, she complained that he just sat in front of the television every weekend like a slob, whingeing about how much money she spends on clothes and bemoaning the time she spends shopping! There seemed to be little desire to impress her anymore; no need to fulfil her expectations. Having bagged her as his wife, he was now more secure about her and this affected his perception of the situation. This also lowered his expectation of her while he ignored her expectations of him.

His behaviour might be disappointing, but not so surprising. At the 'besottment' stage, fulfilling expectations is essential for progress. We wouldn't get very far just doing what we like when we are trying to impress another person, so partners tend to be very cautious about saying or doing the 'wrong' thing in case it is not taken as expected. The chosen one is also the most important individual in the world at this time, the object of adoration and pleasure. Friends and family are likely to complain that they never see you any more.

Time for Taking Chances and Risks

Most important, at this stage, as you are blind to the person's faults – and looks – or consider them insignificant, heaven help the friend who passes an adverse comment about how ugly or boring they are! That is why it is often futile for parents to advise their children negatively about a new soulmate at this stage. This is the worst time to expect them to see what parents can see. The emphasis on romance in this phase allows you to take chances and risks. It nurtures a belief that 'I can do it' or 'Anything is possible'. The focus is really on a positive present – not the future, because that is still undecided.

Additionally, one person might begin to think in terms of marriage or commitment while the other isn't keen, and this could also herald problems. This stage leads, inevitably, to a regular dating regime, to marriage itself or setting up home together. Alternatively, this is where the relationship could end as perceptions change for the worse.

This besottment stage is extraordinarily powerful and tends to be terribly exhausting. Being emotionally draining and dependent upon consistent maintenance of its positive nature, it is difficult to sustain over too long a period and is thus guaranteed to be relatively short, lasting typically from two months to two years. As both of you are virtually living a lie at this time, not really revealing your true selves, romancing keeps you on your guard and takes up a lot of energy and time – not to mention money! What with all the courting needed and the pretensions of trying to be the same as your partner, it's really heavy going. Eventually you tire of living at such a heightened level and swiftly, or gradually, fall to earth.

How Do You Treat Your Relationships? The Tell-Tale Signs of Your Childhood Experiences


It seems that there is a strong connection between the way people were brought up in their early years and the way they treat their relationships. Many adults recalled that the quality of their interactions with, and attachment to, their parents as children was similar in many respects to the ways in which they responded to their partners their current unions.

In the 1980s, Hazan & Shaver found parallels between adult relationship styles and early parenting and infancy attachment styles. The researchers found three main adult attachment styles:

Type l. Secure: This person was close to their parent and displays an ease in entering into relationships, getting close to others, and trusting their partner. The mutual dependency feels right. There are lots of self-disclosures (53 per cent of the population). These adults tended to feel comfortable with new relationships and in expressing their feelings regularly.

Type 2. Anxious-Ambivalent: This person was treated in an ambivalent way by his/her parents, with sporadic attachment that breds insecurity. He/she tends to be preoccupied with love, and loves the attention and closeness, but is racked with jealousy and has expectations of rejection. They are likely to have a volatile relationship with their partner, often scaring them away because of too much jealousy and anxiety. They often expect the worst to happen and behave to match. Of course, it usually becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy (26 per cent).

Type 3. Avoidant: This individual is likely to have been brought up in a detached way from birth by the parents. He/she finds it difficult to get close to others and feels uncomfortable with close proximity or commitment. This leads to a lack of intimacy, suspicion and frequent isolation (20 per cent). Further research has supported these findings.

The implications of different types teaming up with each other are not difficult to see. A Type 1 linking up with a Type 3 would eventually be a nightmare. The detached person would not welcome the constant openness (my ex) while the expressive person would resent the introspection and secrecy (me!)

All relationships contain three common factors:
a. mutual understanding
b. giving and receiving support
c. valuing time spent with a loved one.

Securely attached adults are more able to provide those key elements than their more anxious peers. They tend to be more committed, more satisfied and have a longer duration in their relationships. Anxious-Ambivalent adults, who were deprived of parental attention or rejected as children in some form, have more swings (highs & lows) in their unions and experience greater stress when in conflict with their partners.

Avoidants tend to prefer casual sex, which requires little psychological intimacy or commitment, or no sex at all, while both Avoidant and Anxious-Ambivalent adults do not seek out similar adults as partners. They tend to go for either much younger or much older lovers.

Hidden Stages in a Relationship: Which one is yours?


Without exception, all relationships have stages. Even though everyone is unique, there is enough consistency in human action to demonstrate noticeable patterns in behaviour. It is difficult to put a time frame on their evolution, because that depends mainly on the confidence, maturity and aspirations of the people involved, but relationships have, broadly speaking, three stages: honeymoon, disillusionment and accommodation. Although more subtle ones have been uncovered, these three major stages apply in a consistent globalised pattern and, no matter what form they take, it is our expectations which define their outcome. If not fulfilled, this invisible force, which is dictated by our perception, tends to be the eventual killer of the best partnerships.

Being closely allied to achievement, expectation is not only more self-centred in its influence, it also affects the level of commitment brought by both parties and controls every aspect of behaviour in the partnership. For instance, 50 or 60 years ago, most people married with the expectation that their relationship would last a lifetime, hence the vow of 'For better or worse, till death us do part' – a commitment that was usually binding, and maintained regardless of the personal cost. This expectation was reinforced by a society which ostracised divorced partners and often stigmatised their children too.

However, the expectations of those times have changed significantly. Despite the rising divorce statistics, most people still look at marriage as a long-term, if not a lifetime, relationship, and few expect it to end in divorce. Most are also aware that, if all else fails, they can terminate the relationship without suffering the social consequences of yesteryear. These days it's the financial consequences which usually carry the sting.

As we all know, couples do not simply marry and live happily ever after, though we all wish that to be the case. Relationships evolve naturally, most passing from a state of euphoria to uncomfortable tension over the course of time. Influenced by life transitions such as childbirth, career achievement, retirement and ageing, each stage presents special challenges which threaten to undermine the union. But the biggest problem with any relationship is the overriding expectation that the chosen one will fulfil all our needs, be everything we desire and help us to be a success in our lives.

Exchanging Ideas and Information

However, individual happiness and development are our responsibility and it is not long before the truth is out and disillusionment sets in. Award winning author, Darryl James, echoes this point. "Unfortunately, many people believe that a relationship is all about finding someone to give you what you want," he said, "but a relationship is about an exchange of ideas and information; the exchanging of bits and pieces of each individual to form a sense of oneness."

So what has happened to change relationships from certainty to uncertainty?

Apart from key factors like the sexual revolution, the advancement of women both in the workplace and in government, the increase in financial independence and changes in institutional policies etc., the universal common denominator in behaviour, and the catalyst for changes in attitude to relationships, are the expectations within them. What makes expectation such a significant force is the way it dictates your attitude toward your partner and determines your treatment of him, while making you impotent in controlling his expectation of you.

Expectations reflect desires. When you live by yourself, you can fulfil your expectations easily as fulfillment does not depend upon someone else. But in any relationship there is a mutual sharing of love and you cannot determine how your partner will share that love with you. Hence why disillusion often creeps in soon after the honeymoon period. Her/His expectation is always a mystery, yet it is the biggest decider of the direction the union will take. In living with a partner, you not only have two sets of expectations to take into account, you also have to contemplate how each of your partner's reaction to those expectations will impact upon the relationship itself.

That is why, faced with all the growing resentment, partners soon learn to adjust to their expectations going unfulfilled and, in an air of resignation, simply accommodate each other's individuality instead.

The Main Problem Which Prevents Relationships From Developing


Did you meet someone recently, thought things might happen and everything fell flat? If we ignore the power of expectations to affect what we do in life, there is an unknown culprit lurking most times when a potential relationship fails to bear fruit: the way the developing stages are handled, whether rushed or complete.

In an age, especially in Western societies, when people have greater control over their lives, fall in love, and expect to live happily ever after, there is a lot that can happen between expectation and realisation, not least because of the clear stages that are involved in the fulfilment of any relationship.

There are five clear stages to developing a relationship: non-existent, potential, exploratory, short-term and long-term. The main obstacle to the formation of new relationships lies in how these stages are handled, especially trying to bypass the middle stages to get to the last one.

The five key stages are:

1. Non-Existent: The is the easy bit. The two people are still strangers to each other. They could be just seeing each other for the first time, exchanging glances or smiles across a crowded room, reading each other's profiles on a dating site and liking what they see, and feeling drawn towards each other in some way without really knowing why. The hallmark of this first stage is interest and curiosity. A desire to know more, though it may never move further than that if the situation, mutual feelings or aspirations do not allow it.

2. Potential: Strangers have turned into acquaintances because of the definite attraction that is felt by both parties. The main aspect of this stage is communication and conversation. There might be exchanges of emails, if the parties meet on a dating site, or just a friendly chat if they meet otherwise. There is a feeling of mutual comfort, the precursor of chemistry, but that would not be enough on its own to lead to the next stage. However, when there is potential for something positive, especially if the physical attraction is strong, the next stage is inevitable.

3. Exploratory: There is a definite friendship, warmth, interest, curiosity and accommodation between the couple. There is also likely to be physical contact too. This is where there would be lots of phone contact, for example, some dating, a desire to do activities together, to know more about each other, to seek out mutual alignment with one another and to establish how each other feels. There might be full chemistry (comfort, mutual value and excitement) on both parts, or only one person might feel it. Most relationships will flounder at this stage if the information, attitudes and activities revealed in the exploration do not align together. In that case, some people might continue to be friends while others will finish it there. However, successful exploration leads to a short-term liaison which many people often mistakenly believe to be long-term.

4. Short-Term: By this stage there is a definite relationship growing, though neither party knows how long it will last for. Due to this uncertainty, there is likely to be misinterpretations of its possibilities, or one person forcing the pace or even hanging back, if both parties are not feeling the same way. A short-term relationship is an unspoken trial one, provisional to what might be possible, where the signs are very good for the two people becoming a couple but there is one crucial item missing: commitment.

One person might expect this commitment (a key part of the final stage) to follow quickly before the other is ready, which is a recipe for disaster. A short term relationship is simply a different kind of exploration to test the possibilities of being closer together. However, this is where personal expectations, especially those which are not aligned between the two parties, would get in the way of further development. It is also where the most incompatibilities will reveal themselves and is accountable for the majority of failed relationships, mainly through dashed expectations and disillusionment.

5. Long-Term: These relationships have weathered the first four tricky stages and have established themselves on a more permanent footing. Their hallmark is commitment of the couple to each other. By this time, they would also have a greater understanding and appreciation of one another and are more likely to enjoy each other's company on a regular basis. This is a more expressive and trusting stage where the comfort levels would be pretty advanced.

Main Problem With the Stages

Often relationships falter because people are trying to short-circuit the different stages to get to the final one as quickly as possible. They are afraid to explore the possibilities sufficiently, afraid of 'getting hurt', and expect everything to go smoothly, especially if they like the person. They often try to get from No.2 to No.5 without going through 3 or 4, being afraid to explore too much or being too secretive with information. But if one ignores these critical stages, it means that all the learning process, the appreciation period and the mutual understanding gained in these moments would all have to be done in the long-term phase, which makes it a pretty painful process and which kills many marriages, in particular, after a relatively short time!

People tend to seek commitment in the friendship far too early, by wishing to proceed to Stage 5 quickly, and when it is not forthcoming they become disillusioned.

Yet, if each took the time to know and appreciate the other person, to give that exploratory or short-term stage due attention, they would have a firmer foundation for the final stage. However, most people seeking new partners tend to bring a lot of emotional baggage from their last relationship to the new one. They either expect the same hurt to repeat itself; they are fearful of what the other person might do, instead of allowing him/her to prove themselves, or they expect things to fall apart quickly and the relationship to fail. Not surprisingly, it does, because our attitudes and actions will always match what we expect.

The best way to ensure development of a new relationship is to come to it with a fresh and open mind. Leave the past behind, be positive in your expectations, allow the person to be who they are, and the stages to work themselves through in their own way. By being yourself and allowing the relationship to unfold, instead of trying to control or direct it, you will both gradually know whether you will be happy with each other or it is best to move on. However, if anything is artificially controlled, or the stages are omitted, there are likely to be unpleasant surprises waiting further down the line when you are fully committed to each other and least expect them!

3 Key Reasons NOT to go into a Relationship!


Many people go into relationships with the best intentions in the world then wonder why they still fail. This is because the dynamics of two people getting together follow certain patterns or trends, despite each person being unique. If those trends are not spotted and understood, we tend to keep repeating them over and over again.

The following reasons are the biggest culprits of short-lived relationships and should deter anyone from rushing in without thinking:

1. "Because I feel lonely."
That's the worst time to hitch up with someone else. We came into this world on our own and we leave it alone too. It means that for 24/7 we are going to have to get used to the person inside our heads and our bodies. If we cannot stand our own company for any length of time, no one else will find it attractive either. The first law of any successful relationship is for both parties to happy with themselves, feel happy with their bodies, to enjoy that solitude of being alone at times, for you to work out what makes you tick as a person so that you can spot what suits you a mile off. When you don't know who you are, don't know what makes you happy or unhappy and dread spending time on your own, that won't be endearing to anyone else. In fact, you are likely to miss what really makes you happy when you focus on others instead of yourself.

It is quite fine to feel lonely on odd occasions when we desire the company of someone else around us. Nothing wrong with that. But if we love company than we love ourselves, or feel lonely all the time that we are alone, there is an inadequacy within us which no one else can fill, no matter how they might try. It means that whenever that person is not there we will always feel lonely within ourselves and miss them even more. We should go into a relationship because we genuinely love that person and desire their company in our lives, but can take them or leave them, not because we feel lonely.

2. "Because he/she loves me."
No, no, no! If you are going into a relationship mainly because someone else loves you and it makes you feel good, but you don't love yourself either, that will be a short relationship in the making. A key part of the first law of relationships is that each person LOVES themself. When you both bring 100% self love to the equation, you are more likely to bring 100% respect, affirmation and appreciation too. There are many couples who primarily depend on each another for love and affection. That's fine in the honeymoon days. But wherever you have one person loving more than another in a friendship, there is the recipe for disaster in the making because you essentially have one giver and one taker instead of two givers. Both parties need to love themselves and each other equally. It means that should there be problems, and one person leaves the relationship, the other party won't feel too bereft and alone because their good feelings would not have been totally dependent upon the other person.

Broken relationships hurt primarily because one person is too dependent on the other party's love and affection. When that is taken away, the other person feels terribly rejected and unwanted. They are likely to judge themselves just by the yardstick of that partner and when he/she goes, it is a very painful and awful time for the one left behind. Once we love ourselves and feel good with us, when someone leaves us we will appreciate immediately that they came into our lives to share our journey, not to make it. When they leave, they would have taught us the lesson we were meant to learn and have moved on to continue their own journey. We would then thank them, grieve briefly and move on too, feeling better than before, not worse. By feeling really badly and rejected, we actually reject ourselves and the amazing people we are. Most important, we close off other opportunities to meet even better people later on while we hang back in the past in misery and victimhood. Any relationship should be based on mutual love and appreciation, not because one person is doing all the loving for both.

3. "Because she/he has money etc."
Never get into a relationship simply because of what a person has. Possessions should be a bonus that eases the path of the friendship on a material basis, but it shouldn't be the essential foundation for that partnership. A good test of why you are settling with someone is to ask yourself: If there was a flood, earthquake or any other natural disaster tomorrow that robbed us of everything we have, would I still be interested in this person? Would I still love and care for them? That's a most important question because you have to wake up every day with him/her. If all you can see are their possessions and not who they really are, that's a very weak reason for getting into such a relationship. Money and possessions might offer some material security, but one can easily lose a fortune or reputation in a day as gain it (Elliot Spitzer?). Would you stand by your gal or guy in those circumstances? If you wouldn't, then the best advice is not to go there!

Worse still, a relationship where money is the key factor makes it unequal from day one, giving power to the owner on an unhealthy scale: mainly the power of one person over another brought through wealth. The person on the receiving end might feel great at the beginning, being showered with things or pampered daily, but the mere fact that the money belongs to someone else brings it's own power pressures of one person always being beholden to another. Many people can exercise that power in a very insensitive way, using it as a very strong form of control. In those kind of unequal relationships, respect and genuine love are the last things that's likely to be found in them.

Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, for example? The minute she married him, her motives would have been suspect, no matter how much she 'loved' him. Now that the relationships was so short, and she has fought so hard to get a share of his wealth to which she did not contribute, many people's worst fears as to her reasons for the relationship would have been confirmed. Yet, I guess that the real power in that relationship would have been Paul, as he was the one with the main resources.

The best relationships begin with self-love, self appreciation and respect in both parties. It means neither party is dependent on the other to provide all the love and affection needed. There will be 100% contribution from both parties which is likely to nurture and encourage a much longer and more fulfilling partnership.

Understanding the Worst Part of a Relationship


Relationships have three distinct stages: Selection (the meeting and dating), Besottment (eyes and hands can't keep off each other) and Familiarisation (settlement and discovery), or the battle wills. The most noticeable thing at the start of this torrid Stage 3 (familiarisation), when the couple are really getting to know each other, is that the glasses have lost their rosy hue and are now crystal clear, with extra zoom lens added to focus on every tiny detail as the differences in each partner become magnified and appear far less attractive.

At times you seem to have so little in common, everything the other person does is wrong. Little irritations which were 'cute' before in Stages 1 and 2 are suddenly 'yuck' now and you wonder how you fancied her in the first place! You begin to notice that he is untidy while he notices that you're very stubborn. There is some pulling away from each other, a need for space, a chance to breathe, as life slowly returns to normal and your work, leisure activities or college commitments assume importance again.

That is when you might discover that you are behind in your project, or in the book you are desperate to write! He could also find out that his finances are in trouble – due to wining and dining you so much, or that he has missed important sporting matches and the antics of his football heroes, things he suppressed in the 'besotment' stage that you didn't even know mattered to him. But that is only the beginning as his real personality emerges.

Reality rapidly sets in, but a new kind which requires some understanding, acceptance and commitment from both parties. Your partner is now an extra person, perhaps with children in the picture. From where you're sitting, that means a whole new perspective, and perhaps a daunting one. How you cope with this new situation will dictate everything else in your life. This is the time for the worst part of any relationship: disappointment and disillusion.

Faults, Problems and Raw Emotions

With disillusion gradually setting in, as the expectations hit the wall, you suddenly see your partner as human. That romanticised notion, and the specialised vision you've had until now, crumbles away to reveal a real being, with real faults, real pain, real problems and real emotions. But often that is not what you are quite ready for. That reminds you too much of the real world and brings new anxieties. At such a time it is very easy to get on each other's nerves, which is an essential part of the familiarisation process, nothing special or unusual, and no one is exempt from it either.

But how we cope individually depends upon our expectations, our level of confidence and personal aspirations - the invisible forces we bring with us to every partnership. As someone once said, 'On the other side of disillusionment comes the real marriage'. This stage of remorse and regret builds the foundation upon which the couple can live out their chosen relationship, but first comes a lot of nit-picking and fault-finding as many expectations are dashed.

One reason for this encroaching anxiety is that chemical that affects your brains when you meet a partner (P.E.A), which helped you to become so loving, begins to decline. As you regarded the other person as the source of your good feelings, so you now blame her when you don't feel as good! Things you once liked about him now become sources of frustration and hurt feelings. It sometimes feels like love is dying. You begin thinking, or even saying, things like: "Is this what the rest of my life is going to be like?" while becoming apprehensive and adversarial instead of trusting and cooperative.

Sometimes it feels as if you are walking on eggshells because little molehills so easily turn into big mountains. Frequently, one or both of you will engage in blame, criticism, sarcasm and put-downs as anger and resentment build up. The key words here are "He used to..." or "She used to..." which indicates something of value is no longer there and is sorely missed. Moreover, even though you dream of intimacy and closeness in a relationship, once you actually have it, it can start to rub a little and small irritations add up to large ones. There is now a wonder at the loss of privacy and a yearning for it, but privacy is always the first thing to go once you move in together or formally tie the knot.

The Effect of Familiarity and Regret on Relationships


Two strangers setting up home together is not an easy thing and many people should be congratulated for getting past the first five years unscathed! At some point, about two to four years into a partnership (but it could be earlier, if a child is on the scene) disillusion creeps in. This is the beginning of the end for most relationships as they begin the downward slide to a break-up. That is why, if we allow the development of this stage to its ultimate conclusion, the average marriage in the UK lasts seven to nine years while in the USA it's only three to five years.

This stage usually has two parts: fierce tension at the beginning, to cope with constantly being around a new person and fulfilling their expectations, followed by a gradual accommodation as each partner learns to cope with the other. This getting to know you, or 'familiarisation', stage is perfectly normal, representing a sort of 'buyer's remorse'. Suddenly one morning, instead of just sparring with your partner, you'll really want to hurt them emotionally without understanding why!

This stage has a lot of emotional barriers relating to the 'baggage' each person brings to the partnership, so the key invisible destructive forces each brings to the union will remain just that – invisible – for a little while longer. But both people will be more relaxed because there won't be such a need to be on their guard or to be striving to please each other all the time. Boundaries will be tested as true feelings and personal habits are gradually revealed. While this bonding stage is more secure, expectations are higher and become more defined.

The familiarisation stage is the second most important one in the development of relationships. It brings the couple down to earth with a bang from the heady emotional days of romance. There is now a need for commitment, stability, individuality and, of course, power. Being together is based upon choice, not just need, which gives the couple unlimited time to get to know each other intimately. Familiarity brings its own rewards, as well as its problems, because this is the time when you learn that the superhuman, perfect person you've been with is just a human being after all. You almost have to fall out of romance to fall into real love – a case of ditching Superman and his warm protective cape for the more solid Clark Kent with his nerdy specs!

Regret at Being in a Relationship
The first part of this familiarisation stage can be likened to buying something on hire purchase you thought was fantastic. You admired the newness of it and loved its uniqueness; felt proud of calling it your own and showing it off to your friends. However, having eagerly used it day and night, it has lost its novelty, perhaps fading in its looks, suddenly seeming not as attractive as it used to be. This makes you resent having to keep paying for something which is no longer as beneficial to you. You yearn to stop paying for it, even to let it go, but you can't do that and, worst of all, you are reminded daily of your folly by its continued presence.

But regret at being married, or in a relationship, is a perfectly normal feeling because you miss the days of being single; of not having to think of anyone else; of having no dependent children or any demanding partner. You crave a time when you could be spontaneous in your actions and desires without being judged negatively for it. Above all, you miss the carefree, happy, bygone days without relentless responsibilities. If you have been married before, and were instrumental in breaking up that relationship, this is also the time for some guilt and angst regarding a kind of perceived personal retribution. Altogether, this period is really a very tough time.

Having been on a fantasy trip which excluded everyone else in the 'besottment' stage, you do not yet know what reality means for you both. You have rapidly moved from being two single people to a closed item – as well as having all the relatives to contend with, which is an entirely new and somewhat scary situation. But this is the stage when you are likely to discover much more about each other. This is also the 'possessive' time, when each party asserts his/her personality in a bid to demarcate territory, to secure personal space and to feel comfortable with any new arrangement; the time when responsibilities are allocated and individual tasks emerge on gender lines.

Competition and conflict are likely to develop as expectations assume importance again but vie with one another for fulfilment. However, they are likely to be thwarted in the face of subtle resistance as both the reality and limitations of the situation combine with other invisible forces to gradually dictate outcomes. In this heated phase, couples learn how to accommodate their differences and to deal with the honesty and openness which are now an integral part of the union, but it will not be easy. Yet no long-term relationship can survive until that accommodation takes place, and many couples never reach that stage because this familiarisation phase will either make or break the new relationship.

How Differences in Gender Development Affect Relationships


Our life is a journey from birth to death and so we have to evolve from one point to reach the next. Adult evolution is one of the silent killers in many unions, the chameleon which changes quietly from one form to another while partners are not even looking, or prefering not to acknowledge its presence. It scuppers relationships in the end, without any kind of warning, because our aspirations at the beginning would have given way to new ones years down the line which are often at odds with those of our partners.

The first time we are likely to become aware of this deadly change is when we realise that we have reached the next emotional or intellectual stage in our life and there is no one there to greet us. Or the person who greets us bears little resemblance to our partner, one who has completely changed in attitude and/or appearance. This is because we are developing all the time, a factor we do not really take enough notice of until it leads to a complete change of perspective and forces us to see those close to us in a different light. Additionally, our spouse could either have gone ahead to their next pit stop (to put new knowledge, new partners or new stimuli into action) or would be still stuck at the last stage, unable to keep up with us, ignoring the changing times, while being wedded to the 'good old' ways for comfort and security. That is when we realise that something is missing from the relationship, which we are unlikely to recover until that person has resolved his/her own issues.

All this is not surprising. From a basic level, adult gender development is almost diametrically opposed. Women tend to lack self-belief when they are young while that is the most prolific time for male aspirations and belief in their own capabilities. Most men tend to be brash, bold and career-oriented at the start of their adult development. They put timescales on their achievements, often wanting to be 'a millionaire' by the time they are 30! With so many successful peer models at the highest achievement levels to encourage them, they see the world as their oyster and they cannot wait to get at the pearl within it. They do not worry about female advancement at that stage because they believe they are in charge, in every sense of the word: in charge of their life, their work, their women and their world!

Search for Perfect Partners
Not surprisingly, men underestimate the obstacles they'll face in getting to that elusive 'million', and are bitterly disappointed when the dream does not work to plan, hence the likelihood of a mid-life crisis. They are also at their sexual peak during this early stage, the romantic chase and hunt often being more stimulating than the actual catch in the bid to prove personal virility and emerging manhood. This is where they are likely to have many liaisons, averaging three or four months in each relationship, while they search for the 'perfect partner' or the 'right' mate.

Lacking essential role models around them, women are not as confident at this early age, being less aspirational and more vulnerable. In their desire to be appealing and accommodating, women tend to suppress their talent, emotions and expression so as not to put off potential partners or to appear too brassy and bold. Instead they might play 'hard to get'. The imposition of conflicting gender norms also robs women of their confidence and keeps them in their place. Society condones the perception that men may sow their proverbial oats at every opportunity when they are young, but women must not have a sexual history.

That's fine for a temporary fancy, but they have to be almost virginal to be accepted as permanent wives! Any mention of too many partners, suitors or intimate encounters and a young girl is instantly regarded as a 'slapper', 'slut' or a willing 'mattress'. In some Asian cultures women are not even allowed near men after puberty until they are safely married, so as to avoid any shame on the family through intimate contact.

In the workplace, any show of corporate ambition or career aspiration in a woman is also regarded as 'pushy', 'aggressive' or 'unrealistic', while those traits are greatly valued in young men. This means that men have an automatic platform of aspiration and personal validation denied women in the early stages of their adult journey; one that reinforces their perceived worthiness for the achievements ahead. In fact, if you look at any descriptive profiles of serious, successful men, it will always be about their talent, impact and achievements while profiles for women, written by men or the media, will relate to their looks, clothes and social behaviour!

In short, it is about male intellect and power compared to female looks and attitude. The onset of equality may be slowly changing the gender landscape in the Western world, but it will take a little while to reverse society's insecure, limiting and unequal perception of talented women.

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Are Some E-Magazines Getting it Wrong in What Their Readers Want?


I started on my Internet freelance writing journey by building up a following on Ezine.com. It promises to give you lots of publicity, but no money, for your writing. I thought that, with the Internet being new to me (I had only written for print) I would ease myself in gradually and develop my freelance reputation that way. So free publicity it was, and the site was darned effective. Online publishers could have a maximum of 25 articles from Ezine per year. Seemed reasonable to me.

Six months down the line, I changed my mind about the publicity when I saw a huge website proudly boasting 80 of my articles, surrounded by glorious Google Adsense, and not an exploitative conscience in sight. Obviously making a fine living from my efforts, with not a penny for me. I was told by Ezine that I would have to chase after them myself. But that is not really on, otherwise what is their policy about? I stopped writing for them immediately and joined Newsvine soon afterwards.

However, I was just reviewing my work on the site, and what had happened since I stopped submitting articles, when I noticed something very interesting. The articles that the online publishers were most interested in taking for their readers were not the articles the ordinary readers were apparently interested in!

For example, my top five articles on the site were as follows:

1. Why Do Some Men Cheat? 18,618 since it was written
(also the most emailed and the most clicks to my website)

2. The True Meaning of Respect 10,607
3. How to Recover From a Broken Heart 7,653
4. Should You Have Sex on The First Date 5,894

5. How Do I Make My Man Love Me? 3,639

As you can see, apart from No.2, all the articles deal with relationships, that little bugbear that affects our lives daily; the angst and pain of loving someone that is always haunts us; the anxiety of unrequited love or the feeling of rejection and anger when we are betrayed. It is all there in the titles. But what are the top 5 that the online magazines have taken? So far, nearly 10000 magazines online have taken my articles (jeeeps!) and these are the most popular for them:

1. Can Men and Women be 'Just Friends'?

2. How to Recover From a Broken Heart

3. What You Must Have to Be a Millionaire

4. Understanding the Real Causes of Ageing

5. Birthday Thoughts: 59 and Counting

Apart from the first two articles, nothing else matches. Yes, there are always people interested in getting rich, and there are far more older people in our world now who are also worrying about their age, but relationships is where it is at in our modern world. The goal posts have changed, old traditions are proving useless and people are unsure of how to treat each other, so there is lots of fear and bewilderment. People are seeking new assurances about relationships because they feel inadequate in dealing with them.

But these online magazines don't seem to be addressing those concerns in nearly enough measure. They are still back there in the land of cosy nests and undisturbed connections.

Mmmmmm....Is someone trying to tell those magazines something and they're not listening?