This morning I had an interesting conversation with one of my best-friends. She has recently started to “hang out” with a new man. She is enjoying the beginning stages of a relationship, feeling the anticipation of him call or texting, and generally glowing as she reflects on all of his positive qualities. As I was listening to her speak, I recalled all the times that I had started seeing someone knew and how exciting it was. It was as if the “new” person was flawless.
As I was listening to her continue about her excitement, I couldn’t help but start to ask her questions about the experiences she was having with this man and how it connected to experiences in her past. I really wanted to know what she was carrying into this situation that was different than her prior dating experiences. I was curious to know if her past relationships had created any transformation in her, that would now allow her to attract a different personality, and hopefully create a long-lasting successful relationship.
She told me that she was not trying to define this relationship (as of yet) and that she was trying to stay in the present moment. She stated having that mind-set removed a lot of anxiety and made it easier just to enjoy his company. She even shared a conversation that she had with him. Recalling that he had asked her, “what are we…are we dating.” Her response was, “we are at the just getting to know each other stage.”
I thought to myself, “wow-she must really look attractive to him, and not a desperate woman looking for a man”. Then I thought to myself, “how long will she be able to go without wanting to define the relationship.” I guess this goes back to the question, “what stage of the relationship are we in?” Certainly the “getting to know you” stage is exciting and a time of investigation, to see if you want to enter into a deeper relationship with that person. So we discussed further the issues of values and long-term compatibility.
Is it possible to be compatible in certain phases of the relationship and less compatible in other stages? Take the player…he is a great “phase one” master, but has no emotional or commitment muscle for the long-term. Or perhaps the “family guy” isn’t always the best at dating and may be a little nerdy in the beginning, but becomes wonderful if you give him the chance. It seems as though each stage of a relationship is unique and requires its own set of rules. Generally if a relationship continues it gets redefined through these many phases.
As my friend states she’s in the “hanging out” stage, the first stage in getting to know each other. Then there is the “dating” stage, which may or may not be exclusive. If you miss the non-exclusive stage and move right into exclusive dating, then you will eventually enter the serious commitment of engagement stage. This is also another definition of who you are to each other and who you both are to your social community. Then the ultimate stage of commitment would then be a public acknowledgement, whether it is a ceremony of union or marriage. Once again, this redefines the relationship with each other and to other people. So, I wonder how long my friend and her “hanging out” partner will go before he asks again…”is you is, or is you ain’t my baby?”