For most of us love swings into action in a jet set tempo. A whirlwind tour of some distant exotic island. Filled with red hot intensity, with wild episodes of passionate sex. The spine-chilling sensation of discovering someone new is mind boggling. I would like to refer to it as the preliminary stage or the stage of euphoria, where each of you think he or she is the last man/woman on earth. Every word, every touch, every glance seem like magic.
The sheer presence of this person creates a tornado and you are at the vortex. With time however, the intensity mellows. You get to know each other – warts and all. You see sides of the person which you thought never existed. Where is the epitome of perfection ? It is exactly at this stage where most of us go wrong. Because we are looking not only for the right person, but the PERFECT person, a near impossibility. Just look at yourself first. Are you perfect ? no one is on this earth. Sooner we realize this, sooner we stop chasing a mirage, a pipe dream.
Consider this scenario. You have met the person who fits your choice completely. Not only do you find this person physically attractive and a sure turn-on, but intellectually too this person gives you meaningful company. Thus to use this cliché, you have fallen head over heels in “love”. One fine day, the “near perfect” god-sent person starts to annoy you. You find out to your utter dismay that this person has no sense of personal hygiene.
His/her erratic ways, something which you found extremely “cute” is actually extremely dirty. His/her underclothes, wish you never saw them. His/her dresser, makes you wear a mask because of the stink, you turn away, every time he/she opens his shoes, because the sole pair has now a couple of holes in it. And worst of all he/she keeps the toilet open without flushing it !
Enough is enough. Gradually, other flaws get magnified. What about his/her behavior in the presence of other attractive people ? Was there a bit of serious flirting that you noticed ? What do you do under these circumstances ? What action does it demand ? Dump and run for life ? Well, to make a personal view, I don’t think you ought to do that. Yet.
Though these may look like extreme examples that I sighted, but believe me, these can be true also. When we first begin to notice the flaws, the deficiencies or the unexpected becomes expected, we shiver. Many relationships end here and proceed no further from this point. A much-chased dream gets shattered. The romance fall apart like a house of cards.
But if you accept that no one is really perfect, and you too might have certain shortcomings which are abominable also, then you don’t give up. You graduate to the next level of the relationship, with newer challenges as newer horizons open up. A brand new level of intimacy, which is more matured can get trigger after this first crack-down of illusions. Many of us just clam up at this stage, or we resort to anger and irritation. Some of us just vanish and run away into oblivion. If you decide to follow these steps (often may be cowardly), then sorry, you are missing out on a golden opportunity to get elevated to the next grade in the relationship.
Euphoria in any relationship can not be a permanent occurrence. Or it would not be called euphoria in the first place. When euphoric love ends, there begins another phase – the phase of seeking permanency in the relationship. You suddenly ask questions like, can I live my entire life with this person ?
Will she remain exactly the way she is now? Do I want children from her ? How will she be as a mother, and more such. These are very important steps in life for any one. Along with the questions therefore, also creep in fear and insecurity. Very natural thing to happen again. But this whole thought process often throws us off gear, as we were not prepared to face so many questions before.
Quite a lot of us, read too much into this fear and presume it’s a signal of our unprepared ness or an indication for us not to proceed any further. This is because, the moment we start thinking about a person who will feature in our lives very prominently, we become over-cautious and more critical in our views.
While we think and re-think, let us also not ignore the good sides of the person, which made us to come to this stage in the first place !
Learn to enjoy this phase of the relationship – which is replete with possibilities and opportunities. Last but not the least, remember this word “Love” means life-long commitment, a difficult proposition for many. It is a process by which we learn to love ourselves, the person who we are sharing our life with and others around us.
In case both of you decide to carry on with the relationship to walk towards permanency and commitment, remember, this is the most critical time. Love can not survive without adequate nutrients. Its like that little sapling, which can only grow with the help of food and water.
As Erich Fromm wrote in The Art of Loving, published in 1956, “The art of loving is like any craft. It requires patience, confidence, discipline, concentration, faith, and practice daily.” The only thing in life that is constant is “change”. Relationships are no exception to this rule., As it changes, it grows, ripens and becomes more stable, weather-beaten and strong.
Maturity in any love does not occur at the press of a button. It takes years, passes through numerous ups and downs, traverses many rivers and oceans before a person can have a “mature” love for another person. Your priorities, in order of preference should be love thyself, then your partner, and then your family.
By Joshua Goh
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