THE BLOG

Redefining the Cycle of a 'Traditional Relationship'

08/09/2013 06:38 pm ET | Updated Oct 09, 2013

A lot of people might agree that the best part of a new relationship is the beginning. It's in this area of raw vulnerability, lust and love feelings that sex is explored, bodies are explored and personalities are accessed. It's also true that some might call this the "honeymoon period," because according to the traditional cycle of relationships, this eventually fades. Couples who start out having passionate, frequent sex eventually move in together, adopt a dog, start talking about getting engaged and the sex goes out the window. The vulnerability, openness, mystery and newness begin to die off and what's left is two people, sleeping on opposite sides of a giant bed, fantasizing about sleeping with other people and finding one reason or another not to go on vacation together, go on dates or anything else that was once so enjoyable.

Maybe the relationships continues to work for a while because one party (or both) is too scared to either say how he or she really feels, or actually make the move to leave the relationship in search of a deeper connection to self and/or another person. Perhaps some people are the "lucky" ones, and this doesn't happen and instead, that flame of burning love and passion still continues to go strong. But according to statistics in this country, I am going to disagree and say that isn't usually what happens.

So this brings up the question. Why even continue to take part in relationships? For many of us who are in our 30s and not married, at this point we have all been in at least a dozen or so relationships and are more than willing to move into another one just as soon as the sting of the last one has had some time to heal. Sure, we all have baggage from past relationships which may or may not have included engagement, marriage, shared dish sets and silverware, as well as the parenting of pets or even children. It can be argued that human beings are simply not meant to be monogamous or not meant to follow restricted lives that say who we can and can't have sex with. Maybe after this "honeymoon" has worn off, we simply follow the concept that if we choose someone new, then the feelings of love and newness will come back. People can do this four times or 400 times, but often times the cycle just repeats itself and leads many of us into relationships that we will just deal with since, "It all ends up the same anyway."

As a 30-year-old woman in a brand new relationship, I have a bit of a biased opinion at the moment. I am one year out of an engagement that did not work out and more than willing to be open and vulnerable with someone new. I am currently in the throws of passion, willingness, depth, connectedness and all the mushy new emotional stuff that comes with the beginning of getting to know someone. Butterflies are at an all-time high, every quote or song speaks directly to me and the sight of my new friend's name in my email inbox or text message inbox makes me smile with crazy happy eyes. And as someone who has been in and out of my fair share of relationships the past 10-plus years, I am pretty clear at this point on what works (and what doesn't work) for me in relationships.

And all of this has me thinking that maybe not every relationship has to fall victim to this "traditional cycle." What I am beginning to see is that there is a deeper place that we can all go with our partners, if we so choose and if we allow ourselves to be fully seen by the other person, without any walls up or emotional baggage wearing us down. The baggage is there, the past has happened and there isn't anything any of us can do about it. Instead, it's how we handle it. I could walk around telling myself that because I "got hurt" in my last relationship, it's not safe to open up and love and trust someone again.

Or, I can tell myself that because of the last relationship ending, and because I felt so hurt when it did end, I now have the ability to be even more self-aware and allow myself to go to places that weren't possible for me in the past. I was too scared or too young or too inexperienced to fully allow myself to walk off the edge of any boundary or label or mindset and just let myself love and be loved. The truth is, that's always available. That place is always there for us to go to, and if it's the "right" person at the "right" time, it can be amazing. No one has a crystal ball and telling the future would ruin all the fun anyway. Sure, it's scary to look deeply into someone's eyes and see who they really are, but the thought of not doing that with someone I love scares me even more. The layers are going to either come off and create a deeper connection or they're going to keep piling on and eventually come between us. For me, the answer is very clear.

A lot of people spend time searching for the "right" person. They have a list of wants and needs, ideals and deal breakers. I admit I was one of those people. I wanted everything and had a list to prove it. But when I was least expecting it, someone came into my life who didn't fit anywhere on the lists. In many ways, what he had to offer was something far and beyond anything that I ever thought could be possible for me. Is this person "the one" for me? I have no idea. I actually am not even sure that I believe in that way of thinking. I do think there are people in this world who are "supposed" to meet, in the sense that at one point, they will run into each other and meeting will become an option. And what I am beginning to see is that "making relationships work" might actually just be an illusion. I think that many of the same issues are present in almost all relationships and it comes down to just being willing. In my last relationship, I was not willing to go to those places of raw vulnerability because it never felt right, even after five-plus years.

In some ways, it doesn't matter how long the relationship is or was but it's much more about the level of willingness for both people. And if this is the case and both people are "on the same page," all of the other stuff doesn't matter because time will just continue to move on and effortlessly, and so will the relationship. The dips and cycles and all of that are all part of the ride, but if at the base of the foundation is a sense of honesty and openness, the relationship will not reach the stale area in the cycle because the cycle will have been redefined. I know that relationships are changing and evolving and though some people prefer to hold on for dear life to the traditional style of how things used to be, I do believe that is why divorce is so popular in this country. If we can all just surpass all the things that don't really matter and move into something unfamiliar and excitingly scary, then possibly we risk coming out on the other side with a whole new perspective.

In the end, it doesn't matter if people end up moving in together, getting the dog, getting married, having kids -- doing it all. The relationship will withstand anything that comes its way if two people are connected and honest. Life will happen, time will come and go and in some ways our hearts will change, but our hearts will also stay the same. "Keeping it alive" does not have to mean expensive vacations and trips and fancy dinners. Maybe the key to all of that lies in how far we are willing to go within ourselves to connect with another human being. In all honesty, what do we have to lose at this point? We might as well all step outside of the box and try something new and less ordinary. It's just like George Addair says, "Everything you want is on the other side of fear." At the end of the day, the way we connect with someone else is just a reflection and projection of how we connect with ourselves. Love yourself fully, open up to yourself, see your own beauty and be ready to be blown away when someone else sees it, too, or you see it in someone else.

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