Deceiving Others. This is what the world calls a romance.Oscar Wilde
Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.Maya Angelou
Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.Anais Nin
Why do humans want and need love so much?
What is love to you? To some people, it is complicated, elusive, dishonest, prison-like, to others it’s the only thing that makes their world go round, the only thing that matters.
The truth is probably somewhere in between or neither. To me, love is really about soul recognition and spiritual growth, something which much of media and the society never really portrays.
Humans desire and want love mainly because we are such social creatures. We desire the company of others, we want to be desired, cared for, attended to. We want someone to grow old with.
Some of that yearning is also biological, evolutionary – we feel attraction for someone and want to pair-bond for social connection and to reproduce and ensure our species has continuity.
The other part of it is, in my opinion, societal programming. We are made to believe that we need and want and desire love. That love is the only way through to human connection (hello friendships and platonic relationships of other kinds!). We have been led to believe that if you do not fall in love or secure a “partner” or get married or something of the sort, that you are a failure.
In much of our media, movies, music etc – you see and hear anything and everything that has to do with romantic love and not much else.
So why do humans want and need love? Well, it’s very much still a mix of biology and external programming.
Are you able to point out red flags on dates/in relationships? Find out below!
Why are romantic relationships so complicated and hard in today’s society?
BUT. With the turn of the century and the modernisation of our society, love, courtship, dating, romantic relationships and the likes have taken on a very different sort of look.
With the introduction of online dating, apps and with people becoming increasingly more isolated with less face-to-face interactions, the dating scene has been absolutely absymal the past couple of years. This sad state of affairs looks like it’s gonna continue.
People do not seem to know how to behave on dates or how to treat others despite the plethora of information available and the amount of education we’ve gotten over the years.
This is due to several factors but I will highlight two key ones here.
#1 We don’t know ourselves well enough or deeply enough
Run a survey with your friends and colleagues, ask them what are their values, needs, wants – in their own lives and in romantic relationships. Don’t be surprised if the majority of them aren’t able to give you good or satisfactory answers.
Whenever I’ve posed this question to a friend or client, I will watch them stumble and stutter, unsure of what their values are and what they are looking for in a partner. Others will throw in superficial “needs” like having the same hobbies or looking good/being wealthy.
When we do not really know ourselves, our wants, needs, desires. When we are not tuned into ourselves, we do not know what our boundaries, dealbreakers, red/green flags are etc – how would we then be able to discern who is the right fit for us romantically?
Anybody we “vibe with” or have “positive feelings” for will be a potential partner. When we do not know ourselves well, we will not have good judgment when it comes to dating or vetting potential partners because we do not know what we should be looking out for.
#2 Don’t date consciously and don’t vet potential partners well
Another issue which is sort of connected to #1 is that many of us do not date consciously. We are not looking out for the right things. We are way more bothered about who is footing the bill, where we are having the date, how we look on the date/how do they look etc instead of paying attention to what they are saying and how they are behaving on the date.
We get led on by sweet talk, flirting, sex, looks, promises of an amazing love down the road (future faking), material goods, money etc.
When we come across shitty behaviour – ghosting, breadcrumbing, future faking, love-bombing etc, instead of running away, we pay the person more attention and over-analyse their behaviours.
We should be more mindful of who we are entangling ourselves with when it comes to romantic relationships, who we are sharing our energy and time with. “Letting in” the wrong person into your life can take a huge toll on your mental health and emotional well-being, drain your finances, your life-force, your everything.
Being conscious about your date and knowing at which stage of your relationship/date you are at, and what to look out for at each stage is absolutely essential.
But how do you begin to do that if you’ve not done it before, have never been taught and don’t know what to look out for?
Enter the Re.Lish Love Model
In my own journey through figuring out my SELF in romantic relationships and on dates, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are several clear stages in the stages from when you first connect with each other all the way til life-long commitment.
There are certain behaviours and actions that accompany each stage and when done in the “right” way, you are able to proceed onto the next stage with alot more ease.
I’m not saying that your love life will be perfect or that you won’t meet people who will make you want to give up on dating or love altogether, but that knowledge of these stages, the associated behaviours/actions/checklists if you will, the things to look out for and the red flags will be much clearer to you.
You will finally know what exactly you are supposed to be looking for on dates and not just be subjected to “going with the flow”, your feelings (which are usually heightened when in love and on dates and as a result, not very accurate).
STAGE 0: CONNECTING
This is when you first start to chat or text or you are just starting to get to know one another. So there is alot of flirting, texting and talking. Ya’ll are just feeling each other out. You’ve probably not met up yet or have yet to make plans to.
The biggest caution here is that you guys don’t actually know each other very well yet. You are perpetually strangers, so be careful of how much emotions you are investing in this person and beware those fantasies.
Don’t try to fast-forward the relationship and be careful of future-faking behaviours. Be grounded.
STAGE 1: ASSESSING
This is when you guys actually start the dating process. You are meeting up and trying to get to know one another, sharing about yourself and so on.
This is also not a stage where you should be letting your guard down and feeling emotionally invested in this person. Your date is still a relative stranger and the information that you’re divulging to each other is still on the superficial end of things.
Beware love-bombing and over-eagerness as well as feeling overly intimate too quickly in this stage.
Treat this stage like an actual interview stage where you are still asking each other fairly simple and superficial questions and there is alot of impression management here. Things feel very nice and easy.
The key here is to be yourself, but keep it nice and chill. Do not overshare or over-divulge too much of personal information at this stage.
Observe and vet and beware red flag behaviours! Feel things out and look out for signs of basic incompatibility, your intuition/gut usually knows.
STAGE 2: BUILDING
You are still discovering more about each other, going on dates. There’s reciprocal behaviour and the beginnings of intimacy and vulnerability. You are getting closer to each other. There is a deepening commitment and exclusivity.
However, do keep out for red flag behaviours and incompatibilities, as this is the stage people start to gradually reveal their real selves, their thoughts, values and attitudes towards things start to become clearer.
This is when you are actually in a “serious relationship” or are in the beginning phases of one. Real intimacy begins here.
STAGE 3: UNFOLDING
You are deepening the intimacy even more and committing to a future together. There will still be adjustments and you will still be finding out about each other. However, the dating “mask” and impression management would have fallen off at this point.
You may be discussing things that have to do more with big-ticket items like shared finances, buying a house, marriage etc.
One thing to watch out for in this stage is the stagnancy and sense of lull that can creep in. Because you aren’t on much of a “look-out” anymore, you will have let your guard down and be less “vigilant” for toxic behaviours.
STAGE 4: COMMITTING
This is the long haul. Sometimes people here end up splitting up because they’ve grown apart, or they cannot see eye to eye on big ticket items, they have been working on differences for a very long time and it hasn’t been working out. Etc.
I always vouch for watching out for red and green flags at every stage and there’s no difference here. But also, find ways to always go back to the love that you feel for each other.
It’s very easy
A NOTE: Some couples stay in different stages for differnet lengths of time. For eg, some remain in limbo in stages 0 and 1 for a long time (this doesn’t mean you are in a relationship). Some remain in in the later stages for a short time as they have already built their dynamics to a stage where they are pretty sure they are in it forever.
Each couple has its own dynamic and the relationships move along at different speeds.