The abundance of dating reality TV, highlights that looking for love is a major priority for most Aussies. Anything from getting married to a stranger to dating naked, men and women are willing to go to great lengths to meet ‘the one’.
However, given most of us will not end up walking down the aisle on a first date, what are the more regular milestones you can expect on the dating scene in 2018?
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The many phases we go through when finding love – or our ‘Relationship Lovecycle’ – is a process with recognisable indicators of where we are at on our journey to finding long lasting love. While we often follow a traditional path, we all know in the game of love, sometimes those pathways involve several twists even wrong turns along the way. Jacqui Manning, relationship expert and psychologist at eharmony shares the five stages of love.
The ‘Spark’ Phase
In the early days of meeting someone we look for the ‘spark’, or that chemical reaction that tells us we would like to be more than platonic with this person. According to recent research by eharmony, one in four of us will share a cheeky kiss on the first date. However, never fear, if you do not end up locking lips on the first date or feel that instant attraction, it does not mean you will not feel butterflies or that flirty feeling at a later stage and it does not mean you can’t still be deeply compatible. Trying to figure out if you have similar values and personality traits in the first few dates can be daunting, which is where online dating platforms can help. You’re matched with people you’re naturally compatible with, so you’re free to focus on the fun part – figuring out which of your matches you have chemistry with!
The Honeymoon Phase
This period describes the time – usually three to four months for most people – when you are getting to know each other, having (hopefully!) lots of fun exploring life together and working out whether you would like this to become a longer-term partnership.
Try to be yourself in this phase, and be open to the idea that the relationship is going to make it. This way you will feel comfortable being you – the funny you, the daggy you, the affectionate you, and let them see different facets of you. It’s the only way to work out if you’re a great fit, and if you’re not then you’ll likely know by the end of this phase.
The Intimacy Phase
Once you’ve both worked out you’d like this to be a solid relationship, don’t panic if you haven’t heard those three little words. Being comfortable enough to say, ‘I love you’ varies from individual to individual so don’t take it personally, just be patient and know that if they didn’t feel the connection the relationship wouldn’t even exist. After all, for some, ‘being yourself’ can take on a whole new meaning when that involves a bottom burp (yikes!) in each other’s company! Remember that intimacy does not mean sex, it means the connection between you is being strengthened and you’re getting to know each other’s beliefs, values, fears and wishes at a deeper level.
The Commitment Phase
According to eharmony’s research, many Australians (45%) take over a year to get engaged, married, pregnant, buy property together or open a joint bank account.
This seems sensible given these life milestones mean that you are weaving your world with someone else’s in tangible ways, so you want to be sure you trust them and you’re taking your life in a direction you both want.
If it is not happening for you in that time, relax, as many people take much longer than a year to take these steps. That said; remain honest with your partner about your desires for these goals.
The Heartbreak Phase
Sometimes relationships do not work out and this is understandably painful. It is very tempting in our busy world to distract ourselves from pain, and we have more ways than ever before to do so, especially with social media. However, a healthier approach to overcoming the loss is to grieve for your heartbreak effectively. This means crying (yes, ugly crying will probably happen!), journaling, and even taking time out to sit with the pain and discomfort so that you feel lighter more quickly and less likely to take reservations into your next relationship. Learning from your heartbreak is also possible – what did you contribute to the relationship dynamic that you might change next time? What qualities are you looking for in a partner that your ex didn’t have?
We gain perspective and learnings when we have had some time and space from a situation, so take the time for these to come into your awareness so you can go into your next ‘Relationship Lovecycle’ feeling more enlightened about yourself and what you’re looking for when it comes to love.