Understanding relationships

Sat, 06/30/2012 - 12:02 -- amber

It´s been a long time since we stopped thinking about a universal definition for a couple, and while this has many advantages, it sometimes gets confusing to read what each partner expects.

Imagine the following scenario: You meet a guy at your office, he asks you out, you have a wonderful first date and start going out regularly. Somewhere around the third date, perhaps, you have started to share passionate kisses. By the time of the 10th date, you think might be falling for him. When you hit the 30 dates mark, you already have a clear desire for spending as much time as you can with him, but while he is just as kind and romantic as the first night, he appears to be quite comfortable with the dating scheme and doesn´t seem in a rush to start seeing you more often.

It works the same way around for a man who is dying to spend more time with a woman, and even if they have a great time together, she just seems to prefer seeing him occasionally. These kind of situations can be extremely puzzling, not only for the one member of the couple who wishes to spend more time together, but for the other person as well, who will be aware of the expectations in their partner and will be concerned about the impossibility to fulfill them at that time.

And the case described above is just one among dozens of different situations of doubt, of questioning if your relationship is working both ways. Since we cannot describe all those different cases, let´s take a look at some general concepts that might help you to understand the diverse manifestations of a romantic bond.

Intimacy

This is a key first concept. Any romantic relationship needs to be intimate, if you want to have a real connection (beyond physical strings) with your partner. However, intimacy is not a synonym for romance; it only refers to the feeling of proximity you share with a person, that is built when thrust and communication are present. You can thus be intimate with your mother or your friend, for instance, and only some particular bonds of intimacy with a specific friend may take romantic significance. If you started dating someone you really like, but you still don´t feel too comfortable around them (or the other way around, for that case), then perhaps you need to be patient and wait for intimacy to grow between you two.

Romantic love

One of the many different meanings in the expression romantic love, is the one that understands it as a love interest built only upon emotion. It can be a really passionate kind of love, but the problem if you take an emotional approach to a relationship is that your partner can´t possibly have the exact same emotions as you, and unless you find other ways to communicate with them, things are likely to fall apart. If you experience a deep romantic love, you might think you can make up for the emotional difference between you and your partner; you will be more caring, more expressive, more understanding… but the truth is this will only in your own eyes. Because at the same time, you will be wanting to spend more time with your partner and placing loads of pressure on their shoulders with all the attention you give them. What´s worth, you might be jumping into a really deep love emotion when there isn´t a solid intimate bond between you two.

Companionate love

It sounds awful (companionate rather than romantic?) but this kind of love is what works best with the complex nature of relationships nowadays. It´s based on communicating with your partner in a passionate, emotional, intellectual, and intimate level, all at the same time. This is of course nothing that can happen naturally: loving someone in all his or her different levels is a decision, which you build after the initial sparks of spontaneous attraction. If you truly manage to communicate with your partner, then you will understand if their concept of relationship is compatible enough with you… it just can´t be a perfect match, but if your feelings and thoughts have some common ground, you definitely can make things work.

The really wonderful part about giving this complex process a try, is that once you´ve come to feel this kind of love, you will not feel the urge to spend more time with someone, or to make up for the expectations you do not share: you will be conscious that your attraction can take many different forms and doesn´t have to stick to conventional relationships. All that matters is that you have fun and that you believe in what you are doing.

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Amber Hoffman

I am writer and editor at Bedroom Stories online magazine, writing about sexual relationships and better understanding our lives. Feel free to contact me at [email protected]