Relationships were so much simpler when we were kids. We would go ask someone “do you wanna be my friend," he will give you the answer and that was it. It was that simple! The problem is that level of sincerity and genuine communication get’s a little complex with social norms and expectations. In our adult life, we will engage in numerous types of relationships and will meet a bunch of interesting people. As a general rule, we will attract the type of person we are and will have a similar lifestyle. We will eventually accept what we feel we deserve. With this in mind, we have to be very cautious in understanding what kind of relationship do we have with those around us.
The first issue is to actually understand what kind of relationship we are in. Although this seems like a stupid question, many couples struggle with this issue. There are several kinds of relationships but here are some of the most common types:
There is nothing like getting to know your partner before starting a romantic relationship. This is something that unfortunately has faded away over the years. I hardly see roses and chocolates among our youth when they are trying to hook up with someone.
A "wazzup" or "damn you're fine" unfortunately does the job at times. What's happening to our society that does not value the true friendships and courtship before a relationship begins?
So many people complain about having trouble finding "the right one" yet they keep looking for the same type of person. The first step to a successful romantic relationship is to have the time to have a relationship prior to this. Getting to know someone without any sexual contact allows you to evaluate whether the person has the lifestyle, habits and overall stability you need or not. "Does this mean I shouldn't have sex right away?" NO! If we are interested in moving forward to a more serious relationship we should get to know the person better. This is also the perfect time to get to know the person's family and friends without any bias.
2. Casual relationships
These are relationships in which the couple does not precisely have any commitment to each other. The term “friends with benefits” is often used for this situation. This sounds like an incredibly convenient arrangement for most people, but is this really a good idea or not?
This type of relationship can be a double-edged sword. We tend to use this arrangement when it’s convenient only. The main thing with this type of relationship is the NO COMMITMENT agreement. We can’t have it all!
If you chose to be in a casual relationship it means that you are willing to let go of that person when the time comes. "Does this mean that I shouldn't get jealous if my friend with benefit is talking to another person?" Of course not! In fact, a casual relationship should not impair the person from finding, establishing and maintaining a serious relationship.
3. Exclusive relationships
This is the stereotypical boyfriend & girlfriend situation. This is the type of relationship in which a couple decides to be exclusive with each other and are willing to engage in a committed relationship. Although this sounds very serious, an exclusive relationship is the one that helps us figure out if we really want to stay with a person or not. Here are some things we can keep in mind while evaluating an exclusive relationship:
Do you like your partner’s morals & beliefs?
Are your personalities compatible?
Do you have alike plans for the future life (i.e. children, family and professional goals)?
Are you comfortable with his/her income?
Are the lifestyles compatible?
Could you hang out with your partner’s family for the rest of your life?
Do you like your partner’s cleaning habits?
Are you both ready to commit at the same time?
Do you like his/her appearance and fitness level?
These are just a few things we have to keep in mind during this level of relationship. There are times in which the person is great for you, yet he/she is not ready to commit at the moment or we think we can change them over time. Things like “He promised he’ll get a better job once we live together” “She’s not gonna listen to her mom once we get married” “I’m sure I can persuade him to have kids once we get married” are some of the common things people struggle during this stage.
Remember that an exclusive relationship is ultimately a filter for the next level.
4. Formal Relationship
A formal relationship is a more stable relationship in which all the above-mentioned things have already been filtered and tested. In other words, you really know you want to be with that person for the rest of your life and are ready to jump to the other side of the fence. This is the perfect time to begin establishing a better relationship with the in-laws, begin sharing more personal details of our financial life and begin establishing a stable and joint lifestyle. Sounds like a sweet relationship to be on huh? The main issue with this relationship is timing. One person can be ready to say I do and the other one is not. This doesn’t mean that the other person is not ready (although I don’t think none of us are); it’s just that your timing is apparently not synced. This is a time to test more formal problem solving and communication skills that will last a lifetime. The goal for this stage is to be able to openly discuss our thoughts, ideas, and issues without any preoccupation. “Should I ask him if he is going to propose?” The answer is yes! (but not a week into the relationship!). Although these are touchy subjects, we do not want to be in a relationship in which we are preoccupied with asking our partner what their plans and thoughts are.
Relationships can be very complicated, but they do not have to be a headache.You will have a chronic headache if you are constantly trying to change him/her and will probably not succeed. Every stage of a relationship is important; therefore, we should enjoy every single part of it.