Insights on how you can effectively manage the beginning of a relationship.
In many cases, the start of a romantic relationship sets the tone for the rest of your time with that person. As fickle human beings, we are able to discern the importance of our relationships early on. One might observe a relationship as serious, while the other person sees it as a mere fling.
Let’s face it. Men and women approach relationships in two very different ways. Sometimes, men approach it less seriously, while the woman is searching for commitment. Conversely, it can work the other way with women being more cautious.
The Impress Me Stage
One of the primary ingredients for success in these situations is accommodation. The temptation to call it quits in the beginning is quite real when there is a dissonance between two individuals. After all, if you want a commitment, then you want to commit to someone who feels the same way.
A common mistake, however, is falsely assuming the values of the other person. The beginning of a relationship is typically referred to as the “impress me” stage (usually the first few months). That is when we attempt to fit ourselves into the idealizations of someone we like and are getting to know. During this stage, we tend to be more reluctant with deep and personal information, and we try harder to impress the other person.
There are dangers to how we approach this inevitable stage. For one thing, making conclusions about your partner can be a detriment later on. If you put the person on a high pedestal, they may not be able to live up to those standards later on, when you actually get to know them. The same goes for you. Presenting yourself in a false way to impress the other person will eventually unravel.
This is all to say that the beginning of a relationship can be full of accommodation, but it must also be replenished with honesty and discernment. Too much information early on can set a negative tone. For example, venting all of your mistakes and skeletons too early, though honest, sets a tone of regret and tumult that will be difficult to overcome. Discerning what is appropriate to reveal early is key.
I recommend that when you do have these serious talks, you layer them with “silver linings.” Let’s say you had an addiction at one point in your life. When you reveal this to your new partner, couple it with the positive that came out with it, which could be the lesson you learned about having a close support group of friends.
Generally speaking, we get to know a person pretty well within the first 3 months of a relationship. If it seems like the other person has values and relationship goals that vary quite differently from yours at that point, then it may be time to move on. Accommodating too much and ignoring warning signs is unhealthy for long-term relationships and may lead to serious issues.
For more information on having successful relationships, consider seeking a professional couples counselor.