Can you remember the first time your body responded to the presence of a person you were attracted to? Do you remember the physical arousal? The emotional scintillation? The mental distraction? Do you remember smiling at the very thought of that person?
Interestingly, these seemingly benign reactions could be signals or warning signs to keep one out of harms way. The reactions that seem innocent could prevent hurt feelings or angst of rejection. The reactions are normal; examine them. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about the other person?
How can one be certain feelings are reciprocated? Can one be certain the scenario is not a “friend in your head” relationship or that one isn’t “leading you on?” Initially, the rightness, wrongness, or the intentions of the suitor are somewhat elusive. In most cases you cannot ascertain levels of sincerity. Integrity and fidelity are character traits that surface as a relationship develops.
What do you look for? How do you know if the person is worthy of your time, attention, and trust? Along the way there will be behaviors that indicate trustworthiness, faithfulness, and follow through. These enduring qualities last after beauty has faded and the effects of gravity are unveiled.
Do you yearn to discover the good and the bad about the other? Does the “mystique” remain? Does that certain je ne sais quoi continue to attract, allure, and intrigue you? Are you so turn’t up you cannot stay away, but you cannot go away either. Interesting feelings…
Be willing to honestly explore an unfolding relationship. Get involved, get invested, or get out. A healthy relationship cycle might unfold this way:
- Attraction. You are drawn to each other, “you have chemistry.”
- Infatuation. You like each other, you are fond of each other.
- Affection. Exchange of affection—touching, hugs, holding hands, kissing.
- Conflict. Disagreement, discussion, argument.
- Resolution. Settle disagreement(s) and make up (Green, 1999).
The phases of the relationship cycle are repeated and a stronger relational bond can be built. Skipping phases only stalls relational growth. Passing through the crucible of resolution rather than taking the route of avoidance can yield information about levels of compatibility and coping abilities.
As one becomes more infatuated, grows more passionately attracted, and discovers new areas of conflict, the relationship grows in levels of intimacy—emotional, spiritual, and physical. Healthy conflict resolution versus conflict avoidance helps build a strong relational bond. Generally speaking, after several rotations of the relationship life cycle, the tenor of the relationship can tend to be comfortable and accepting for both parties. However, differing desires can create tension and conflict.
A wise old woman is quoted as saying, “Girl, men don’t marry. They mate. You have to help a man find the altar.” Do not mix your metaphors. According to The Holy Writ, it is better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Corinthians 7:9),
In a word, dating is a horse of another color. Sometimes the rules are not clear. Uncertainty can shroud the purpose of the relationship along with wavering levels of commitment. Oftentimes such instability creates confusing signals.
What guidelines do you have for your relationships? Are you willing to play house or hard to get? What is your current relationship status?