By Zola Ndlovu
Like consumer goods most romantic relationships have a lifespan. We hook-up then we break-up and then we start the cycle again. Our relationships are transactional instead of being committed and reciprocal.
The similarity between the business product cycle and the hook-up break-up cycle is uncanny!
For each of the stages I’ve described the characteristics of the ‘Hook-Up Break-up’ cycle and compared it to what relationships should look like.
Check it out and tell me what you think!
Stage #1 Development
Characteristics: testing, research, identifying needs and wants of consumer
This is the initial stage of the relationship where passions are high and reason is nowhere to be seen. When you’re at this stage you’re putting all your effort into studying a person, what their likes, dislikes and interests are, so that you can market yourself well to them. You’re keeping your cards close to your chest because you’re still testing the waters to see if they’re interested in you. You’re not risking everything yet.
The thing is, most people are testing the person for the wrong thing. You’re checking for chemistry when you should be checking for character.
The development stage is when the crush is most intense
You’re acutely aware of the other person and can’t stop thinking about them. Your view of them is unrealistic and there’s nothing they can do wrong. You’re constantly discovering new and wonderful things in that person that have you falling deeper into the crush.
What it should look like:
Intense feelings are normal at this stage but it’s important to recognise for what they are: just feelings. Don’t read too much into things; strive to keep a clear head. Also, study the person for character! Is he kind and generous, does he have integrity? Is he arrogant, angry or superficial? This is your chance to observe a guy before you’re in too deep.
This is the stage where you should be initiating a friendship with a person, initially in a group because that’s much less scary. Also, you’re less likely to do something silly like try and kiss them. Be patient at this stage, focus on establishing a friendship and don’t put the horse before the cart. Keep your emotional and physical boundaries in place.
Stage #2 Growth
Characteristics: increased popularity, marketing and advertising still high.
In a lifetime a person will have multiple relationships that die at the crush/ development stage. A significantly smaller number will progress and make it to the growth stage. At this stage you know your person a little bit better and some of the initial giddiness has worn off. But you’re still marketing yourself heavily because you haven’t reached the stage where you feel like your relationship is fully ready to take the ‘real’ you.
At this stage in a relationship emotional and physical boundaries are difficult to enforce because you really want deeper intimacy with your person.
Growth can happen slowly or rapidly
If it’s happening rapidly then this is the stage where people start sleeping with each other. Big mistake.
The reality is that a large percentage of people who are in relationships (even professing Christians) are having sex with each other. At this stage in a relationship emotional and physical boundaries are difficult to enforce because you really want deeper intimacy with your person.
What it should look like:
If you have serious doubts about this guy at the development stage then you shouldn’t even progress to the growth stage. Cut him loose. If you like what you see (character-wise) then this is the stage when you move from just friendship and you move towards intentionally getting to know each other one on one.
At this stage you need to enforce your physical boundaries. Don’t sleep with each other. You also need to have some emotional boundaries according to the level of commitment that you have. No friend-zoning.
Establish what you guys have in common and whether you share the same passions, what direction you want to go in life.
If you’re a Christian, then you’d only get to this stage with a guy who shares your beliefs and values. You should be growing in spiritual intimacy first before you start diving deep into emotional closeness. Establish what you guys have in common and whether you share the same passions, what direction you want to go in life.