The "There's Only You" Phase .
You know, at first, there is all this love and pleasure, we enjoy each other immensely, the sex is great, we find ways to spend lots of time together. All we want to do is spend time with our mate. Pretty much everyone loves this phase, we feel so close and loved and merged with our partner. We are in what psychologists call the "oceanic love" phase of the relationship. It last six months or so, then we begin to move out of that phase.
The Me / Us Phase.
We can not stay in the "There's Only You" phase. No one can, however much you think you want to. We have to get on with our lives! The next step can be called the "me / us" phase. In this state we start to separate a bit as a couple and get back to our own goals, purposes and projects. We start to deal with our individual needs instead of just "whatever, as long as we're together." We want the toothpaste to be rolled up a certain way, spend time with our own friends, and we want to watch our tv shows, not just the ones our mate enjoys.
This phase is normal and natural, and its also where a lot of relationships start to run into difficulties. The small fights that often grow bigger start here. Arguments about "you do not spend enough time with me" and "why are you so cling-ey?" tend to arise, along with feeling like we need our own space or that there is too much space. We wonder why we did not see these issues before and we worry about our long term compatibility! A lot of relationships break up during the year or two of this phase, because we miss the oceanic love phase, the close merging / loving that we felt during the start of our time together. We tend to think our partner is either not good enough / compatible enough, or that they do not really love us anymore. Something is missing, and we either blame our mate for "losing interest" or ourselves for the extra ten pounds we've gained.
One thing to remember during this phase is that it is important for each person to get on with their goals and interests. That way you can each bring a fulfilling life to your relationship, rather than always try to get fulfillment from the relationship. If we do not separate some from the oceanic love phase, we'd end up as a cling-ey merged mess. A key to thriving during this period is to support your mate in getting their needs met. Support their interests and goals and work efforts, and ask them to make allowances for what's important to you as well.
The Companionship Phase.
The third period of relationships can be called the "long term companionship" phase. If we've survived the me / us phase, we now are settling into companionship routines. What do we do together as a couple? What do we enjoy apart? What is expected from us by our mates and are we okay about this? Do we enjoy the quiet times with our partner or are we still looking for never ending fireworks and deep conversation from our lover? Stretch this period out over years, and we often feel like the love is mostly gone, we're just going through the motions. Our lover can become more like our roommate. The hot passions of the oceanic love phase can become a distant memory.
So, given these relationship phases and the obvious issues that go with them, how do you keep the love alive? How do you keep the passions between you thriving, just like in the early days? Well, those are good questions that we all often end up wondering as we settle into the routine of work and family and kids. The first simple answer to this is that you do not. You do not try to keep the There's Only You phase going. It was there for a while as you mated, it helped you to merge and form a team, now its gone and in its place is the potential for long term partnership. It will not have the same emotional bliss that you felt when you first fell in love. If you stop trying to get that back, you've made a good first move.
Another great thing to focus some time on as a couple is play. Have some play in your relationship every week, do a date night, do some things that both of you enjoy as a couple. You do not need to play all the time like you did in the beginning, but you do need to play some to thrive as a couple!