Navigating the stages of a relationship can be full of excitement and uncertainties. In one moment (the so-called honeymoon phase) you cannot live without them and then in the next moment you are wondering if you are right for each other. The culture of modern society has also made things difficult, where instead of building and growing together in mutual love, respect and understanding, we quickly “cancel” our partner when we disagree or see their weakness.
How do you know if he or she is the one? How do you know when to take things to the next level? Am I the best person for my partner? Are they the best person for me? Are we compatible? These are some of the questions you may find yourself pondering over during dating or courtship.
Here are my top five reflective questions after the honeymoon phase. Whatever your answers are to these questions, they may provide you with some clarity on areas to improve on in your relationship and how to move forward:
Think of attraction as the magnetic pull between a couple. It is essential for any romantic relationship to grow and for couples to be and fully enjoy the presence of one another. Now that you know the person well, do you feel attracted to them? Are you attracted to them physically & to their personality? Do you enjoy their presence? What about them do you really like and what are some areas you could work on?
Love is probably an overused word and many times it is hard to discern whether it is true or not. I think when we say we love a person, we ought to sacrifice ourselves for their ultimate happiness and wellbeing. That is a very costly price to pay and can be hard when it is not a two-way street. Only the person who says it truly knows its validity and whether it has any meaning. Now that you have been with this person, lived and/ or experienced the highs and lows of life with the person, seen their strengths and weaknesses, do you love them? Are you committed to love them, both by choice/decision and romantically? And most importantly, do the contents of your heart, your emotions, your mind and your actions agree in love? What areas can you improve?
3. Intimacy & friendship
Intimacy can mean different things to different people, but overall, I think it is that sense of closeness and deep connection between people. Now that you have spent some quality time with the person, do you feel connected with this person – heart-to-heart & mind-to-mind & body-to-body? Do you feel your heart, mind, emotions and your life is open with each other, including your values, the things that are important to you, vulnerabilities, fantasies, dreams, hobbies, behaviour, attitudes, prejudices, thoughts and opinions? Are you able to, without fear, share everything on your mind and heart with this person without fear of judgement?
The ability and skill to see and feel things from the perspective of another person can be quite difficult. This is probably the root cause of many conflicts. Understanding one another is complex because we all come from different cultural, philosophical or religious backgrounds and life experiences. It takes patience, humility and an open mind to master this skill. Having shared and made important decisions with this person, experienced conflicts and differences in views and behaviour, do you understand each other and willing to accept them as they are and willing to compromise with this person and sacrifice for this person where necessary?
We are all growing, may be not in stature but in knowledge, wisdom and experience. The person you know today will probably be a different person tomorrow. But you can learn to grow together as a couple and be on the same page in the things that matter most in your life. Now that you know this person, do you feel you are growing into a better person? As a couple, are you growing in attraction, love, intimacy/friendship, understanding each other? Are you both committed to growth?
What to do if your answer to all these questions is a BIG Yes! Well, you’ve got to move on to the next level but with wisdom. As you already know, these questions are not exhaustive but a place to start a great conversation and some great action plans.
What to do if your answer to some of these questions is a NO or Not sure! I would suggest you take things slow and really get to know each other, have open conversations with your partner to identify areas of improvement. I would also recommend seeking some good counsel or advice from trusted role models, therapists and counsellors.
Written by A. Amankwaa