It is generally understood that, just like other relationships, so romantic relationships too undergo changes or are subject to a dynamic. Unfortunately this dynamic appears - in a great number of cases - to be of a destructive nature to the two parties involved. In the extreme case, we might be dealing with an abusive relationship whereby the perpetrator as well as the victim are destroying each other without being able to grasp the dynamics of this process. However, this paper is not concerned with issues relating to unhealthy relationships but will attempt to present a three stages model towards a healthy relationship.
This paper divides the dynamics of romantic relationships into three stages. The first stage is called The dating stage, the second The other stage and the final one is called The partnership stage. For each of these stages benchmark criteria are developed which provide a safegard not to fall into the traps of a destructive relationship.
The dating stage can be roughly seen in the light of two partnership seekers who will exchange information about each other. Here, the importance is placed upon respect, equality and honesty. During the second stage, whereby the potential partner can be described as The other, is concerned with the process of getting increasingly involved with each other and safeguarding against invasion and potential abuse. While it is necessary to adapt to each other, controls have to be in place to ensure that this process does not destroy the lifestyle of either people, but enhances both their lives. The partnership stage and final stage addresses issues of conflict resolution and maintainance of intimacy and respect.
This paper proposes to move away from concepts such as Love at first sight and True love towards a realistic process where the success of the partnership is viewed as the measure of love and not some overblown sexual attraction at the onset of the dating stage.
Dr. Ludger Hofmann-Engl