So today I was talking with a friend who is going through some relationship woes and I made the comment "Everyone should follow my roadmap." He wanted to re-read it and so I sent him the link and re-read it myself and decided it would make an awesome sermon… so here we go.
Stryse’s Roadmap to Love – Newly Revised
Look, this was written more towards relationships between two men, so its largely worded that way, but the principles behind it apply to any relationship, same-sex or opposite-sex, male or female. If you’re straight you may not be aware, but gay men (and maybe gay women but what would I know of them?) have this annoying tendancy to rush their relationships and then cry over it when it blows up in their face. There are a lot of reasons why they do this, but if they truly want an enduring, meaningful relationship with someone, they should slow down and enjoy the process. It’s half the fun of having a relationship.
The road from meeting someone to spending a lifetime is broken up into five stages, each of which builds upon what came before it. I have some ideas of appropriate timelines for the stages, but where those are expressed understand that they’re merely guidelines. Don’t move into the next phase until you’re good darn and ready.
I’ve put this together based on my own experiences in love and it has served me well on the path to finding a life partner. Unfortunately I haven’t always communicated this as well as I should have and that’s led to conflict, so it led me spell it out in this format.
This is the roadmap:
As you see, I have broken it up into five chevrons. What follows is an explanation of each chevron. Get ready, this could bring about a radical change to your world view.
Chevron 1 – "Friends"
It starts with one. You’ll note that the word friends is within quotation marks. This is because friend is a word much like love. Its meaning is a continuum, not an absolute. In truth, I have very few friends: i.e.. those people I’m actually close to and share a mutual involvement in one another’s’ lives. The true friends in my life are like my pack. So the word friends is used loosely.
In the context of a relationship, where romantic love has a possibility, the "friends" phase of the relationship is the starting point. This phase begins when a mutual interest in one another is expressed. It is the phase where we determine the nature of the relationship we desire with one another.
There are three possible outcomes for this phase:
1) A romantic interest is found and we move on to the second chevron.
2) A true friendship is born, but without any romantic involvement
3) We are acquaintances only. We recognize one another out in the world and may or may not acknowledge one another in the process. All we can really say is that we know one another but there is no meaningful interaction.
Chevron 2 – Dating
Step 2 of the Roadmap is where you have both expressed a romantic interest in one another. This is when you are actually dating one another. It’s called courtship and its different from spending time with friends.
In this phase we being opening ourselves to experiencing an emotional connection to the person we’re seeing and start laying the foundation of our relationship with them. By the end of this phase we should have a solid understanding of what each other expects in a relationship.
There are two possible outcomes to this phase:
1) You fall in love.
2) You don’t.
If you fall in love, you move to the next Chevron, and if you don’t, you move on. Maybe you stay friends with the person, maybe you don’t, but you do stop wasting each other’s time pursuing a relationship that isn’t meant to be.
The dating phase should last a minimum of six or so months. The purpose of dating is to see if you really like this person to make them part of your life. Do you like them well enough to start making commitments to them? If your goal is to get laid, stay at the first chevron. If you want a casual thing, stay at this chevron. If you want something meaningful, continue.
Chevron 3 – Boyfriends
If its phase three in the relationship than that means you know that you love this person and you hope that they love you back. Of course if we’ve made it to phase 3 than that love you feel has already been mutually expressed.
The mantle of boyfriend is not one to take lightly. This is point that actual commitments to one another are being made. Woe to any who would make such a commitment lightly.
It is only in the third chevron that one should start having any expectations of their partner. Until now its been casual and fun, but at this juncture things are now serious. The first, and foremost, expecation you should have is one of communication. You tell each other what is going on in regards to the relationship. This is this phase that you start exploring your compatibility for life-long partnership. If you’re to a point where you both consider each other to be your boyfriend, then you should fully expect you’re both in it for the long-haul. If there is a fight, its not going to be the last you speak to or see each other. This is were we drop all facades and show our true, unedited selves to one another. This is where the relationship becomes "serious."
Two possible outcomes:
1) You find out you’re good together as a couple
2) You don’t and part ways (in whatever manner you agree on… maybe you settle for being friends, maybe you don’t want to see each other again). This option would involve some heartache as there is an emotional attachment that is being severed.
This phase should not be rushed. I’d say a minimum of a year or so. No matter how much you think you know someone, you don’t know them after a few nights together. Life takes a bit longer to give you situations where you can see their true colors. In all honesty, you will learn far more about someone by observing how they handle life than they will ever learn from what they tell you.
Chevron 4 – Live In Boyfriend
In the past, this is the step that seems to get me into trouble more than any other, because the people i’ve been with seem to confuse this stage, with the next one. Don’t make that mistake. This is an important stage in getting to our end-goal of what some people call "wedded-bliss". Think of it as the final test before taking the ultimate step in a relationship.
At the fourth chevron, we know we click well with our partner. We’re great together and quite happy in our relationship and find ourselves ready to take the next step. We decide to live together. Either you move in with them, they move in with you, or you both move into a new place together. You live with one another, sleep in the same bed every night together, and wake up each morning to find the love of our life laying there next to you. You see each other at your best and worst because you reside together and can’t hide it.
Understand, however, that there is a difference between living together and being "married" to one another. Assuming I was proposed to, I could not say yes until I had already experienced what life was like having you around day in and day out. A successful long-term relationship must at some point explore what its like to live with one another and see each other when we haven’t had time to prepare for each other’s company. This phase teaches us a lot of things we just can’t learn living apart and truly tests our commitment and compatibility with our partner. We learn a great deal about each other’s character through their daily behaviors.
There are three possible outcomes:
1) Successful cohabitation.
2) You determine that while you still enjoy one another and the relationship, you’re just not ready to handle life in the same home. So you revert back to the third chevron until such time as you’ve resolved whatever the problem was and you’re ready to give it another shot.
3) We decide that we’ve seen our partner’s true colors and the person we thought we were in love with just isn’t "the one" for us and we part ways. You might end up hating each other after this phase, but in general my experience is that I do consider the ex to be a great person, but just not the right guy for me to spend the rest of my life with. Hopefully if you find yourself here, you’ll have the same revelation. You shouldn’t be this far into the relationship if the person you’re dating is a terrible human being anyway.
My dad said live with someone for five years before marriage, and I generally agree. If you really are going to spend your lifes together, waiting several years for the commitment ceremony is a small thing. You’ll be glad you did anyway because there is little you won’t know about your significant other after that amount of time together… and it would be rather unusual any "marriage" would fail.
Chevron 5 – "Husband"
This is it. You are convinced that they are "The One" or "Mr. Right" or however you want to phrase it. Your love for each other has become so strong, so pure, that the loss of your parnter might well result in death by a broken heart. That is how strongly you should feel for each other at this phase. At the fifth chevron, we know without any shadow of doubt that we will be at each other’s side until the end of time, or we both should perish, whichever occurs first. You know that you can depend and rely upon each other for this and that you can comfortably grow old together, there is no fear that you’ll end up alone when you’re past your prime. Life apart is incomprehensible and you really have no idea how you made it so long without this person there.
This is the equivalent of marriage whether you go through the formal institution or not. It is that level of a relationship that, no matter what happens in your lives or between you, we will always remain together. You’ve learned how to resolve conflict between you, and there isn’t much of it anyway. It is a sacred commitment you make to each other and no longer are you two people, but one.
It is a commitment that I will only make once.
You may note in the graphic, I left this chevron open. Perhaps there is something higher in the afterlife, or perhaps the relationship can evolve in this life beyond even my considerable imagination.
That, dear children, is my roadmap to love. Take your time with it. Love is a process, not something you pick up from a convenience store. Lasting relationships are built brick by brick, not bought premanufactured.
Frankly, if you don’t take the time to enjoy each and every one of these little chevrons… I can almost guarantee you that you will not ever get to the fifth with someone.
So says Stryse.