Give yourself and your relationship the right kind of attention


Romantic relationships require different things at different stages… Most people are not aware of these stages and even less that what the relationship needs evolve. Additionally, the partners have different needs themselves as the relationship progresses and as life unfolds… To treat all of this as a static phenomenon is highly ineffective and dissatisfying in all. Give yourself and your relationship the right kind of attention.

In a nutshell, there are 3 stages of relationship according to Harville Hendrix and Hellen Hunt’s Getting the Love You Want:

~ The Infatuation Stage
~ The Power-Struggle Stage
~ The Conscious Stage

In each of these stages, the partners experience each other very differently, and how they choose to show up and invest in the relationship determines its success…

Some partners are naturals at being in relationship and hardly notice that they are investing in its success. They just invest in their relationship, their partner and their love.

Yet others, consider relationships an enigma. They struggle finding a partner, keeping a partner, and/or creating a radiant and successful relationship.

Of course, most people and most relationships fall somewhere in the middle of that range.

Regardless, they all go through at least the first two stages to varying degrees…

STAGE 1: The Infatuation Stage

In this stage, the partners meet and they fall in love. They are attracted to each other because a there is a sense of familiarity and comfort about each other…

This is when they show up with their social mask, showing what they believe to be socially acceptable, how they believe they should be in a romantic relationship, and what the other might want… They show up with their best foot forward, they do all the nice things, and give all the time and attention…

This is where the Love Cocktail starts coursing through the body, that makes the partners want to spend as much time with each other as possible, can’t but think of each other, have a hard time sleeping and eating, and experience other disruptions to life as they know it… Though it feels amazing, this natural high is not sustainable…

Eventually the partners need to get back to regular life, and they want to share that with their newfound blessing. So, they make a higher level of commitment.

They decide to be exclusive, then to move in together or get engaged, then possibly get married.

Depending on the nature of the partners and what they’ve created so far, each higher level of commitment can be triggering…

STAGE 2: The Power-Struggle Stage

Once the partners start making higher levels of commitment, that’s when they enter, and revisit, the power-struggle stage. The higher level of commitment invites them into a twilight-zone of sorts.

Where they feel so comfortable and familiar with their significant other, that the unconscious mind gets a little tripped up. It can no longer experience their partner as this other person that they love, but rather experiences them as an aggregate of their own caretakers growing up… 

Any unresolved issues, wounds, sensitivities, internalized messages and believes, and such are part of this equation…

So, when the partners are trying to create their new life together, they both want to make sure past hurts, disappointments, frustrations, and limitations don’t repeat themselves…

They are both on the lookout to get their own needs and preferences met… Which are usually in conflict, they are seemingly in opposition, because of the nature of the attraction in the first place! Have you heard that opposites attract? Exactly.

This creates the power-struggle… They partners get stuck trying to be seen, heard, valued, appreciated, and getting whatever else they need above all else. Otherwise, they experience a sense of existential death… As this is too painful, the partners keep looking out for themselves first…

They might not even be aware of this- even those that “sacrifice themselves” are still doing it for themselves… Ouch!

At this point the relationship can be so painful, that it might not make it. Sometimes the partners figure it out enough that they minimize the pain making it tolerable to stay. They still struggle though, and question the relationship and the partnership from time to time…

Then there are others, that decide they want to have a radiant and successful relationship and that are willing to put in what it takes to make it happen. Yay!

STAGE 3: The Conscious Stage

As soon as that decision is made, the couple enters the conscious stage. They now know that their relationship, its status, and its flavor is a choice.

With this comes a sense of freedom and empowerment, for then the partners can create anything they want…

Investing in learning more about the nature of their power-struggle, how they loop and recreate dissatisfying patterns, is key. For understanding what is driving their dynamics helps them be proactive at addressing the root causes, healing and reprogramming as needed.

It is a gorgeous and satisfying investment that creates a deeper and more meaningful connection between the partners. This is the first step in creating their epic love affair. Bringing intentionality into their interactions, their lifestyle, and their collaboration in a magnificent culmination of the expression of their love.

What’s needed at each stage

As with anything for something to thrive it requires tending…

The Infatuation Stage – To enjoy dating and progressing to seeing each other and then to going steady (like that language? LOL), the key is to show up as authentic as possible… This is the time to be open, vulnerable, and passionate. Show all of you the best you can. This doesn’t mean sharing your darkest secrets, fears, and tribulations on the first couple of dates…

Get a sense for each other first. Then you can share your history more in depth… Without knowing your heart, your details might be scary to the other… In context and with your essence anything is surmountable… Keep it light and fun, but super authentic.

The Power-Struggle Stage – Once you start moving into more serious territory, you will find that you will start to experience conflict. Such is life. This is the beginning of the power-struggle. So don’t get too serious too quick. Learn each other a little more before you jump in with two feet. Once you start experiencing conflict, know that this is actually a wonderful thing…

Conflict is happening for you (so you can continue to evolve), is not happening to you… Recognize your pattern in there if you can (or get help!), and bring a ton of compassion for yourself and the other person. Armed with curiosity, resilience, and compassion you can start creating a conscious relationship…

The Conscious Stage – Just making the choice to address your patterns, makes you a conscious person. Woot! Bring this understanding to your relationship. Share what triggers you without blaming the other, without making them responsible or wrong, without putting pressure on them. It’s not their job not to trigger you.

In a more committed relationship being intentional at not triggering each other and compassionately addressing triggers when they do happen is how you create a sustainable and wonderful relationship.

And, working at meeting your own and your partner’s needs on a consistent basis is how you heal and reprogram yourselves making you less triggerable in the first place.

At each stage there is a specific focus that when tended guarantees more harmony, peace, joy and love in your life.

To your happiness and successful relationship.


WATCH THE COMPANION VIDEO! Yourself Up to Succeed at Your Relationship on YouTube

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Wishing you all the joy, connection and love today and always…

With Much Love & Light!


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   Copyright (c) 2023 Emma K. Viglucci. All rights reserved.


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Emma K. Viglucci, LMFT is the Founder and Director of Metropolitan Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC, a private practice that specializes in working with couples, she is the creator of the MetroRelationship™ philosophy and the Successful Couple Strategy™ that assist couples succeed at their relationship and their life. Stay Connected™ with Emma and receive weekly connection notes in your inbox with Personal Development and Relationship Enrichment insights and strategies, visit: www.metrorelationship.com

About Emma

Emma K. Viglucci, LMFT has been in the mental health profession in varying capacities for the past 20+ years. She is the Founder and Director of MetroRelationship.com a psychotherapy and coaching practice specializing in working with busy professional and entrepreneurial couples who are struggling getting on the same page and feeling connected. The work helps couples create a radiant and successful relationship and meaningful life by becoming a strong partnership and increasing their connection, intimacy, and fun. Emma is the creator of the MetroRelationship™ philosophy and the Successful Relationship Strategy™.

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