Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Four Stages of Attachment

Although each dating situation is unique, each progresses in a fairly predictable way. This progression from first date to budding relationship is what I call the four stages of attachment:
  • Stage One: Ignition (from first date to first month): Your interest is just starting up. Hopefully, there’s enough fuel on both sides to ignite a spark. You’re on your best behavior, wear your best clothes, shine your shoes, wear clean socks, pluck your eyebrows, thin your sideburns, and stash breath mints in your pocket.
  • Stage Two: First Gear (from 1 month to 3 months): If all’s well, you didn’t pop the clutch and kill the engine or flood the carburetor. You’re getting to know each other and checking the rearview mirror a bit, but mostly you’re keeping your eyes on the road ahead, trying really hard to mesh those gears without going too fast. You’re relaxed enough to be real, to fumble with the check, to wear a shirt straight from the dryer without ironing it, perhaps even to wear something comfy rather than spiffy. You offer your date a breath mint, too, instead of just sneaking one for yourself.
  • Stage Three: Acceleration (from 3 months to 6 months): Foot on the gas pedal, you’re raring to go. Physical and emotional attraction are steaming up the windshield. You like each other a lot. You feel so comfy you invite your date over to your place even when you haven’t picked the newspaper off the floor. You order extra garlic on the pizza. You feel a sense of give and take. Some of the nervousness about whether you’re on the same page, map, or galaxy or in the same car has lessened a bit — okay, mostly a lot.
  • Stage Four: Cruise Control (from 6 months to 9 months): Sit back, relax; you’re on the freeway. It’s a bona fide relationship-to-be. You love each other, though you may not have said it yet. You’ve seen each other’s flaws and find them adorable. You ate cold garlic pizza for breakfast, and your mate asked you to, please, brush your teeth. Happily, you complied. Not only are you in the car together, you can take turns driving (right . . . ), choose destinations together, and really enjoy the trip.

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