Game: Simplified, Part 2
Relationships are a tricky issue. I’m not talking solely about long-term man-woman relationships, but any type of interpersonal relationships–be it with a good friend or family members. To recap, here is the visual model of Knapp’s Relational Development Model:
Just like the “coming together” part, relationship dissolution also has five stages: differentiating, circumscribing, stagnating, avoiding, and terminating. These stages are not linear or chronological. Sometimes stagnation may happen first and lead to differentiating. Different relationships will develop differently depending on the personalities and communication methods of the parties involved.
This is usually the start of a relationship falling apart, where one of both parties focus more on the differences than commonalities. The “us mentality” is threatened, and there is usually a feeling of resentment. The both of you will start pursuing activities without the other in order to regain back the sense of individualism. There will be a lot of arguing–or if she’s more predisposed to it, silent treatments. This will occur if the relationship develops too fast and the initiating party feels a loss in identity and freedom.
The best way to prevent this is to limit the amount of time spent together, especially if you accelerate the coming together stage as is normal of practitioners of the art. Don’t get too clingy too fast, and avoid letting her get too needy too early as well.
While differentiating was more of a mental process, circumscribing is where lines are drawn. You will find that there’s nothing much to talk about anymore and there will be a significant decline in commitment. Communication breakdown occurs here because even though there is an apparent problem, one party will close off. “I don’t want to talk about it” is a sign of circumscribing. Most people will obey the wishes of the aggravator and not pursue the issue, leaving the relationship to decay even further.
Find time to talk things through. If she doesn’t want to talk about it for too long and you feel things getting worse, voice out your opinions–but avoid being confrontational or soft. Let her know, as a man, that you recognize that something is wrong and you care enough to fix it (that’s if you really want to). If she is adamant about keeping silent, then perhaps there’s no point in pursuing the relationship anymore. Relationships require effort from both parties to work.
If you don’t address the issue early, things will fall into stagnation. This is where couples spend time together for the sake of it, but they aren’t really emotionally present with each other. They might be in the same room, going through the the routine pizza day, but no one really wants to be there. They are thinking that there’s something better to do, but perhaps they’re there out of habit or obligation. Communication devolves into mere scripts. Couples are still together because they don’t want to go through the pains of a break up. Yet the alienation sucks the life out of the relationship.
If at this stage you still want to actively pursue a relationship, it might do you good to surprise her with something you know she likes. Not just to win her over but the counter the stagnation of the relationship. Show her that you care; that you still remember the little things that she likes. Actions always speak louder than words. Guys always want to talk things out, but sometimes you need to show her instead.
This is where you start to see noticeably less of each other. There is an intentional avoiding. While you still see each other during stagnation, now both parties rarely communicate anymore. Even when together, there is emotional avoidance. If the relationship comes to this, it will be very difficult to make things work–short of a huge change of heart. If she wants to avoid you and you keep persisting in meeting her, it might drive her away. As a man it is important to not be needy and demonstrate that you do care.
This is the final stage of relational dissolution. The break up. Most people will try to keep it alive by “staying friends”, but the amount of resentment at this point will make it almost impossible. It will virtually be a clean cut, and both (or one) parties will move on. A man in abundance will never worry about losing a girl because he has options. A man will never get to this stage unless he wants to. Still, break up is never easy. It means reconfiguring routines and having to deal with bouts of loneliness, especially if the two of you were really close. In any case, it will do you good to get over it quickly and pursue your life (you should never make your woman a priority in your life; your purpose comes first).
This might be the most depressing post on this blog thus far. But I hope it’s useful to understanding the stages in relational dissolution so that you can be aware of them and counter them because they descend into termination if that’s not what you want.