The honeymoon's over and it's time to start unpacking the baggage. This is the phase that makes or breaks it as far as I'm concerned.
Like clockwork, it seems to happen at about the three-month mark. Things are chuggin' along nicely, sex is fantastic, tooth brushes are confidently left at each other's homes.
Perhaps you've even uttered the "L" word. You've most definitely hinted at it with your friends. "I think this is the guy," you've muttered excitedly, but under your breath through slightly clenched teeth as if stating it out loud will somehow jinx it.
Then it happens.
I call it "the transition phase" -- that awkward, scary and confusing point in a relationship when you have to move it from the "Oh my God, it's so amazing, you should see him breathe, he's so good at it!" phase into the "Oh, my God, am I completely deluding myself? I thought he was different but he's just like the rest of them" phase. Of course, this often dovetails into the "Oh my God, why can't I make a relationship work? What's wrong with me?" self-pity phase.
With almost shocking speed, the wonderfully blissful state of drooly, googly-eyed lust is shattered. The honeymoon's over and it's time to start unpacking the baggage. This is the phase that makes or breaks it as far as I'm concerned. When you start to explore each other's soft, white underbelly. When you discover you both have needs you may not understand, insecurities you might not like, and you have to sort through the whack of crap you've hauled in with you from all your previous relationships.
One wrong move here can send both parties into a panic and throw the entire relationship into question. Survival means learning that not liking something about someone does not automatically mean this person isn’t right for you. It means learning that uncertainty during the transition phase is normal. It is how you handle this uncertainty that is crucial to the survival or the downfall of the relationship. That, while, yes, it is important to express yourself and be honest, at this volatile stage (and quite frankly at all stages of a relationship), it is often better to hold back that initial need to blurt out all your fear and hurt and take time to regroup and figure out what's really going on and how you might communicate without pushing each other's buttons.
Because if you can survive the transition stage, there's a whole new stage that is even better than that lusty googly-eyed stage we are all so fearful of losing -- true intimacy.
When you can relax a little and every conflict or problem doesn't have you questioning the entire relationship. When you know the freaky bits and you still like the person. And you can caress each other's soft underbelly.