The Relationship Escalator

I honestly thought that I wrote a basic post on this topic years ago, but a diligent search of has proven that if I ever I wrote it, it wasn’t posted here! Whether you watch movies from Hollywood, or read “romantic” books, or just live your life in middle America, we are all conditioned to expect the Relationship Escalator as an undeniable and necessary part of our relationships. The sequence goes something like this:

  • Flirting
  • Dating
  • Coupled [going steady?]
  • Sexual intimacy
  • Commitment
  • Cohabitation
  • Married
  • Mortgaged
  • Children

First of all, I had an issue with figuring out the order of the expected stages of a “normal” relationship. In my world, sexual intimacy can come hard on the heels of flirtation with no pretense that there is ever going to be any sort of ongoing dating relationship. On the other hand, it’s just as likely that people build a friendship and get to know each other so that there is a sense of emotional intimacy before getting passionate. Neither is any less valid, in my opinion. Both can be real and wonderful when they occur. For the sake of discussion I have shown a somewhat slow and patient approach.

The relationship escalator is no less normal than an approach that allows a relationship to be what it is, with no expectation that it must necessarily become something else as the next step.

Life isn’t an escalator or a fixed staircase. Each day is unique and special, and we should live it as it happens and react to each moment.

Why should we assume that a relationship is on a fixed path, moving inexorably from one square to the next, like pieces on a game board striving to find our way home?Life is not a game of Parcheesi. If there is a goal, it is to live and love fully, and find joy every day!

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