My husband and I went to see the newly released movie “About Last Night” (see Movie Trailer) over the weekend and a couple of the scenes jumped out at me. The first thing that got me thinking was when Kevin Hart’s character Bernie and his girl Joan (Regina Hall), both claimed on separate occasions to their respective friends Danny and Debbie (Mike Ealy and Joy Bryant), that whoever “says I love you first loves more” and as a result is at some sort of a disadvantage in the relationship which each respective friend (Danny and Debbie) were about to embark on together.
Those claims got me thinking of my own experience in this area and I realized that while I had never been the first one to say those three loaded words “I Love You,” it was by no means related to me being less in love than the object of my affection, but rather that the magnitude of that person’s appeal to me unnerved me, making me feel uncomfortably vulnerable; even when it was what I wanted the most.
This leads me to believe that whoever is less emotionally expressive in a relationship would be lucky to find a more expressive lover that can speak life into what they both intuitively hope to find in each other. Ideally adding an element of emotional support that could usher the couple into a more intimate level of relating to each other and possibly expand their ability to communicate, as they work to find balance within the relationship.
The process of relating can be as individual as the people involved but according to the world of psychology, relationships generally follow five cyclical (non-linear) stages: Romance, Power Struggle, Stability, Commitment, Co-creating. Most relationships don’t make it past the power struggle stage, as was the case between Kevin Hart’s friend Danny and his ex-girlfriend Allison and subsequently Debbie, his new girlfriend. While others remain embroiled in a power struggle for months or years till it all ends in anger, bitterness and frustration as one would guess could be the case for Bernie and his lady love Joan.
In the real world most of our relationships struggle in different areas, while others make it through all of the five stages in a manner that seems to be effortless, only to grapple with these same relationship issues as they grow and change later in life. Therefore, I think that the idea that one might have the “upper hand” in a love relationship, is egotistical and misguided because in any relationship between equals neither person dominates without the permission of the other; a dynamic that usually takes place in a subtle dance which alternates.
How have you experienced crossing that threshold of “I love you?”