The four seasons rule of relationships
Have you ever thought you found love at first sight, only to be disappointed six months later?
Just because you feel sparks from day one, it doesn’t mean you have to lock it down and seal the deal immediately or else the relationship will vanish. These types of exciting feelings are further examined in the book, Why We Love by Chemistry.com’s own Dr. Helen Fisher. Dr. Fisher goes into deep detail to discuss things like, “When you fall in love, specific areas of the brain light up with increased blood flow.” Talk about electricity!
Now that you know your brain does funny things when you fall in love, it’s time to get ahead of the hormones in order to think logically and long-term. It’s hard when your heart and your mind seem to be saying: This is it, hurry up and move forward!
The real problem lies with this fast-paced world in which we all live today. We feel pressure to put our relationships on the fast track as soon as we think we feel that spark telling us we’ve met The One. Our clocks are ticking, our parents are asking, “When are you ever going to get married?” and it seems like everyone else is doing the same thing. It’s the pressure from this fast-forward pacing that can often backfire on us — big time.
Here is where the Four Seasons Rule fits in. Basically, it takes four seasons — or one whole year — to really get to know someone. Think of it this way: your best friend didn’t become your best friend overnight; it took some time to develop. You had to share experiences and get to know each other through an extended period of time. It’s the same with any great relationship; you won’t know how a new partner handles a difficult situation until you’re presented with one. You won’t know how this person treats his or her family until you’ve actually had a chance to spend time with all of them together.
Let’s look at this logically. I’m not asking you to wait three years to make a serious commitment with the person whom you feel you are in love with today. Instead, I’m asking you to date each other and have fun for one whole year before you make any serious commitments, like moving in together or getting engaged. Experience the ebbs and flows of a relationship first so you can see multiple sides of your new partner. Take enough time to get to know this wonderful person.
The Four Seasons Rule can also save you from some pretty harsh life lessons, too. A good friend of mine I’ll call Krista* had the unfortunate experience of dating what she thought was a wonderful man for about eight months. One day, Krista’s phone rang. The woman on the other line told my friend that she was the wife of Krista’s now not-so-wonderful boyfriend. (Talk about a wake-up call.) As it turns out, he was telling both of these women that his workload was heavy, hence the limited time they were able to spend together. Poor Krista was already imagining their future life together as a committed couple. Thankfully, she found out the truth before she had invested years in her relationship with Mr. Falsifier.
Perhaps you remember this scenario that’s been playing out all over the media: Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries got engaged only after six months of dating. Their marriage lasted just over 10 weeks, and the couple spent more than a year and tons of money trying to get divorced. They still aren’t legally divorced, and Kim is already in another relationship! Perhaps if they had dated longer than a year before to deciding to walk down the aisle together, they could have dodged all of that drama.
Honestly, wouldn’t you much rather date someone for a year and find out that your partner just isn’t the right person for you rather than rush off to Vegas after three months to get married, then end up filing for divorce six months later?
Here are a few tips to consider as you make your way through the Four Seasons Rule of dating:
- Wait to make any serious commitments (like moving in together or getting engaged) until you have dated for at least one full year.
- Listen to your gut feelings. If that inner voice is telling you that someone is wrong for you after five months of dating, listen to it. Take the time to figure out why you are questioning this relationship.
- Know that the way you both handle challenges and deal with each other will be a strong predictor of your future relationship together. Make sure that you’re moving in the right direction as time goes on.
- It’s OK to throw in the towel if things aren’t working out. The biggest mistake you can make is to settle for something that doesn’t make you happy just because you feel like it’s what you are supposed to do.
- Learn from your past mistakes. Perhaps you’re the type of person that likes to rush into a new relationship, but if doing so has burned you in the past, now’s the time to slow things down a little.
So, go ahead and put the Four Seasons Rule into play the next time you start to date someone exclusively. Remember, if this is the love of your life, you will have a lifetime to enjoy it.
*Names have been changed to protect contributors’ privacy.
Marina Sbrochi grew up in Dublin, Ohio and attended Ohio State University. She’s a forever Buckeye, a dating coach in Dallas, Texas and the IPPY Award-winning author of Stop Looking for a Husband: Find the Love of Your Life. You can learn more at stoplookingforahusband.com, on Facebook (facebook.com/StopLookingForAHusband) and on Twitter (@MarinaSbrochi).