The Stages of Connection
Getting to know the Stages of Connection is getting to know about Human Connection. Human to human connection is what we are all about. Connection between people is one of the keys to relationships. Healthy connections also mean healthy mental, emotional and physical well-being for you.
But did you know that there are varying degrees of connection?
A Quick Look At The Stages
Attraction means that two people are beginning to move toward one another. This is the beginning of connection.
Interaction is doing things together, spending time together, sharing your thoughts and interests, making plans and acting on those plans. This is a physical and mental connection. It is stronger than Attraction, but weaker than Relationship.
In order to be in the Relationship stage, you must have Continuous Interaction, Emotional Connection, and be Playing by the Same Rules.
Partnership is a very strong connection where two people are “up to something together.” Partners share goals, big and small, and each is bottom-line accountable for aspects of those goals.
Connection Stage 1 - ATTRACTION
Attraction means that two people are moving toward one another, physically, mentally and emotionally. Thus, Attraction is the beginning of connection. This stage of connection is only valid if both people are moving toward each other – not just one person being attracted to another. Also, Attraction is a type of physical connection – seeing each other – noticing each other – getting the feeling that you want to be physically closer – not necessarily sexually – but in the same place and the same time.
Connection Stage 2 - INTERACTION
After Attraction, the second stage of connection is Interaction. Interaction is doing things together, spending time together, sharing your thoughts, interests, and getting to know one another, your past, your dreams, your plans, your ambitions. This is also the dating phase of a couple. Interaction also includes sex.
Difference between Interaction and Relationship
Many people confuse Interaction with Relationship. But these two stages are different and distinct levels of connection between two people.
The main difference is that Interaction is a physical and mental connection between two people, whereas Relationship must also have emotional connection (see below.) Without Emotional Connection, two people are basically just sharing information and doing things in the same place.
Connection Stage 3 - RELATIONSHIP
A genuine relationship consists of three absolutely required Keys –
Continued Interaction – continuing all of the things we’ve said about the Interaction Stage of Connection.
Emotional Connection – Emotional Connection is two people mutually expressing and sharing their emotions, and having the other person fully acknowledge, accept and appreciate those emotions. It is also accepting each other on a deeper level; your past, your dreams, your plans, your ambitions, your core values.
Playing By the Same Rules. In other words – conducting your relationship by the same set of rules, whether these rules are spoken or unspoken.
Why isn’t sex a part of the Relationship Stage?
Sex alone does not require Emotional Connection, and thus is an Interaction – doing something together. Sex can include Emotional Connection, and we highly encourage our clients and students to practice Emotional Connection during sex. But the truth is that the act of sex itself can happen without it.
Also know that one person can feel that there is Emotional Connection happening during sex, when in fact, there isn’t.
We teach that couples should always include Emotional Connection with sex, as it is an amazing experience and is one of the best ways to strengthen your Relationship on all levels.
Connection Stage 4 - PARTNERSHIP
Partnership is “being up to something together.” There is a shared goal, big or small, and each has to be bottom-line accountable for aspects of the goal.
Partners achieve their goals together, working in conjunction with one another, trusting, relying, communicating, checking-up and supporting each other. If either one falters, the partnership falls apart and goals are not achieved.
Not every part of your life together has to be in Partnership. But the more often you can work in Partnership, the deeper and stronger your connection will be.
Recognizing the Stages of Connection
Recognizing the Stages of Connection will help you identify when your Relationship is doing well or not doing well. Then you will be able to work on specific problem areas in order to get you back in the Stage of Connection you want.
What is missing in this couple such that they find themselves only in Interaction?
A young woman in her 20’s complained to me that when she needed to talk to her boyfriend, he would only respond with, “OK, Uh-huh, Yeah, Sure,” and then go play video games.
Where’s the Emotional Connection?
I explained to this woman that her and her boyfriend were not connecting on an emotional level. Most likely, her boyfriend probably didn’t even know what emotional connection was, let alone how to create it with her. Thus they were in the Interaction Stage of Connection. Meaning that they were attracting each other on a subconscious level, and they were “doing” things together. But what they have is definitely not at the Relationship Stage.
She immediately saw what I was saying and agreed that indeed, they never shared emotional moments together. Thus, in order to get back into Relationship, they would have to work on creating Emotional Connection.
But the problem is … often times people, both men and women, do not know how to connect on an emotional level. Or it can be scary or feel unsafe. This is where we come in and help you. We understand Emotional Connection and how to get it started within yourself and between two people. If this is you, go now to our courses and coaching under the services menu and look for the next available course, or shoot us an email, or at least, join our group. Don’t sell yourself short – you can do this!
What is going on, or not going on, with this married couple?
Here’s a story from a woman, 50, from Oregon – “I was married and had been accepted to a prestigious school with, what I thought was, support from my husband. So I was setting up an apartment in the city where the school was. My husband was with me as I went to IKEA to purchase furniture. When I asked him if he could help me move it in, he said he didn’t feel like it. I ended up moving everything up three flights of stairs. The marriage was over within three months.”
This couple is no longer in Continuous Interaction – doing things together – sharing their interests, ideas and especially not their plans for the future. Without a doubt, they lost their connection over time, starting with emotional connection, and then mental connection as the woman describes above.
Over the years, because of lack of emotional and mental connection, we would guess that their physical connection also started to decay. It is no surprise that they were completely disconnected – divorced – within three months of her starting school. Without connection at any level, two people will diverge.
We absolutely know that connection is what keeps two people in Relationship,
…especially emotional connection. That is why we also know that people don’t suddenly leave Relationships without the connection already lost or missing (Just like in the story above.) We teach connection – that’s what we do – and that’s why we know our philosophy works. Love is our business. That’s what we do.
Recognizing which Stage of Connection you are in…
…will help you identify when your Relationship is doing well or not doing well. Then you will be able to work on those essentials in order to get you back in the Stage of Connection you want.
Which Stage of Connection Are You In?
Whose game are they playing?
A woman from California, 34, described this incident. “My foot was broken at the time, and was sore and aching by the end of my workday. My husband and I had made dinner plans, so he came to pick me up after work. He asked how I was and I told him I was sore from the crutches.
“When we arrived at the restaurant, he parked a block away. I didn’t know that at the time exactly because he chose the place, so I figured it must be around the corner, which is already too far when you’re sore from crutches. It was FAR! I was understandably slow and he walked yards ahead of me out of impatience. At one point, I stumbled on a sidewalk crack.
“By the time we got there, I was too upset to eat. I didn’t want to cry in public. He put his own convenience over my physical comfort. If he’d loved me, he would have dropped me off in front of the restaurant, then found parking. Not make me walk in crutches.”
The missing Relationship Key…
…in this story may be difficult to see because we feel that the husband is a mean, self-centered idiot. But beneath everyone’s behaviors, good and bad, are rules that govern those behaviors. In this case, this married couple’s rules are world’s apart. Therefore, they were not Playing By The Same Rules. His rules were that he didn’t need to show empathy to his wife, but on the other hand, had to get to dinner on time. Her rule was that he should do everything possible to take care of her when she is injured.
When a couple is playing by different rules, conflict will ensue which causes disconnection and chaos. On the bright side, when a couple is playing by the same rules, in essence they are playing the same relationship game. In turn, this creates connection and harmony.
Think about your current or previous relationship.
Then do your best to answer the following questions:
- What are your attractions to each other?
- How much time do you spend doing things together?
- Of that time spent together, how much do you enjoy?
- Do you share with each other your interests, ideas and thoughts?
- Are you often making plans together?
- Do you act on those plans?
- Have you continued to be in Interaction?
- Do you feel emotionally connected?
- Can you both create a safe space for each other to express emotions?
- Have you spent time to learn about each other’s relationship rules?
- Do you play by the same rules?
- Is there often conflict? (The presence of conflict indicates that a couple is not playing by the same rules)
We offer one-on-one coaching to help you understand where you can strengthen connection and put into practice this relationship success philosophy.
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