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what to expect after three months of dating...

Updated: 17 hours ago

After three months of dating (and sometimes less), couples find that they are exiting the Honeymoon Phase of their relationship.

Honeymoon Phase

  • Thinking about the other person all the time

  • Prioritizing time with them over other aspects of life

  • Seeing the other person in a golden light - they can do no wrong

  • Sex likely at an all-time high

Once the Honeymoon Phase winds down, a couple reaches the Triggered Phase, and this in turn leads to a series of decision-points that make or break their relationship.

Triggered Phase

  • Begin to feel emotions like disappointment, anger, anxiety, revulsion, and/or sadness

  • Missing time with friends, family and solitude

  • Patterns from previous relationships begin to emerge (anxious/avoidant attachment, conflict avoidance, fawning, controlling, etc.)

  • Begin seeing the other person in a less generous light

  • Sex begins to taper off

As I always say, the Triggered Phase is a completely normal and healthy part of any relationship. It is the most potent opportunity for increasing intimacy and personal growth.

The key are the decision-points.

Do you repeat the patterns from the past, like anxiously grasping at someone who needs space? Or running away when your feelings start to intensify?

Do you believe the stories that your ego creates to keep you running the same programming? Things like, "I'll never find someone who wants the real me," or "I'm just not cut out for relationships."

Or do you slow the f* down and try to make all of this conscious?

why do we go for them in the first place?

The main thing to understand when we enter a relationship is that what we're attracted to in another person is something that our psyche is noticing we could use more of.

This is why we're often attracted to people who are different, even opposite, from us.

Someone who is very responsible may find themselves attracted to free spirits. Someone who is passionate and fiery may find themselves attracted to someone who is grounded and quiet. Think about who you've been attracted to in the past: what qualities about them was your psyche calling your attention to?

These are what are known as Golden Projections. We project wonderful, beautiful qualities onto someone we're just getting to know. These are the qualities our unconscious mind is highlighting for us, saying, "Look! We need more of that!"

recognizing projections

Golden Projections come from our unconscious mind - they are qualities that we suppressed in ourselves at a very young age (typically zero to seven). When we enter the Triggered Phase of a relationship, what is triggering difficult emotions (like revulsion, anxiety, fear, or anger) is also coming from our unconscious mind. We suppressed aspects of ourselves that we then project onto our romantic relationship. That free-spirited being that the responsible person was attracted to is now flighty or immature to them. That quiet, grounded person is now boring and dull to our passionate and fiery soul. This is not a sign of incompatibility, like we may think. These triggers are clues about our deepest selves. They are signs of what is in our Shadow.

why do i care about integrating my shadow?

By nature, we cannot see what we have suppressed into our shadow except through clues that we receive from our unconscious mind: what triggers us and what appears in our dreams.

When parts of our psyche remain unconscious, our lives are influenced by it just as much as our conscious mind. Carl Jung famously said, "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate."

A great example of this is the anxious-avoidant dance in attachment theory. An anxious partner unconsciously clings to deep, constant intimacy with their avoidant partner. As that intimacy deepens, the avoidant partner unconsciously pulls away (because they are triggered). The anxious partner then (unconsciously) pursues them, fearing any perceived distance. They continue triggering each other more and more, pulling away and pursuing, until a blow up or a break up happens.

To the two people in this dynamic, there is no other alternative. They are reacting unconsciously to their Shadow projections of each other.

The avoidant person is triggered by intimacy - they feel mistrust and/or invaded and have developed coping mechanisms to avoid intimacy, which they fear.

The anxious person is triggered by distance - they fear distance and have developed coping mechanisms to avoid that fear. Our life can either by shaped by living in avoidance of our fears, or it can be shaped consciously, by confronting our fears.

slowing down

If you're in the Triggered Phase of your relationship, it's important to build more consciousness of what is triggering you. This is where slowing down is so important.

Here are some simple steps to reduce the impact of triggers:

  1. When you notice that you're triggered, pause. Don't react. If the trigger is creating nervous system dysregulation, take some space and get to a calm place. (Check out this blog post for more helpful info.)

  2. Learn about your Shadow. With each trigger, ask yourself: -How would I describe the person who is triggering me in this moment? (Find three qualities, like annoying, irresponsible, rigid, or distant.) -What is so bad about those qualities? -How do I avoid being like that? -How does avoiding being like that limit me and my life?

  3. Don't avoid your emotions. We need to feel our emotions in order to process them - unprocessed emotions become pushed into the unconscious, which is exactly what we're trying to avoid.

  4. But also, don't buy into the stories that accompany your emotions. It's easy to get swept up in the wave of negative feeling, to believe that if we're feeling something, it must be true. Practice observing your thoughts and emotions without judging them.

  5. Learn how to communicate effectively when there is conflict. Use "I" statements vs "you" statements and focus on trying to understand your partner. Conflict is an incredible opportunity to deepen your intimacy, if you let it. Check out the Emotional Hotness Package for my self-led online course Creative Conflict Resolution to learn more!

Remember, triggers are not bad. They are signals that something within your own unconscious is ready to be integrated.

The Triggered Phase can be really stressful, but it can also lead you to the deepest, most intimate relationship of your life. Maybe you need some support in making that happen!

Sign up for a free 30-minute Dating Detox call. In these calls, we talk about your unique struggle in relationships and dating, and I'll give you personalized guidance on what you need in order to get unstuck! It's totally free! Click the button below to schedule a call.

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