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Each relationship we get ourselves into seems to be unique, and for a good reason: the person you are dating is unique. The love that the two of you have is unique. The entire experience is unique. Nevertheless, each and every relationship follows an almost identical cycle.

Falling in love with your partner is not the end, but rather the beginning of the journey that you and your partner will have to trek. This is the mistake that I made in the past and a mistake that most people make at least once in their lives — usually more than once. The truth is that it takes a certain level of maturity to make a relationship work.

Because that is exactly what a relationship is: work. People seem to think that because they love the person, the rest will come easily…come on now, that would be too easy. Where’s the fun in having a relationship that has no bumps, no changes, no surprises and no sharp deviations in mood and emotion? Shit is an important part of any relationship. Understanding the cycle of the relationship and coming to accept what lies ahead is key to making it with your lover.

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Meaningful relationships all start about the same way. You meet, you chat, you date, you fornicate, you fall in love. Falling in love itself is a magical experience; it seems to come as if out of nowhere. One day all of a sudden you find yourself thinking about the person without even trying.

You get excited and nervous about seeing them. You begin to put more effort into preparing yourself for the rendezvous and you enjoy every second of your time together. The more intimate you get the more magical the experience becomes. You begin to hunger for their touch, hunger to hear their voice and to see their visage.

Unsure of how you found yourself in this situation, it feels as if you literally fell into a pool filled with love, with the apple of your eye as the lifeguard—your one and only saving grace. Things are going great and you cannot get enough of the other person. To you, they seem to be flawless; love has blinded you.

Now comes the second phase of the cycle, the crucial one. The magic between the two of you begins to fade. The phone calls become less frequent and the joy that you saw in their eyes every time you meet is no longer quite as bright.

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The two of you have gotten used to each other. All the mystery and surprise of each other’s company and bodies is no longer hidden, but all out in the open. You have both let your guards down and showed yourselves in your entireties. You begin to regain your sight and start to pick up on idiosyncrasies and habits that you find to no longer be as cute as you thought, but rather annoying and distracting.

Your partner is no longer a puzzle for you to solve, but an open book that you have read so many times that you basically have it memorized. And then you begin to question whether or not you are still in love with the person — or worse, whether or not you ever loved them.

The important thing to remember is that this cycle is the cycle of each relationship — no exceptions. The reason some succeed and others fail is because some come to realize that these feelings and doubts are normal, accept them for what they are and never allow themselves to completely doubt their love for that person. Loving someone is not the same as falling in love with someone.

Of course, not everyone will deal with these novel uncertainties in the same, mature manner. In most cases we will find people resorting to other methods of dealing with these unpleasant feelings. I chose drugs and alcohol. Others choose cheating on their partners.

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Many just decide to cut the ties early on so that they don’t have to risk having their partner break up with them. Many become distant, spend more times doing things like watching TV or spending time with their friends instead of with their partner.

Trying to fill the hole with something else will not work. You can either accept that the feelings and uncertainty that you feel are completely normal or you can tuck your tail between your legs and walk away. I’m going to fill you in on the secret of love: love is not an accident, it is not something that is out of your control and not an outside force; love is a decision.

If you want to love someone then you must consciously decide that you want to love that person, and that you can and will love that person. Sustaining love is not easy…but it is possible. It requires effort. It requires you to work and try new ways of making your partner smile.

It requires you wanting to make your partner love you more and more every day and accepting the love they give you in return. At times it will be difficult, possibly near unbearable — but in the end, if you can make it work then you will be thanking your stars, your God or gods, your lucky rabbit foot that you weren’t an idiot and bailed earlier on in the relationship.

Your partner may be an open book, but as time goes on, chapters are added. And even then, no matter how many times you read a book, you can always pick something new up — if you try.

– via Elite Daily