Posted By: Niki Payne Date: 12-21-2016 Comments: 0
Tis the season to be coupling up as holiday cheer envelopes almost every aspect of your life.
Wherever you go, there is sure to be festive music playing in the background, decorations strewn across almost every store you walk into and hints of mistletoe hiding in unsuspecting places.
Whether you just started dating or have been dating for a while, you want your partner to know you care without making the gesture seem like a bigger deal than you intended. That’s why I’ve mapped out three basic stages of a relationship for you along with holiday gift ideas that are just right for the current love interest in your life.
Which Relationship Stage Are You In?
There are many schools of thought on the different stages of a relationship. Some experts report as few as four or five stages, while others claim as many as seven or nine stages. Some people might even categorize relationship stages by the amount of time you’ve been together with someone. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll focus on three general stages of a relationship as adopted by Dr. John Kappas, author of “Relationship Strategies: The E&P Attraction.”
The Honeymoon Stage: This is typically the period in a relationship when you’re both putting your best foot forward and the romantic connection between you is at its strongest. Also referred to as the addiction or infatuation stage, this is the part of the relationship when you can’t stop thinking about each other, the chemistry is off the charts, and your subtle differences seem almost mesmerizing. You’re in love and addicted to this intoxicating feeling.
Gift ideas: At this stage of a relationship, you’ll likely want to milk it for what it’s worth. For starters, talk about it and set expectations. This will help mitigate any potential awkwardness that could arise should one person get a gift and the other does not. Maybe you’ll both decide the relationship is still too new to get each other gifts. Instead, you may opt for a nice dinner out at a fancy restaurant that requires upscale attire, or even a simple home cooked meal with a good bottle of wine. Perhaps you’ll decide to set a specific dollar amount for the value of a gift you would both feel comfortable spending on the other. Regardless of the dollar amount, opt for a gift that is both heartfelt and meaningful – a pair of tickets to your partner’s favorite musical artist or sports team, a coffee mug or a t-shirt with a cute quirky saying that encompasses your partner’s personality, perhaps a book related to an inside joke or a common interest you both share – something small and non-expensive that shows you listen, know and care about the other person.
The Plateau Stage: As the novelty of the relationship begins to wear off, you both start feeling more comfortable and secure in the relationship, and revert back to your normal behavior. This is when the things you initially fell in love with about a person start to become minor annoyances. You may find yourself diverting some of your “honeymoon” energy back into your career, hobbies or any other neglected aspects of your life. This stage can last for months, years or even a lifetime depending on the couple and how they choose to resolve their differences.
Gift Ideas: At this stage of a relationship, it might be a good idea to understand your partner’s love language. Choose a gift that expresses your love and commitment in a way that will really resonate with your partner. If your partner appreciates words of affirmation, writing your partner a poem or a love song could quite possible make her heart melt. If your partner values quality time together, perhaps a couple’s massage or a romantic weekend getaway would be good options. If your partner is really big on gifts, nice jewelry could speak volumes or perhaps one of the latest tech gadgets he’s had his eye on. If your partner appreciates acts of service, a home cooked meal may be all the gift your partner needs or perhaps registration for a class you can take together that will help your partner in an area of their life where they could use your support. Or if your partner prefers physical touch, a sensual oil massage would be more appreciated than an actual gift, especially if you’re the one giving the massage. Keeping the five love languages in mind, opt for a gift that complements your partner’s personality and honors their unique interests.
The Trauma Stage: This is stage of a relationship when your physical or emotional needs are not being met and you feel rejected or neglected as a result. At this stage, your differences suddenly become major nuisances and it seems like you’re both communicating in completely different languages. This is when misunderstandings occur and the gap between you and your partner tend to widen until you work things out and go back to the plateau stage or decide to dissolve the relationship completely if a loving compromise is not possible.
Gift Ideas: At this stage of a relationship, you’ll likely want to engage in some kind of fun and interactive activity to help rekindle attraction. Experiential gifts are ideal at this stage of a relationship. The right experiences can remind you why you were attracted to each other in the first place. It’s often said that if you keep doing the same things you did at the beginning of a relationship, then it won’t have to end. What experiences did you share when you first started dating? How can you recreate some of those experiences? Some experiences worth gifting to your partner include tickets to the theatre, a local amusement park, an escape room, or a murder mystery dinner. Perhaps a scrapbook featuring memories of your first six months together might be a good gift your sweetie. Whatever you choose, allow the experience to help put some distance between you and the day to day problems of the relationship so you can focus on enhancing the intimacy in the relationship.