Recognizing the relationship elevator

Years ago, shortly before getting married for the second time, I wrote a post about all the things I wanted to do better this second time around: more intimacy, more joint activities, more communication, and a joint life goal. My previous marriage had taught me a thing or two about how relationships ebb and flow, but I still believed that the relationship elevator was the right choice: I just needed to get into the right elevator.

Once you are inside the elevator it’s up or out

The concept of the relationship elevator refers to the linear vision of monogamous relationships: you meet that special someone. You have a first date. You kiss. You start dating “seriously”. At some point you have sex. You move in with each other. You get married. You have kids. You buy a house. The exact order might vary slightly, but if you linger too long on one “floor”, family and friends will start commenting.

The whole idea that your “relationship isn’t going anywhere” or that you need to start “taking this serious” is based on the elevator concept. You can only be on one elevator at a time – and you need to get up as quickly as possible, even if it’s not completely clear why that’s so important.

Falling in love with the 3rd floor

For some people, the relationship elevator is a fulfilling journey towards their life’s purpose. Other people get out on the 5th floor (often right before or right after having kids) to start over again with someone else, because they miss the feeling of being in love. Serial monogamy usually lasts 3-5 years, often until one person falls in love with someone else and feels compelled to end the relationship.

After all, you cannot be in love with two different people, right? If you are passionately in love with a new person that automatically means that you’ve stopped loving your soon-to-be previous partner, right? Romantic love is exclusive and possessive – while it lasts. Right? And if you miss those butterflies from the third floor, you need to get off the current elevator and start all over again.

Falling in love – being in love – loving someone

Do you think you could love your second child just as much as the first one? And the third child? Are you capable of having more than one best friend? Or maybe you should ditch your current friends as soon as you meet someone else who is interesting?

Or maybe that second child increases your love for both of them, because you can appreciate them for their uniqueness. Maybe that new person in your friend group brings new ideas and impulses that make hanging out even more fun.

And maybe having more than one romantic relationship can add new energy to all of them. Because love isn’t finite and friendship isn’t exclusive.

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