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Our Relationship Paradigm

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The add read: Man seeks woman for fun relationship; marriage minded women need not apply! Must love sports, hip-hop, attend church and be spontaneous. Should be around 36-24-36, have bedroom eyes, magnetic smile, mocha chocolate skin, long hair and dimples! This man had his preprogrammed criteria, (better known as his relationship paradigm) all mapped out! Is he wrong, out of touch or off base? Before you answer, what is your relationship paradigm? Dane Cunningham, affectionately known as the relationship expert, illuminates our minds as he helps us grasp this oftentimes misunderstood issue.

by Dane Cunningham

What I Like!
When a woman buys a new pair of shoes or a man buys a new car, what are they looking for? In most cases, we have a preconceived idea of what we like; when we see it, we buy it. Sometimes the purchase is made even when we can't afford it. The preconceived idea is called our paradigm. For some of us, our paradigm is flawed because we either return the shoes or trade the car in within three years or less. The same principle applies to our relationship paradigm.

Sometimes we pick the person we like only to want to return them or trade them in within three years or less. Even when you are in a relationship that meets your paradigm and you are satisfied, it is possible that your mate is not satisfied. In that case you might end up holding your paradigm by yourself.

I Can’t Live Without You!
Our relationship paradigm is not just influenced by what we have preconceived is attractive; it is also impacted by what happens to us when we encounter a person who meets that paradigm. When you are with that person, your heart skips a beat, and you feel a lil' heat. You don't wanna take it slow, even though you know you have a long way to go, you are probably in your paradigm.

The physiological response that feels like you are high is the result of the brain releasing a chemical called dopamine. If both of you feel the vibe, the tendency will be to drive until your bodies intersect. When your bodies crash in pleasure, you just might close your eyes, open your mouth, and begin to quiver, this is because your brain has released another chemical called oxytocin. Dopamine is stimulated by our emotional feelings and oxytocin is stimulated by physical touch.

The desire to experience the feelings that person provides motivates us, just like the feelings we get when shopping for a new pair of shoes or driving a new car. The problem is that our relationships are not inanimate objects that are simply based on good feelings.

Sometimes we desire to wear different shoes and drive different cars because the fashion and the style change. Perhaps after foot surgery you can no longer wear heels. If you are married with children, a two-seat convertible is no longer practical. Likewise, what we are attracted to often shifts over time. When our relationship paradigm shifts, the absence of those past-felt emotions puts our relationship at risk.

If you leave a glass of water unattended for an extended period of time, eventually the water will evaporate. For a relationship to last, it constantly needs love poured into it that is manifested by attention, appreciation, affection, encouragement, comfort, and respect. Without a manifestation of unconditional love, it does not matter how good you feel when you are together, eventually your paradigm will shift.

Which Relationship Paradigm Will You Choose?
God compares His relationship with His people to marriage. A relationship where He is always faithful even when we are not.

If our relationship paradigm gets us to the point of marriage, we must understand that God intends for you to be as faithful to one another as He is to you. The marriage vows represent a covenant that is binding by God, but the marriage license represents a contract that is binding by an attorney. With divorce rates over 50% we know that people break contracts, but God desires that we keep covenant.

There are legitimate reasons for terminating a relationship such as adultery and domestic violence, but the desire to return our relationship like a pair of shoes or trade it in like a car just because our relationship paradigm has shifted is unacceptable. God has a relationship paradigm just like we do, will we keep His paradigm or will we insist on our own?

Which will you choose?

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by Dane Cunningham

Dane Cunningham Dane Cunningham is one busy man! He is CEO of (E.R.S.) Embrace Relationships Seminars where he addresses adult relationships from the biblical perspective through life changing teaching sessions. He is also the Singles' Director at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, pastored by Bishop Eddie Long. A prolific writer, Cunningham is the author of: Take a Look Within and Risky Relationships. You can visit his website at:

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© Dane Cunningham. 2005
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