have you ever wondered: Why is our relationship so difficult? Things were very right when we first met – what happened? Most likely, the answer is that you have left the first phase of your relationship, and moved to another. But can it really be that easy?
Yes! Most people understand that relationships grow and change over time… but many people do not know that they develop in the same way. There are specific, defined stages of a long-term relationship, offering new feelings, new challenges to overcome, and new opportunities for growth. And if you want your relationship to develop into mutual respect, love and intimacy, then you are likely to experience all stages of the following relationship at some point. Take a look at the details of each step – is any of this sound familiar?
Before we get started, you should know that most people experience these steps in this order, and they will need to solve challenges in each stage before they can successfully move on to the next stage. Of course there are always exceptions to this rule. But for the most part, if you want a healthy and fulfilling relationship, then you cannot experience all these steps. Each couple will pass through these stages at different speeds, and most people will experience each phase more than once – fluctuations from one phase to another are common. *
Ok, now that I have given you the basic information, dig a little more….
Stage 1 – Romance Stage
It is also known as courtship phase or fantasy stage, and can last anywhere from 2 months to 2 years. This is when you and your partner have just met, and everything is absolutely amazing. You can’t get enough of each other. Neither can you do anything wrong in the eyes of the other … mainly because both of you are still at your best behavior. In this phase the focus is on generalities – you have so many common interests, you can be practically the same person! You show your partner your absolute best, and you try to make each other as happy as possible. In this phase conflict is seen as “bad”, and is avoided at all costs. You can’t imagine living without this person, so you start spending more and more time together. This is the stage when our defenses are at the bottom, which allows you to open up and fall in love. You and your partner are forming an important foundation in this stage, which can enhance your relationship. There are also biological effects. When you are in this state, your body is producing a lot of endorphins, making you feel unusually happy, positive, and excited about everything in your life (this is “high in love” Heel is “on the head”!). It is the most frequently portrayed stage in films and romantic novels for obvious reasons. Bottom Line – You are happier than ever, and can never imagine feeling any differently.
Stage 2 – Disillusioned Stage
This phase is also known as the familiar phase, or adjusting to reality phase. This is where you start realizing that your partner is actually a human (terror of horrors!). You get to know each other more and more, and as a result you start recognizing their various flaws and shortcomings. You see your partner in relaxed conditions, and you become more relaxed. Since your body cannot possibly continue to produce the same level of endorphins that it had in the beginning, those feelings of being on top of the world begin to diminish. Your partner’s little habits are not as cute as they used to be, but there is still enough goodwill from the romance stage that you’re ready to ignore them. This stage can slowly start coming into your relationship, as you begin to see your partner for who he really is. Or sometimes it happens suddenly, when there has been some kind of dishonesty or deception. This stage can be confusing and discouraging, because you have just experienced so much openness and connection in the romance stage. However, at this stage, your main job is to learn how to communicate and resolve conflicts with this person effectively, which is an important skill if you want to continue your relationship.
Stage 3 – Power Struggle Stage
This phase is also known as the frustration phase or crisis phase. As the symptoms of disenchantment intensify, they become harder and harder to deal with. You will most likely be away from each other in this phase. At this point, the two of you still believe that conflict is a “bad” thing, but you are aware of their many differences. You fight to draw boundaries in the relationship, and as a result, even a little bit of heartburn becomes a big problem. This is the stage where you define unacceptable behavior, and most couples have occasional or frequent thoughts of leaving a relationship. More and more often, you feel as if your partner is self-centered or caring about the United Nations, or worse, that they simply cannot believe it. If you are unable to resolve your issues in a respectful and mutually agreeable way, then deep resentment begins to build. Many couples get stuck in this state, as this way of talking becomes normal in their relationship. This is when learning is required to effectively manage your differences – to communicate and work together as a team, even if it is tempting to believe that your partner’s sole purpose on earth is to make your life. It is difficult to make. Not surprisingly, this is the stage when most couples decide to break up or file for divorce. However, if they are able to negotiate all landmines during this phase, they will move on….
Stage 4 – Stability Stage
It is a quiet and peaceful time compared to the last phase. This phase is also known as the friendship phase or reconciliation phase. Some couples never get into this state, but those who do so find that they have deep feelings of love, connection and trust with their partner. Now you have a history together, and most people start relying on relationship prediction. As you enter this stage, you begin to feel that your partner is not perfect, but your personal differences are not as threatened as they used to be. You are able to resolve most of your differences, at least to some extent, and you become more confident in the relationship. At this stage some people feel at a loss as they learn to accept their partner for who they really are, as this means that they must abandon the fantasy that was established early in the relationship. But for the most part, a deep sense of friendship and commitment is a good tradeoff for butterflies and early feelings of excitement. This is also when you start re-establishing your own external interests and friendships, which were given in the romance phase. There is some danger that you may start separating or getting bored with your partner at this stage, so you should try to maintain the connection that was made in the romance phase. Overall, this is the stage when you finally begin to feel comfortable and happy with your deep relationships.
Step 5 – Commitment Phase
This phase is also known as acceptance phase, transformation phase or actual love phase. It is estimated that according to The Relationship Institute, less than 5% of couples actually fall into this stage. This is the stage when both couples have a clear perception of who their partner is, what is blame, persistence and weakness… yet they like to be with this person despite all those things (and some In cases, because of those things). You are not with your partner because you need them, but because you have chosen them, meaning that the level of resentment you feel in the Power Struggle phase has been reduced, if not disappeared. If you have made it to this level, then you and your partner are a team. You truly love your partner, and you seek your best interests as much as you look out for yourself. Your partner is your best friend. There are no surprises at this stage about your partner’s habits or character. You have collaborated to overcome many challenges simultaneously, and have evolved to accept and support each other without restriction. Your approach to your relationship suits you and what both of you really want. You have discussed your future together – you have similar life goals, and you feel encouraged to define your relationship further. Many couples decide to make a formal or public commitment to each other at this stage (such as marriage) to demonstrate their intention to continue their relationship. This is the stage in which your relationship becomes a true partnership.