Have you ever wondered if a relationship has certain phases or stages that are linked to its development? Additionally, have you consciously experienced a “change of phase” while being with someone?
It’s not to say that relationships happen and develop arbitrarily in separate stages. However, if we understood them and looked for aspects to improve our relationships and their development, breaking up the process into steps can be very helpful.
About Relationships And Their Stages
Some relationships only reach the second or third stage, and while some go all the way to the fifth phase, partners can still end up getting separated. One of the reasons for this is that there may not be enough knowledge available for couples on navigating a relationship early on and what to focus on. Has this happened to you?
In one of those real movie-like scenarios, my partner was engaged to someone else and decided to break the engagement so we can be together after being separated for five years. So, it is possible to realize on the verge of completely committing that you’ve made the wrong choice.
Analyzing your relationships is the last thing you want to do when you’re madly in love, though. Everything around you is brighter than usual, and you feel like you’re floating instead of walking.
So, instead of jumping into a profound analysis of your relationships immediately if there may not be any reason for concern, you can take a look at the components or phases identified in a romantic or dating relationship. This can help you get to know what they are and what they mean.
They may even help you understand where you stand with your partner at the moment, and after all, knowledge is power!
Stage 1: The Meeting and Subsequent Attraction
The first stage is one every partner will remember and would have been aware of when it happens, as it’s that moment when you meet your significant other and feel a strong sense of wanting to be with them, talk to them, and observe them.
Today, a meeting can take place basically anywhere, and it doesn’t really matter if one person lives halfway across the world. Online dating sites, chat sites, social media, and other online platforms make it easy for us to meet new people and discover whether we’re attracted to them or not.
A relationship has to start somewhere. Usually, you would meet a potential partner at a pub, through your circle of friends, or even through a group you belong to or a class you’re attending. My situation is very old-school (and a pun) as my partner and I knew each other from high school.
The options are endless, but in current times, the meeting location has shifted more towards an online playground than an in-person domain due to the circumstances we are faced with.
Different areas or ways of meeting can also introduce different opportunities to get to know a potential partner and establish whether you’d like to see each other again.
Stage 2: Infatuation with lots of Curiosity and Interest
After the formalities of the meeting and the start of regular communication, there is usually a very high level of attraction, and you want to find out everything you can about this fantastic person you met.
In the early stages of attraction, we are more focused on the individual’s physical appearance, whether we’re aware of it or not, and we look at things like body type, specific aspects of outward appearance that we find appealing, and also the individual’s personal interests and personality traits that make them special.
During this stage, both individuals try to look their best for the other, meaning that they are concealing any weaknesses they think may disturb or even repulse their new partner. So, in a way, there is a level of concealment taking place here in order to “seal the deal.”
On the other hand, if one individual is to notice something that may not be completely in their book of favorite things they want in a partner, the infatuation has already taken over, and it’s common for people to believe that these things will change later on. My partner lacked spontaneity, and I initially thought I can inspire them to develop that quality, which is a perfect example.
However, even though these differences may be there and both parties may be aware of them, the possibility of conflict or even just sitting down for some constructive dispute resolution are minimal. This is because both parties are on a mission to impress each other, and on top of that, infatuation makes things look rose-colored, no matter what they are.
Have you ever been in this situation and you’re wondering “what can I do to get this individual to like me more?” Picking out an outfit for a date is a good example, but in this stage, which is Stage 2, it also involves displaying only facets of yourself you think your partner will find most attractive like hiding the fact that you are short-tempered or have little patience.
This behavior is a hundred percent natural, and by being aware of it, you can take advantage of it to see if there is anything more beneath the layer of infatuation.
Finally, the longer this phase lasts, the better, because eventually, you’ll get to know each other completely as you are. After a month or two (or even less), you may start to wonder if the relationship is heading in any specific direction, which is a great indicator that you need to sit down, lock the infatuation away for an hour or so, and think about everything you’ve experienced so far.
Taking it slow when it comes to making any decisions about a relationship will lead to better decisions unless you feel that you need to end the relationship, which will be a quick decision.
Stage 3: The Moment of Insight and How it Leads to Becoming a Couple
For the moment of insight to happen, you need to be mostly over your infatuation for your partner. This partly happens physiologically because the feeling of infatuation is caused by a neurotransmitter in the brain. So, when everything is back to normal, you have the opportunity to make a deeper connection with your partner if it feels right.
Ideally, this deeper connection should focus on trust and friendship as you’ve had lots of time to focus on physical attraction. Don’t rule out anything physical, though, it’s good to keep things balanced.
If you haven’t previously, it’s natural for couples to now become themselves and stop hiding things they see about themselves as shortcomings. This is good for the development of the relationship because accepting each other unconditionally is very important for long-term relationship success.
You may find yourself becoming irritated with some of your partner’s behavior you previously found attractive or cute, and differences you noticed previously but didn’t pay much attention to will now become topics of discussion.
This means you’re taking notice of differences that you may have seen earlier in the relationship but with a more rational mindset, and many partners will try to sort out the differences or just complain about them.
Believe me, my partner and I both did as we realized that our relationship was initially built on things we had in common but there are also stark contrasts in our way of doing things. I’m messy and they are clean. I don’t mind conflict and they avoid it. It requires a new approach once you realize that these are new obstacles that need compromise from both sides.
At the same time, you’ll find that you now learn more about your partner than you did in the previous state of infatuation, and what you learn can either be pleasing or not.
Here’s where you officially start to think about the future with our partner by your side. What are your plans for the long term? However, keep in mind that if one of you is not ready to give an answer, pushing it will do more harm than good. On the other hand, you also can’t wait forever, so it’s best to tune into that gut feeling.
This is a critical stage, so there is no need to rush it; in fact, going slowly and making sure you are both on the same level will help create a steadfast bond that is perfect for a long-term commitment.
Stage 4: Commitment or Engagement
When you’re ready for a real commitment, which can mean getting engaged and married or just moving in together, you should know each other inside and out. You should know your partner’s values, fundamental beliefs, aspirations, and pet peeves.
It’s also ideal that you’d have met your partner’s family and friends at this stage and are close to them or, at the very least, get along.
Talk about your intentions and decisions openly and honestly and be honest, firstly with yourself, about what you want for the future. Children, careers, finances, and where you’re headed is all part of this discussion. If there are differences, make sure to come to an understanding or sort them out before committing.
Finally, make sure that you have the communication skills you need for your relationship, like active listening and putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Communication is king.
Stage 5: Taking full responsibility and reaping the benefits
Taking full responsibility means that you are ready to become a team for life through the good and the bad. Thus, you’ve had opportunities to evaluate whether you can communicate effectively during times when things are not going as smoothly, so now is the time to show what you’ve got in the name of love and commitment.
Sometimes, it’s possible to turn the bad into better or even good. Do it as a team and you’ll never regret choosing each other.