You’re probably not thinking about the different stages of a relationship while you’re with someone. And especially if the relationship is new or restarting after a breakup, it’s not likely on your mind. But if you understand the different stages of a relationship it can help you understand where you are and what’s yet to come.
Of all the stages of a relationship, the first stage is probably the most exciting. This is the romance stage, the beginning. There’s dating and getting to know each other, and each of you is on your very best behavior because you want to woo the other person.
This stage is often called the honeymoon period, because everything is fresh and new. Everything the other person does probably seems wonderful. You laugh at his jokes, and don’t mind the person’s flaws. In fact, you may even find his flaws endearing. Just like anything new, it can be a great deal of fun and seem adventurous.
The next two stages are the make or break stages that many couples never make it through. They account for things like very short relationships and marriages. The second stage is commonly known as the power struggle stage.
This is when the newness starts to wear off, and usually starts somewhere between six months to a year after the relationships starts. It’s during this time that things start to get serious. Everything isn’t as cute and endearing as it was in the beginning.
Each person in the relationship is trying to get his or her needs met, and they’re starting to notice where the other person falls short in doing that. If you’re in this stage, take a step back. The things you’re finding fault with in the other person are probably flaws that you have also.
If a couple can get through this stage, the relationship has a much better chance of lasting. Unfortunately, many couples try to change each other in the second stage. This leads to break-ups. Honest communication is the key to getting past it. Be understanding, and realize that you have shortcomings, too.
The third of the stages of a relationship is where you realize that you can’t change the other person, and you stop trying. If you came to that realization by talking with your partner and being understanding, then congratulations are in order!
This stage for you will be one of learning to be content with what the other has to offer and learning to take care of yourself. If the power struggle ended badly, then this is the stage where you’re likely to end the relationship.
The next stage is that of commitment. You realized you couldn’t change each other but you still made it work, and you know you want to be together. Now you can move on to a true partnership, which is the last stage.
Many couples bounce from stage 2 to 3 several times before moving on to commitment. By understanding the stages of a relationship, you’re at least aware of what’s happening and why.