Relationships are complicated and confusing things, but there are five phases of a relationship to consider. Which one are you in right now?
When you’re in a new relationship, it’s all fun and fuzzy feelings. You probably don’t want to be away from your new beau for even a second, and you have no perception of that ever changing. The truth? Every relationship changes, it’s a cycle, and understanding the phases of a relationship can help you side-step problems and worries as your relationship evolves over time.
The phases of relationship under the spotlight
To give you the 101 on where your relationship might be, let’s check out the five main phases of a relationship. Whilst every single relationship is different, you’ll certainly be able to recognize a few key points to tell you where your union is on the scale.
Phase 1 – Romance with a capital R!
This is that warm and fuzzy period. It’s when you can’t keep your hands off each other and everything about that person makes you smile. They have faults, of course, but you can’t see them at this point. You’re also likely to be looking your best every time you do see them, because you don’t want them to see you looking anything less than that.
This is the famous butterflies phase or the honeymoon phase as it’s sometimes called. It’s fun, but it can’t last over the long-term like this.
Many relationships don’t make it past this point, but for the ones that do, it’s important to remember that this stage isn’t designed to last and if you notice that the major romance side of things is ebbing and flowing, it’s totally normal. Let it be, don’t worry!
Phase 2 – You start to notice their flaws
After the first few months of being so incredibly infatuated with your new beau that you try your best to avoid any type of argument, you slowly start to notice that they’re not perfect after all. This is one of the phases of a relationship which basically decides whether you make it or you break.
This phase lasts for a few months and in this period of time, you are likely to have your first arguments. However, this phase is also healthy because the pressure is relieved. You no longer feel the need to be a picture of perfection and you can see that the other person isn’t perfect either. However, you still have periods of time when you remember the romance of the previous phase, which keeps you ticking through.
Phase 3 – The learning stage
At this stage you’re starting to realize that you’re human and you’re not perfect. There might still be disappointments and conflicts, but you start to work out ways to handle them by communicating in a way which suits the two of you. For some people however, this stage is one of the hardest because communication can be hard.
Out of all the phases of a relationship, this is the learning phase. This is the point where you can learn how to handle one another and of course, where you can learn whether you want to remain in the relationship or whether it’s too difficult and you have too many differences.
Phase 4 – The waters calm
By the time you reach the fourth of the phases of a relationship, you’re starting to notice an equal playing ground and calmer waters around you. You’ve learnt how to handle one another, you’ve learnt each other’s flaws and positive points and you’ve accepted them. This phase can last for a considerable length of time, a few years in some cases and it’s the period of time where you will start to develop a sense of safety within the relationship.
The downside of this phase? The romance is likely to have flattened out and you might start to miss the butterflies and the chaos of the earlier stages. At this point, you need to work on keeping the magic alive if you really do start to feel a sense of boredom.
Phase 5 – The future
The final phase is based around a commitment to one another. You might choose to get married, you might not, but this is the point at which you’re in it for the long haul. Of course, many couples don’t manage to reach the fifth of the phases of a relationship, but for those who do, they’re totally in love and content with one another.
This doesn’t mean that in the fifth phase, you’ll be all over one another and feeling the magic of romance, because it’s likely to be far less eventful than that! You should keep making efforts to keep the magic going, but you should also realize that you could still argue and have problems too. We’re all human after all.
The biggest point of this phase? You are building a future together and you don’t want to risk messing that up by even looking at another person in a serious way.
Which phase are you in?
The length of time each phases lasts for really depends upon the couple and what’s going on in the relationship and around it. There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer here. However, you’ll probably be able to identify which of the phases of a relationship you’re in from reading so far.
The biggest issue that most couples face is the lack of romance as the phases move on. It’s not possible for everything to be as magical and sprinkled in fairy dust as the first phase. You’d be exhausted over the long-term! It could also be that a lack of romance could push one partner into the arms of someone else, but in that case you have to question what they’re actually looking for in a relationship.
It’s vital to remember that the connection you have is far more important than a quick thrill. Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why relationships fail, because couples don’t understand that jumping on one another constantly just isn’t something you can keep up for more than a few months at a time.
After that, you start to develop an emotional connection that is far more valuable and far more important than anything lust-related.
For the few relationships that make it to the fifth phase, that’s the forever goal. However, does it mean that the relationship truly will last forever? Not always.
Every single relationship has its problems and it’s vital that you don’t try and compare yours with anyone else’s. Again, this is another problem for couples, because they start to wonder why they’re not doing and feeling the same as another couple. The reason? Because you’re not the same people and your experiences will be different because of your unique personality traits and the history you’ve lived through.
Your past experiences will always influence your relationships in some way. But the key is to avoid these influences becoming negative. In the second and third phases, when most of the conflict and upheaval occurs, past baggage can cause major problems in some relationships. It’s vital that you remember your new relationship is totally different to anything you experienced in the past, and that your new partner is not your ex.
All unions go through the different stages – the famous honeymoon, can’t keep your hands off each other phase, before starting to unpick each other’s personalities and realize that everyone has flaws. That’s when the conflicts occur, but by learning to overcome these by understanding that nobody is perfect, you can make it to the fourth and even the fifth phase – perhaps towards forever.
The five main phases of a relationship move at their own pace, however it’s easy to spot the same pattern in every relationship. Which phase are you in now?