The Eight Stages of Relationships: Part One

Relationships are predictable. All of them go through stages as they grow and develop. And this includes romantic relationships.

What stage is your relationship in?

Or, if you are not in a relationship, at what stage do your relationships always end and why?

Identifying the stages of your relationship and the attributes, stumbling blocks and joys of each stage can help you negotiate through them with more success, peace and love.

Stage One: The Honeymoon
According to love songs and fairytales, this stage is what love is supposed to be like. You meet, you connect, you fall in love. Everything seems right. Nothing seems out of place. Even if some things don’t seem right, you are full of hope they will work themselves out.

When it starts and how long it lasts: This stage can start from day one, but it’s usually in effect within the first month and can last between three to six months.

The joy: You feel more alive, more expanded, more in touch with life, beauty, joy, maybe spirituality, and perhaps yourself. You have hope. You feel exhilarated, or at least exited. You have fun. These are all very wonderful feelings and should be celebrated and enjoyed.

The stumbling block: You may overlook whether your partner is truly compatible with you and rush into the depth of the relationship too soon or with the wrong person. And this, in turn, can mean you will breakup and get hurt down the road.

What to do: Enjoy, have fun, but slow down and don’t count on a future together — yet. Get to know each other first. If you’re right for each other, there’s no reason to hurry — you’ll have a lifetime to spend together. And, if you’re wrong for each other, you’ll save yourself some heartache.

Stage Two: The Discovery
During this stage, the initial excitement of being together is subdued so you can actually discover who the other person really is. You and your partner begin to figure out each other’s quirks and neuroses, and you uncover things that bug you about each other. You also begin to discover what you truly love and respect about one another. Your communication should deepen to a soulful level, where you begin to open up.

When it starts and how long it lasts: This stage starts between three and six months and can last for a number of years, depending on how comfortable the couple is with self-disclosure and how fast or slow the couple wants to progress in emotional intimacy.

The joy: The joy is the discovery; you are close enough to be able to glimpse the other person, his or her vulnerabilities, beauty, even quirks — which you may think are cute. The joy is also in seeing evidence that you have chosen the right person (if in fact you have such evidence), as well as in deep communication and budding emotional intimacy.