Thursday, March 12, 2015

10 Stages of Romantic Relationship

If you ever experienced long-term romantic relationship, you may noticed that there are particular phases you are living through. You may rightfully guess that existence and character of such stages is not a factor of influence for your relationship only. There are indeed different stages of romantic relationship most couples go through to particular extent.

Since you have personal experience, try to guess first which stages you remember in your relationship from moment you met to the present. Then, compare your observation with the scheme outlined below. Understanding the standard framework will help you manage properly and preserve healthy relationship with your partner over time.

So, no matter how the love starts, or what is your kind of love – nearly all couples go through the stages of love in their relationship as mentioned in this post. Understanding the different phases of love helps couples to move successfully into a better long-term relationship.

It is clear that the first excitement romance, bringing people together in the first place, is very different from the love which hopefully develop ten or thirty years later. Or the excitement may just eventually disappear, leaving emptiness and boredom in the family relations.

“Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” ~ Robert Frost.

Stages of Love Relationship

1. Romance and infatuation stage

The first romantic stage in interpersonal relationship is the most memorable and colorful. This is the first stage in every love relationship, and the excitement and emotional picks are usually associated with it.

This is the love, that Hollywood loves to promote as the only kind of love. Romantic love is wonderful, easy, and effortless. It is very spontaneous and alive. The feelings and perceptions that go through both people are that we are one; we are the same. You are perfect. I can give and receive love with little or no effort required. There is a tremendous emphasis on maximizing similarities and minimizing differences. There is a belief and expectation that you will provide most or all of my wants, needs, desires. There is generally a high degree of passion and feelings and expressions of romance come easily and often. The partners think about each other constantly, and make much eye contact and are very affectionate when they are together. Many people experience this as living in a state of near-constant bliss and infatuation. There is a belief that these feelings and experiences will go on forever, that 'we will never disagree on anything’ and that somehow fate or forces larger than themselves have brought them together.

Most people think they have found their soul mate when they are in this stage. However, behind the curtains it is actually the chemistry of love, that is taking place. All of this makes you feel euphoric, triggers positive moods, and boosts your energy levels. There is change in the personalities, sex drive, and you might even enter a state of fearlessness. With the chemical changes in the brain, sometimes you might even overlook major flaws in your partner, and rush into marriage before actually crossing this phase.

I know this romantic feeling feels great while it lasts, but it does not last forever even if you want it to. Captivation is the term that defines this phase, and is called by lovers as the sweetest among all stages of love relationship in life.

This stage generally lasts from six months to two years.

2. Disturbance stage

After some time of being together with each other, when the ‘love chemicals’ wear off, couples usually return to their normal selves with normal moods and sex drive. Everything starts getting back to normal, and instead of focusing exclusively on each other, couples become more involved with their daily duties and work.

Those who are not aware of this normal stage of love in a relationship might think they have fallen out of love. Sometimes they might even get seriousely upset by their partner’s lack of attention on them. Small bickering and fights are a normal part of this stage of love. But, sometimes confrontation is healthy as it helps you understand things better.

When you learn to confront and resolve issues and conflicts, it helps your relationship mature. If you are in this stage, you might wonder why your sex drive does not match your partners, or why theirs lessened, or why you annoy or anger your partner more now. You might make assumptions and opinion about your partner, and your expectations from each other tend to increase.

In this stage, it is common to feel as if someone or something or even Life itself has cheated you or robbed you of something precious, almost like a stage of grieving the loss of something innocent and wonderful. There is a desire to be close again but confusion as how to create that. It is the first time that fears of intimacy begin to arise.  Suddenly the couple must learn how to deal with very real differences, how to deal with conflict, and how to integrate being an independent person as well as someone in an intimate relationship.

When these assumptions and opinions differ in real life, it might leave you feeling ecstatic or depressed. What you need to do is hold on! The best is yet to come – even if you see a drop in your love relationship. Keep making the efforts and hope for the best.

Confrontation is the keyword that best defines this phase, because among all the stages of love relationship, this phase is really the testing period for a couple.

3. Changing stage

You might be having numerous expectations from your partner. Sometimes you might even try to mold them to be like the perfect partner you want to see them as. It is like a power struggle going on, and sometimes relationships end if one side dominates the other. Instead of seeing the similarities as you did in the romance stage, you focus on the differences and flaws of your partner.

Some couples might even break up and move on at this stage. This happens especially with those who date often, or do not fully commit, and look for love but find disappointment instead. Doubts arise as to whether the other person really loves you. There are consistent feelings of ambivalence and anger. Blaming and accusing becomes the most common form of interaction. Each partner is afraid of giving in, and wants the other to change. This is where deep resentments begin to form, which if left unchecked, become the cancer that eventually eats away at all the love and tenderness that has come before. Sarcasm and hostility enter into daily conversations.

This does not have to be the end of the relationship. The tasks for the couple here are to develop problem-solving, conflict resolution and negotiating skills. The conflicts will clearly not go away on their own. Each person much learn to listen respectfully to their partner's position, even if they don't agree with it. They must learn to support their partner's own growth, even if they feel it compromises their own. They may see the origins of the patterns of their conflicts (and their dysfunctional ways of resolving them) in their family of origin.

On the other hand, some couples survive through the pain and dissatisfaction of a relationship. They learn that a good relationship involves compromise and sacrifice, and you can improve your relationship with kindness.

It is noticed, that relationships are often at their all-time low after a decade or 10 years. If you cross this stage, you might as well carry on for the rest of your life. The best word to describe this stage is confusion, and it is probably the most critical of all stages of love relationship.

4. Understanding stage

Those of you who have crossed all the above stages of love in your relationship and reached so far – it means you have begun to understand your partners better now. The understanding stage is a lot about give and take, and each partner tries to change the other to suit his or her needs.

Couples in this stage remain blissful and happy with each other, and they keep making efforts to work on their relationships to make things work. In this stage, both partners recognize and accept each other for who and what they are. They need to avoid misunderstanding and understand each other better than before.

In this stage, there is also a deeper sense of taking responsibility for one's part in conflict and in lack of satisfaction. Each person may recognize the link between what they learned as children in their families of origin and how they approach intimate relationships. They own their distortions and projections onto their partners. They begin to see their partner as they see themselves, as a somewhat flawed yet decent person who is making a sincere effort to love and be close and still take care of their own needs.

There is a deeper acceptance in this stage that any relationship cannot and will not save you in any sense. You still have your own individual needs and issues and they does not go away just because you are in a relationship. However, the part of your life that can be nurtured and shared in a loving, accepting relationship is also real and in this stage, each person looks to the other for that connection. The war is over, the conflicts are accepted, and there is a sincere desire to learn how to work through the issues to a satisfying resolution.

The stages of love in a relationship are not easy, but if you know how to move from one stage to another, it is not very tough either. To get past this stage, accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You need to focus on the positives, let go of the negatives, and explore each other’s goals and interest. Compromise best describes this stage, which sets the foundation for stability and defines an upward swing in the love relationship.

5. Discovery stage

Once a couple passes the above stages of love relationship, all the unrealistic expectations tend to fade away. Both sides start to discover more of each other, and make efforts knowing how they both can fit and work things together.

Couples start defining and clarifying their roles, commitment, and compatibility towards each other. They need to explore their relationship needs and their partners too. They need to decide on questions like how much time do they like to spend together or remain apart, how does each side like to express love, or receive it etc.

Once couples are able to communicate their needs effectively to one another, they can avoid many other things that can make a relationship bitter. They need to avoid unhealthy behaviors like avoidance, withdrawals, criticism, and defensiveness. Instead, focus on acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, and patience. Consolidation is the term for this phase that really sets the stage for real happiness in a love relationship.

6. Connection stage

Next comes the phase of love in a relationship in which the couples go deeper into trust, commitment, and connect with each other. This is the stage when they experience intimacy. They are even more supportive of each other, and share each other’s experiences as well.

Problems, or ups and downs, are part and parcel of every relationship. However, the trust both partners will have and the loyalty towards each other will carry them through these small problems. In this stage, you stop thinking about your own individual selves, and shift the focus to what works best for the relationship.

It is actually a stage of attachment when you feel connected, are one-to-one, and love each other a great deal. There is more of team spirit and oneness that further strengthens the relationship. This perhaps is the stage when you feel like a perfect match or made for each other. Some of you might even decide to get married once you have come this far.

Companionship is the term that defines this phase, as it is one of the best stages of love relationship.

7. Doubting stage

Well, at the certain point, most of you come across this stage when doubt starts to creep in. Usually, this stage comes after many years of being together with each other in a relationship. You might start thinking about your exes, your past relationships, or start comparing your present partner with another.

In this stage, everything is related to your relationship. If you are unhappy and hurt in your relationship – you tend to blame it on your partner for putting you through such trying times. You might even start comparing your relationship with other couples, and other relationships. Remember, you can cross this stage of love in your relationship if you are not dull and boring.

The main word associated with this stage is comparison, and this is one of the most critical of all stages of love relationship in your life.

8. Sexual stage

You would be surprise that sexual stage comes so late in the relationship timeline, but that is so. In this stage, your sex life plays a major role. Either the sex drives of both partners may change or one of you might get disinterested or over interested in sex. One of you may give up on sex, or keep looking for ways to make it more exciting. However, if there is a difference in sexual interests, one of you might even end up having an affair.

The answer lies to find creative ways to make your sex life more exciting, which might make your relationship better and bond both of you better. Coupling is the apt term to describe this stage of love relationship. Senior couple in pure love relationship

9. Trust stage

This is the ultimate stage when both partners love and trust each other totally. However, sometimes this kind of complete trust can also make you take each other for granted – so be careful there.

From all the above stages of love in a relationship, it is in this stage that you know the direction of your relationship. You are happy with each other, and know what to expect from each other too. Even though there is total bliss and understanding in this stage, don’t stop appreciating and take your partner lightly. That is because love needs to be worked up or nurtured all the time.

If you don’t keep your love fresh and alive, and fail to express your love to your lover more often, it can be rekindled by someone else.

This phase can be described as completeness, as among all the stage of love relationship this is the one where you feel complete.

10. Spiritual stage

This is among the toughest stages of love relationship to achieve for most people, though not impossible. It is more a willingness to help your partner fulfill his/her potential, without any selfish motive.

There is ongoing personal and spiritual growth for both partners. Unconditional love is perhaps achieved in this stage, when you become the best version of yourself.

Conjugation or unification best defines this stage of love relationship.

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” ~ C.G. Jung

Sources and Additional Information:

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