Stages Of A Committed Relationship: How To Cycle Through Them

Getting into a new relationship can be a scary thing to do, especially after you got your heart shredded into pieces or you’ve been single for a while. And getting to that happily-ever-after stage can be daunting for most. Nothing comes easy, all that’s required is patience and an understanding that love is a cycle, not a destination.

Here’s everything you need to know about the five stages of a relationship and what skills couples need to weather each stage.

The attraction stage
Getting to know each other, feeling excited, and viewing the relationship in an idealized way. It often involves the “honeymoon” phase, High-dopamine moments, being unable to see each other’s flaws, trying to get the other person to like you, and not seeing or acknowledging any incompatibility or differences. This stage is normally categorized as infatuation or worse, Lust! My advice is to move strategically. Get candid advice from friends who can ensure you’re not missing any truly worrisome red flags while under this biochemical love potion.

Adjusting to Reality
Being more in touch with yourself and your needs; looking at the other person more critically and questioning if they are right for you. This often involves the infatuation settling down, becoming more of oneself, observing each other’s flaws, figuring out each other’s values, and evaluating a future together. At this point, the skills of conflict management are essential. Remember that power struggles and arguments are normal parts of a relationship and you’ll need to learn to identify the difference between healthy disagreement and unhealthy control issues. Because this is the stage where you’re starting to recognize your differences, this second stage of a relationship is also a good time to learn your love languages.

Coupling stage
Deciding to get more serious, long-term, or committed, cultivating a deeper emotional connection; having shared routines or rituals. This stage often involves letting your guard down, being more vulnerable, sharing insecurities, building trust and communicating, dealing with conflict, and accepting each other. This is where you become boyfriend and girlfriend, or whichever. You guys are what we call, Official!

Disillusionment stage
Feeling bored or disconnected in the relationship, taking each other for granted, being weighed down by responsibility (finances, work or children). It often involves seeking freshness or novelty, valuing your partner and still feeling disconnected, needing to be reassured, and making it through or falling apart. There may be a lot of negative energy in the relationship at this stage. To offset this, practice showing affection even when upset. You may feel angry and be aware that something isn’t working that you need to talk about—but still go to dinner and a movie together?

Co-Creation Stage
Reconnecting and nurturing the relationship, working on reviving the relationship, trying new things, and choosing to stay committed. This stage will involve you being okay with being bored at times, valuing the person, their presence, the comfort, and the companionship, choosing to commit over and over again, growing within oneself plus growing within the relationship. At this stage couples experience true individuation, self-discovery, and the acceptance of imperfection in both themselves and their partners, recognizing there is no such thing as a “perfect match.