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Relationship Tips & Advice
If you're in a relationship with a man, you may be wondering what are the stages of a relationship? After all, you want to know where you stand with this guy.
There are four stages that you go through in every relationship that gets serious. And you definitely want to recognize each of the stages as you go through them.
The reason you need to know what those stages are is because:
Because the biggest mistake you can make is to think you are further along than you actually are. Many women do this and end up ruining the relationship because they assumed the relationship was more serious than it actually was.
I'm going to help you avoid that mistake here right now.
Keep in mind that different couples will spend more or less time in each of the stages. There is no right or wrong, there is only your experience.
But generally speaking, you should never rush any of the stages. The more you take your time with each of them, the more likely you will make it to the next one.
Don't try to map these to the zodiac, what your fortune teller told you, or any other method. You should always be using your rational mind as much as you can during the process of romance.
Relationships already have far too much emotion in them, and you have to balance that with smarts.
Something else to remember is that even if you don't recognize all of the stages, you still go through them. Even if they don't seem to have a hard boundary that tells you you've entered one and left another.
Let's start right off with -
This is the romance stage of the relationship. Every single relationship goes through this phase.
Some even call this the honeymoon stage. Because it's that early part where everything is just amazing between you and him. And somewhere inside we recognize that it can't last. It can still be fresh and fun, but it can't be quite this passionate forever.
It starts out a bit awkward, and then gets pretty hot and heavy.
This is also the highest energy part of the relationship. Things are dialed up to "11" in every way.
This is the stage where love hormones start to cement the feelings of bonding between you and your loved one. And there are a bunch of these love chemicals in your system…
Yeah - it's quite busy in that brain of yours when you're in the throes of romance. The reason for all those chemicals in your brain is so that you will form a lasting bond with him- lasting long enough for you to to mate and have children.
Of course this is the biological response, not the intellectual response you might have thought was going on.
The biggest mistake that couples make is to think that they have conscious control over the beginning stages of romance. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, we are really only paying attention to warning signs when they come up. It's very rare either the man or woman are looking at the red flags or evaluating the relationship based on what they really want.
Most of the start of a relationship is on autopilot. And that's why this stage is so very dangerous.
If you don't take a conscious step to really think about what's going on in the relationship, it's very likely that you will find yourself in love with somebody that may not be a very good fit.
Here are some of the other characteristics of this stage:
The first order of business is always lust. You feel constantly driven to your sexual desires with him. Chemistry reigns supreme.
All you ever want to do is see each other and touch each other. Which of course re-triggers all those love chemicals in your brain, making you even more attached and wanting it more.
Watch out for those feelings of withdrawal in between. When you cycle up and down like this, it's exactly like being addicted to a drug and not be able to get enough.
You're completely focused on how great they are for you, and very little time is spent looking at the differences between you. You ignore their flaws. And pretty much all you can see are the good things about the relationship.
During this stage you are highly sensitive to him pulling away from you or becoming distant in any way. It throws you into panic mode.
You have to watch out for this because you might wind up being stuck in a relationship you really don't want to be in. You'll find you are more concerned with not losing this guy instead of whether or not he's the right guy in the first place.
The reality is that you will be avoiding conflict during the early stages of love. We try not to fight so that we can see if there's potential for the romance to grow.
But this is very unrealistic, and unsustainable. Every relationship has to land on solid ground eventually.
This love and romance stage of the relationship typically lasts about three months. But the afterglow of a really powerful physical connection can last for a couple years even. The interesting thing is that many people find themselves married before they even get to the next stage.
Every relationship has to wake up and smell the reality of connecting meaningfully.
Yes, this is the place where you start to forge a sexual relationship. It's a pretty important stage of the relationship, and I have to point it out.
(NOTE: I really don't address any relationships that function on abstinence until marriage. It's simply not realistic anymore - if it ever was. It's nearly impossible to keep moving forward with a relationship without some kind of sexual contact.)
When you have sex, you change the nature of the relationship for good. As a matter of fact most of those love chemicals from Stage 1 get released in your brain before, during, and after sex.
This is a pretty big decision point as you have committed to a certain level of physical intimacy that you can never really turn back from.
The real mistake, though, would be to go here too soon.
You gotta be sure you're ready to take this step with someone. Make sure you have at least a basic understanding of where they want to go with a relationship.
Jumping into bed with someone is not how you force a relationship toward commitment. In fact, not knowing how to handle this stage can often push you into an early breakup.
And this leads us to the next step -
This is probably the hardest phase of love for most couples to make it through. This is the disillusionment stage.
This is when you start seeing the flaws in the relationship. It usually starts to happen when you get used to regular sex and physical affection with your loved one.
When the power of those love chemicals starts to wane, you start to regain control of your rational mind. The only problem is if you find flaws that are big, you're now probably addicted to this person. And they may be addicted to you. Cementing you in a relationship that shouldn't last.
This stage is also called the disappointment stage. We feel a certain level of disappointment that the relationship can't maintain the high that it started with.
This stage can take about a year for most couples. They spend most of the time working through their differences.
They may also be working on their communication if they are relatively mature people. If they're not mature, they usually just keep fighting until they break up.
And the unfortunate side effect is when they break up and then only blame it on the other person. Carrying their issues into the next relationship again and again.
To make it through this stage into the next stage requires you to really communicate and work through your issues. But even then some couples can fight like cats and dogs and still stay together.
"Good relationships can have their challenges, but if you're communicating with integrity, they're not that difficult..."
- CARLOS CAVALLO
Again, a big mistake most couples make is trying to avoid conflict. Conflict is necessary as a catalyst for driving the relationship deeper.
When we work through our arguments constructively, we create a pattern of reliable connection with our partner. Which then makes us feel even safer in their presence.
This is especially true for men who really need a sense of safety in order to connect with a woman.
Remember: Avoiding disagreement points back to your insecurities, not a weaknesses in the relationship.
It's not a healthy relationship if you can't handle conflict within it. Without an understanding that conflict is necessary, you will contemplate breakups and divorce - mistaking your challenges for a lack of compatibility.
Something else that many couples do is they mistake the small stuff they disagree about for being big stuff. Most of the things that you argue about aren't even all that important in the big picture.
But the fact that you're arguing at all starts to shake you up and challenges your ideas about what a relationship should be.
Couples that do not find their ability to pull together during difficult times typically break apart. Again, they may mistake their disappointment as "we're incompatible!" - instead of just a disillusionment about what a relationship really is.
In order to make your relationship advance, you have to take off the rose colored glasses and accept that love and romance is nothing like a fairytale. Happily-ever-after is a fantasy for those who aren't ready or willing to grow.
Which is actually a very good thing.
The relationships that make it through this disappointment stage are usually evolved and stable, as long as they learned healthy patterns of communication and how to navigate (not avoid!) conflict.
Work on your communication and your trust and you should make it through no problem to the next stage -
If you can make it through the challenges of disillusionment, you're now ready to steady your boat. This is the time you will build your stability for the years to come.
If you manage to keep seeing each other and still feel attracted to each other, while you mostly get past your disagreements, you are in the stabilizing phase.
In fact, this is really the home stretch. It simply requires you to continue working on your trust, your communication, and maturing the relationship.
This is also a challenge in all the stages, but shows up here typically first. If you've been able to make things work, sometimes you find that the calmness seems almost boring. You may mistake the pleasant peace you have for boredom.
Many of the cultures based on media and entertainment find that they believe that love should be like a romantic comedy movie. All excitement and adventure all the time. Nothing ever gets ordinary.
And so when they find themselves at peace or relaxed in a relationship, they start to wonder what's wrong. And then their eye starts to wander as they wonder where that fantastic sexual excitement disappeared to. Never realizing that now's the time to deepen the relationship.
Wanderlust is when we start looking around for something new to feel that sense of excitement again.
There is a counterpoint to this wanderlust: You also realize that to start again you have to go through all that work all over again. And that balances out the need to stray. As long as you keep the communication and connection close to both of your hearts, this is not a problem.
Now that the chase is over, things seem more ordinary. The relationship might even seem kind of routine.
This is not to say that the routine is all bad. It feels good to get to a place where you don't have to ride the roller coaster of romance all the time. And again most mature couples figure this out for themselves.
If you are young, or not all that mature, you may find yourself needing to jump back out into the dating market once again.
Now, these challenges are very often offset by a sense of steadiness between you. And the fact that you have an investment in each other that is now starting to pay off.
You have shared history, and proven that you have at least some of what it takes to make a long-term relationship work together.
This stage of studying and stabilizing your relationship typically takes a couple of years.
Although, you can't classify yourself as stable just because you been together for a long period of time. There are many couples that stay together in unhealthy ways. What you have to do is look at your own happiness first.
If you can look at the relationship objectively and feel happy, fairly safe, and loved, you're probably in a good spot.
Which will then set you up for the next stage -
This is the last stage of a relationship. It's when you have fully matured your feelings and communication into a healthy long-term relationship.
This doesn't mean that the challenges are over. Not by a long-shot.
Very few couples ever make it this far in a relationship. Even if they get married.
Does that shock you? Again, we assume that if a couple has been together for a long period of time, that means they must have figured something out.
Not really. It just means they figured out how to stay together in spite of the things that aren't working out.
Even if the divorce rate never climbed again, it's not reassuring to know that less than one in two marriages stands a chance of lasting.
As a comedian once said:
"Would you ever do anything that has such a high potential for complete heartache, heartbreak, misery knowing that you had a 50-50 chance?
"Imagine if your skydiving instructor told you that your parachute only opens half the time. Still wanna get in that plane?"
And the reasons that relationships don't work out have nothing to do with probability. You're not really flipping a coin in a relationship.
What most people are doing is failing to grow.
They simply can't find it within themselves to keep the relationship alive and vibrant by keeping themselves alive and vibrant.
Remember the true long-term commitment is not something you do just once. You really do it every single day in a long term committed relationship. Whether you get married or not.
Every day you choose to stay with that person you are making that choice to commit - whether you consciously do it or not. Whether you say it out loud or not.
You renew your vows of being in a long-term committed relationship simply by continuing to stay there each day.
A famous man once said that choosing not to decide means you still have made a choice. I would probably agree.
It's the one ingredients that will carry you through all four stages no matter what.
If you have this ingredient you'll have a powerful sense of passion between you and him. Without it, it's very unlikely that your relationship will survive.
The magical ingredient for passionate love is:
Interestingly, most women don't know how to create desire in a man.
And it's not even regular desire that you want. You want him to feel irresistible desire for you…
When he feels this irresistible urge, he will cross any ocean, move any mountain, and do anything to win your love.
You know how to create this kind of desire in a man?