What Kind of Stages Relationships Go Through


Just look at any couple of newlyweds, and you’ll see that love exists. They can’t take their eyes off each other. They’re happy and think that this overwhelming feeling will never end. It’s hard to believe that everything may change dramatically. But, unfortunately, the truth of life sometimes goes against all expectations. In a couple of years (or even earlier) of living together, tender feelings turn into quarrels and scandals.

Why does this happen? How can two people, who loved each other sincerely, say such terrible words to each other? What happened to that beautiful feeling that seemed endless? Nothing special, their relationship just moved to a new stage.

stages of a relationship

Do relationship stages really exist?

Starting a relationship and believing that life will become a euphoric honeymoon followed by idyllic and romantic love is like taking offense at a child for growing up. Nothing lasts forever, and sooner or later relationships between partners also begin to “grow up,” gradually reaching certain points where they stop evolving for some time. These points are called stages of romantic relationships.

A lot of couples break up because they consider the problems arising during their relationship stages as something abnormal. In reality, feelings between them simply upgrade, losing their naivety and turning into true intimacy, mutual understanding, and love. The main thing is not to stop and get stuck at one of the stages of a relationship. Treat each of them as a crucial and natural process on the road to something that really matters, like happiness, marriage, and family.

Any relationship, even the strongest one, goes through certain stages of development, but some think that the “right” type of relationship is a one long, happy day that lasts till death does people part. Such things happen only in movies and books. Understanding when different stages of relationships begin and end is very important because the main reason for most breakups is that both partners don’t know which of the stages in a relationship they’re going through. Feelings always evolve. Just don’t stand in their way.

7 stages of a relationship couples go through

And now, let’s go through the whole relationship stages timeline, starting from the very beginning.

1) Affection

It’s this stage that so many poems, love songs, and romantic movies are dedicated to. Couples in love literally lose their minds because of the feelings that overwhelm them. It’s a short period when you feel butterflies in your stomach, and it seems that gravity barely holds you in the material world. stages of romantic relationships​You feel like you’re ready to follow your loved one to the edge of the world. But while poets and singers find inspiration in affection, psychologists are skeptical towards its magic. “It's all about physiology,” they say.

The brain of a man in love begins strenuously producing a number of hormones responsible for a sense of pleasure and euphoria, blocking negative emotions and rational thinking. Those areas of the brain that are responsible for desires, motivation, attraction, and dependence are especially active at this stage. And here’s an interesting thing: these zones demonstrate the same reaction to cocaine! Brain’s activity of people in love and those who take this drug look very similar. Unlike other stages of relationships, such “chemical” or passionate love lasts only about 12-18 months. If this stage lasted longer, your body would’ve suffered from exhaustion, both nervous and physical. By the way, some people really lose weight when they fall in love.

Here’s what happens from a psychological point of view. A man and a woman, hit by Cupid’s arrow, begin discovering each other and experience the strong attraction. It’s like eating a delicious fruit you never tasted, and you want to feel this taste again and again. By the way, this stage is also called the honeymoon stage in a relationship.

2) Satiation

But any taste, even the most delicious one, can’t always stay new. Gradually we begin to get used to it and get fed up with it. As soon as you and your loved one begin to live together, consider that this stage is just around the corner. Some reach it in a year, while for others, it takes only several months, which is a lot faster than other stages of a relationship. The only way to prevent your relationship from reaching this stage is to keep some distance between you and your partner. That’s why romantic long-distance relationships develop much slower. When people get closer, they start noticing not only positive traits, but also shortcomings of their companions, and sometimes there are a lot of them.

3) Rejection

The stage of rejection comes when the “chemistry of love” stops working completely. Those rose-colored glasses fall off, and the person starts to doubt the partner and think if the choice he or she made is right. It’s here that first serious quarrels and fights begin. At this point, there are only two options: to learn how to accept the partner with all her or his drawbacks and proceed to other relationship stages or to stay on the “warpath,” trying to change your loved one according to your desires and needs. For many couples, this stage turns out to be a complete disappointment that leads to a breakup. At this stage, people often start to think that they picked the wrong partner.

It seems to them that everything would have turned out differently with another person. They end old relationships and start new ones, but once they reach the same stage, they feel disappointed again and begin looking for “a perfect relationship” one more time. If you fail to move to a new level, your quest to find that special someone can last a lifetime.

4) Patience

By the time couples reach this stage, they’re already married. In traditional society, religious and cultural traditions contribute to the preservation of marriage, but in modern society, these traditions are greatly weakened. So the only thing that helps people get through this difficult stage is self-improvement. Many understand this and seek help from psychologists, read thematic literature, and attend various seminars. Usually, the crisis of the third year of relationship coincides with the third and fourth stages of romantic relationships, and this is the very moment when the love boat hits daily routine. By the beginning of the fourth stage, many couples already have kids, and all the attention is drawn to them. Relationships become more casual. But since couples already have common goals and share property and children, they can’t follow their individual emotions and desires anymore. Therefore, they have to accept the situation they got themselves into.

But the task of this stage is not to make people get used to the hardships of family life. After all, most goals will be achieved, and kids will grow up sooner or later. Then the old problem will occur again, and the couple will feel that the “glue” that kept them together all these years is gone, and now they’re facing an unresolved issue once again: what to do with each other. The task of this stage is different. Patience towards each other is the path to wisdom and true love. It’s a step that helps defeat selfishness, accept the individuality of your loved one, and understand that “if you want to change something, start with yourself.” If you know how to respect not only your own opinions and desires but also the needs of your partner and see her or him as an individual and not raw material for making a perfect spouse – you’re ready to move further to other stages in a relationship. Sure, there are still quarrels at this point, but they’re easy to overcome.

5) Mutual support

In fact, only from this stage, we begin to approach the concept of “Love” as it is. At the beginning of relationships, it may seem that both partners have already achieved it, and they’re ready to do anything for each other just because they want to. But it’s the kind of knowledge you can achieve only after a while when the “chemistry of love” fades away and partners’ actions are guided by their true beliefs and not endorphins. different stages in relationshipsIf their motives were rather egocentric in the previous stages of a romantic relationship, now they perceive each other not as a source of pleasure, but as someone they’re going to spend life with. If we want another person to fulfill our desires, this person may not appreciate it, but if we show the willingness to serve her or him, she/he will be glad to accept our help. And over time, this person will want to do the same for us, and that’s how mutual support develops. In the east, such tradition is still alive, and for most people there, it’s perfectly clear that love won’t appear by itself. It has to be nurtured; it must be earned.

6) Respect

This is the result of all the previous stages of love in a relationship. People already know each other well, and they have gone through a lot. Both partners learned how to support each other and get over misunderstandings, without demanding something in return. The couple develops gratitude and credit of trust to each other. They already can easily share energy, thoughts, and feelings.

7) True love

This is the long-awaited feeling that matured due to patience, understanding, and care. A couple successfully went through different stages in relationships, they understand each other without a word, experiencing a tremendous pleasure from being with each other. It’s a true spiritual achievement, and only very few reach this level. When we get wiser, we can begin to experience the love that lies beyond attraction and respects the unique individuality of our loved ones. We begin to understand that our partner is a mirror that reflects the invisible aspects of our true essence and helps us become better.

In conclusion

All relationship stages are characterized by mutual respect. Don’t try to change your partner. You need to start with yourself. It can be difficult for us to cope with our own negative traits, but for some reason, this doesn’t stop us from trying to change the long-formed personality, the person that already likes herself or himself as she/he is. Only careful partners’ attitude to each other will strengthen relationships and guarantee peace and family happiness.

Don’t forget that love is the best soil for self-improvement and personal growth. After all, it’s in the relationships that all the strongest and weakest aspects of the character get revealed. It’s necessary to understand that it’s up to you to decide whether your relationship will direct you towards self-improvement or become a pit, where grievances and unfulfilled desires will be accumulated.

Very few people know what love is. Ninety-nine percent of people, unfortunately, think that sexuality is love. But it’s not. Sexuality and passion are primitive. It certainly can grow into love, but it’s not true love; it’s only the opportunity.