Relationships experience ups and downs. They also often follow a pattern that’s pretty common to most people. That’s because you and your partner enter several different stages as you progress through your relationship. And those stages prompt certain reactions and require different actions. Here’s how to deal with each stage effectively.
The Attraction Stage
You’re not quite dating yet. This stage starts from the moment you meet until the moment that you actually define your relationship. Essentially, you and your partner are courting. You’re going on dates and spending time together, but you’re in a place where you’re still getting to know each other.
During this stage, you need to figure out just how far your attraction goes. Is it purely physical? Or are you developing something that goes beyond the physical? This stage ends when you address what you want and figure out if you’re on the same page.
The Honeymoon Phase
The honeymoon phase is often looked at as the most pleasant of the stages. You’ve already addressed what you both want, you call each other your partner and know the other person is doing the same. You’re just enjoying being with each other. The honeymoon period is when you get to know each other, figuring out not only likes and dislikes, but how your partner lives. You’re getting a lot more insight than you did in the attraction stage.
The issue with this phase is that you’re still walking on eggshells around each other. There’s a fear of moving beyond the honeymoon stage because you want to enjoy this period for as long as possible. You’re afraid to address some issues because you know it means running the risk of conflict. That said, you need to dig deeper than happiness if you want to grow as a couple.
The Confrontation Stage
Now you’ve gotten to know each other better and you’re much more comfortable together. That’s a great thing, but it can also create some friction. While you were courting, you were on best behavior. It’s not as if you lied about who you are, but you were only letting them see surface level you. Now they know you in a deeper way. Spending all that time together and getting to see your quirks means that annoyances might rise up. All the little issues can bottle up and explode if you don’t address them, so deal with them openly.
If you have a problem with the fact that your partner seems to be spending more time with their Xbox than with you, don’t just call them out on it. Speak to them calmly with a rational game plan. They need their outlet and time alone. You need more time together. Create a plan of action where you both get what you need. Breakups often happen in this stage because both partners suppress their feelings until it comes out in an ugly way. It’s important to understand that you’re not trying to win your way. You’re trying to find a consensus.
The Stability Stage
In this stage, you’re working to find a way to keep your relationship stable. This can be both a positive and a negative. Stability can mean feeling loved and unafraid. You know that, no matter what happens, you have someone on your side. There’s something that makes you feel safe and warm knowing that.
But it can also mean that you’re a little stuck in your routine. You’ve gotten very used to each other and date nights can go out the window in favor of watching Netflix together because it’s comfortable. The courting stage is long over and you no longer feel the need to put in the kind of wooing work you used to. But every relationship, regardless of stage, needs a little sparkle.
The Commitment Stage
Commitment doesn’t have to mean a wedding ring. I does mean that you’re in it for the long haul. You’re still going to argue, but that’s OK because you can handle not always agreeing. You understand consensus and compromise are integral to a healthy relationship. You continue to do small things to remind each other of the love you share.
Basically, the commitment stage is all of the four former stages, combined and open-ended. You accept that both stability and keeping the flame alive takes work. At the end of the day, commitment looks different for everyone. Knowing that relationships aren’t always perfect is key. Sometimes you’re going to head into choppy waters, but you’re going to be navigating those seas together.