Relationships are curious things. From the moment we meet someone, we don’t realise that we are actually entering the beginning of a process. Being in a relationship isn’t as straight forward as we think and there are different stages that we will go through. It is quite important to recognise them and their particular characteristics, as it will empower you to understand what’s going on a little better, as well as allowing you to navigate potential difficult patches.
This is the first stage and quite obvious. You have just met and everything is good. Everyone is on their best behaviour, the object of your affections could do no wrong and you will wonder where they have been ‘all your life’. The hormones and chemicals in both your brains are raging, you can’t get enough of each other and it feels like your world has been shaken up and completely changed.
The honeymoon period will last a few months and allows the couple to create a deep bond. It is actually preparing them for the next phase, which is probably the most crucial and difficult stage of any relationship.
This phase can last up to 2 years and will either make or break the relationship. This is where both party will assert themselves, show their real personalities and when boundaries are tested. This is often the time when people think that their partner has changed from when they first met them. This is in essence true, as the person expresses what is important to them and their true colours: This is me, like it or lump it’… Both parties will need to either accept one another and the true selves that are now coming out or leave.
This is the time when you have the most chances of splitting up because you will either not like the person you are coming to know or the arguments will become so bad that you will question what you saw in them in the first place. It will highlight your compatibility and determine whether or not you have similar values, or going in the same life direction.
Once the limits have been pushed and the boundaries established, you will enter a more stable phase. You both know where you stand with each other and you still want to be together. Getting through the power struggle stage will have strengthened the relationship, which should now be quite solid and have firm foundations.
Now that you know the good, the bad and the ugly points of your significant other, there will be a desire for security and the need for a certain level of commitment. This doesn’t necessarily have to be marriage but something that will be acceptable for both parties.
At this stage, should no compromise be reached in terms of committing to one another, the relationship will be at risk, as one or the other party will be seeking some form of reassurance, which will need to be met.
This is the phase that most couples (quite obviously) aspire to, but it is important to remember that the fire should still be rekindled from time to time. This is not a time to take each other for granted, you will still need to evolve in the same direction.
This is clearly general guidance as we are all different and sometimes, life events will threaten the status quo. It is important to remember at all stages that a relationship should be healthy and based on a mixture of give and take. If it isn’t, you will need to question whether it is really right for you… and for them.