From new love to lasting love, relationships go through five phases.
My daughter-in-law qualified for the Boston Marathon by running in a local marathon, making it by an amazing three seconds! She was really hurting the last five miles. A stranger saw her and began to walk-run alongside her, subtly encouraging her. She could hardly speak but managed to whisper that it was helping. And it wasn’t long before she was able to dig deep again and find whatever that thing is what drives a person to persevere to cross a finish line.
It’s similar to relationships: passing through stages, getting support along the way, digging deep inside for answers and staying-power, and making it to the finish line called “real love.”
What’s the secret for getting through the stages? I recently published a book on relationships. And while writing it, I asked a woman in her 20’s whether her generation would read a book on relationships. She said, “No, they’re confident that they already know what they need.” Then I asked a man in his 30’s whether his generation would read a book on relationships. And he said, “No, they’ll just switch partners.” I thought about stopping my writing. Even my son said to me, “Mom, just give it to me in one sentence.”
So here’re the 5 Stages of a Relationship
Stage One — Romance
When my husband, Ron, and I began our relationship, I was helping to renovate a building and spending a lot of time in the attic, shoveling old insulation into garbage bags. Since we were in the romance phase, Ron was ecstatically happy to help me with the shovel. So we turned on music and danced on the beams. He wrote poems for me, and he learned to play “Georgia on My Mind” on a borrowed guitar. We jumped in the ocean with our clothes on. Even shopping for groceries together felt mystical.
Related article- 5 Ideal Ways You Can Keep The Romance Alive In Your Relationship
Stage one is the romantic phase. At this point, falling in love is amazing, and we feel complete. We can’t get enough of each other. And neither of us can do anything wrong. Life is perfect, and we’re uncharacteristically positive. We’re both on our best behavior because we only want to impress and please each other.
We let our defenses down. “Finally, someone who understands me!” What’s wrong with this wonderful picture? If we build a relationship with the calculated behavior presented during the romance phase, instead of who the person really is, we’ll be surprised when we meet the rest of the person.
Would you like to understand relationships scientifically? Watch out world-renowned relationship expert John Gottman explaining the science of love.
Stage Two — Reality Check
Once, when Ron and I argued, he walked out of the driveway to take a short time-out. And he just kept walking — through the night along a country road for eighteen miles to a friend’s house! He expected me to come looking for him, but that’s not my style. The next morning, the friend called to let me know that he was OK.
Ron expected me to come to get him, but that’s not my style either. Eventually, he got a ride home, we talked it out, and he admitted that it had been pretty scary, walking through the pitch-dark, especially when he’d crossed the bridge and could hear, but not see, the river rushing below. Funny guy. He should’ve been way more worried about the possibility of a copperhead warming itself on the asphalt.
Out of the 5 stages of a relationship, stage two is a reality check. Now we wonder, “What happened to the person I first knew?” Of course, we’re no longer in a relationship with that person because now we’re interacting with the flaws that weren’t visible through our romance filter. Surprise! “This person has flaws!” What was cute in the beginning is now annoying. We’re often frustrated, and we have painful disagreements. A helpful tip for stage two: Examine whether it’s possible to say to your partner: “I accept you just as you are, and you don’t need to change to meet my expectations.”