Think back to a time when you first started dating someone. How was that like? It was pretty much all love and romance and secret laughs and promises for tomorrows, right?
There were calls made every second and texts to ask how the other was. 6 months down the line, and the need to know what the other was doing at every minute was gone. There were some struggles here and there, but the understanding of the other had deepened.
Another 6 months down the line and you would have found that your relationship had acquired some newer meaning altogether. What you were as a couple in the first month of a relationship changed into something more (at some levels) and something less (at some other levels). And that is what the stages of a relationship are all about.
If you've noticed, no romantic relationship can ever be at a plateau period. It won't survive it. There has to be a change in the relationship with time. The ups and downs bring with it a change in the levels of acceptance, understanding, struggles, bonds formed, and the commitment.
But how can anyone limit an extensive topic like relationships into stages? Actually, you can. No matter how personal or exclusive you think your experiences in your relationship are, all couples go through the same stages. So what are the different stages of a relationship and what do they signify? Care to find out? Read on.
The Different Stages
Why do we need to know what the different stages in a relationship are? Because if you do, you'll know the logic and reason behind that mindless argument you might have had, without so much as a clue why; because it might help you in preventing fights and struggles and taking them to a whole new level; and because it will give you a chance to take the relationship to what a relationship should be in the true sense of the word.
Love is in the Air
Let's call this one the romance stage. Actually it is also called the courtship and fantasy stage. Every relationship will essentially start out with this one. This stage is all about the time when those love songs start making sense. The need to be with the other is supreme, spending all that time together is essential, and doing all that corny stuff is so much fun.
Staring into each others' eyes and living on love. Right. What's the reality of this stage then? The foremost need here is to please the other, and you're on your best behavior because of that. Nothing the other does is considered wrong and differences are often ignored.
This stage works on a superficial level because what you are in this stage is not the entire picture. The layer of love has to melt before you even start making sense of the true nature of the relationship. But that comes in the later stages. In this stage, you're just head over heels and sickeningly in 'love'.
A Mere Human? You?!
This one's the reality stage. The 'Let's-show-you-what-he/she-is-really-like' stage. So that thing you liked about him cricking his neck, suddenly starts to get annoying or the Aww... look how long she takes in the bath' starts to get to you.
What is going on? The romance is taking a nap to let the reality set in. Now you know that the other is―a mere human. Complete with flaws, baggage, insecurities, and bad habits.
Welcome home relationship issues. This stage is like a bubble bursting for most cause they've just known the high that comes from the romance stage and to suddenly be faced with reality like this can get tough. Yet, most survive the stage because the after-effects of the romance stage last. Just keep your cool and hold on to the communication tool with dear life.
I Could Kill You!
Too harsh? Well, a lukewarm version of 'If only I could kill you' then. In this stage, the differences begin to not only show, but fester into a constant power struggle (that is what this stage is also known as). In this, the differences start making way into fights and arguments, and resolving them becomes difficult. It is in this stage that many couples call it quits because there is so much bitterness involved. However, there are couples who get through this stage as well with honest communication and tremendous patience.
You Aren't That Bad
So much struggle happening in the stage preceding this one, there is bound to be a feeling of being physically and emotionally strung out. So what does one do? One begins to re-evaluate their relationship, if they are still together that is, and many of them realize that what they thought to be really unbearable in the other is not really that bad at all. This stage is also known as the stability and re-evaluation stage.
In this stage, the couple usually relies on the familiarity that they've built with the other and try making it work into a healthy relationship. They understand that their differences aren't as deep as they were made out to be, and that adjusting with the other and being happy is possible. This is also the stage when you start reacquainting with all your old friends and are comfortable and secure enough in your personal relationship to be yourself.
The Real Thing, At Last
Going through all those stages to reach this stage (aka Acceptance or Transformation stage), is no easy task. This stage is that zen-feeling stage. You know, and I mean really, really know your partner inside out, and accept him/her for what he/she is. All those struggles and fights don't disappear, of course, but they don't take you to the 'make or break' stage either. You accept your partner completely and that is how you get ready to experience the true feeling of love. Not a disillusioned, romance novel kind of love, but that of acceptance and mutual respect.
Since it is a relationship, there will be fights and squabbles―even if you've crossed all the stages of a relationship. But there will also be those moments of sharing and so much caring and the memories that you make along the way that should help you get through it all. That is what the stages of a healthy relationship should stall with―You fight, you break up. You kiss, you make up. Simple.