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It seems nature can sometimes make sure we fall in love with someone who appears to be the most incompatible person in the world. Yes, we are attracted to them initially, but as we get to know them, your partner seems not to be the person you thought at all.
So why would nature want us to fall in love with someone so contrary to who we are?
If you think about it, what real benefit is it to have someone just like you? How would that make you better off? What you lack your partner lacks, what they have, you already have. Yes, you are more comfortable, and it’s easier, but are you growing? Are you being challenged? Are you thinking beyond yourself when you are with someone just like you?
In many cases, this same person will usually have complementary traits to our own. E.g. you are more analytical, and they’re more nurturing. This is the value of a partnership. Your “incompatible” partner’s traits compensate for our weaknesses and vice versa.
Combined, the sum of our differences creates a unit more resilient than each of us are as individuals. And a strong, powerful unit is more likely to survive and ensure the continuation of a successful union.
But of course, when we fell in love, we could not yet see all of our partner’s blemishes. If we had known about them at the beginning, we’d might have run like hell in the opposite direction. Every relationship goes through the dating stages, of which there are five, to be precise. In these five stages of love, you’ll encounter some level of the following:
- Attraction/Falling in Love,
- Disappointment & Disillusionment
- Stability/Creating Real, Lasting Love
- Commitment/Deep Connection
Throughout these five stages of a relationship, you’ll start to understand if you and your partner are destined for the long term and, hopefully, commitment.
The Main Five Stages of a Relationship
There are no timestamps for each of these stages. The length a time a couple stays in these stages depends uniquely on the couple. Unfortunately, some couples never have the opportunity to advance to the later stages of love due to their emotional immaturity or incompatibility. Since each relationship is different, it can be tough to determine the stages of a relationship by month.
Spotlight on the Five Stages of Dating
Stage One: Attraction and Romance
All couples enter into this phase. It happens when you are beginning the relationship and getting to know each other; it’s the foundational dating step to go through. It may also be considered the fantasy phase or honeymoon stage of your relationship. Your partner can seem perfect during this time, and how long this phase lasts will vary dependent on the couple, but it can be anywhere from several months to about two years. On average, stage one lasts about three months. This stage is a lot of fun and enjoyable, but it is not sustainable. People who are constantly switching partners are often attempting to remain in this stage.
Most people will focus on what you have in common and what is similar to each other and ignore flaws or – Biological forces take over and you only to see the best and the good that person. The body will release Oxytocin, Phenylethylamine, Serotonin, and Dopamine)
You will spend an exceptional amount of time together – You are in love, after all, and you can’t think of living a life apart from your partner.
Avoiding Conflict – Conflict is not only evaded in this stage, but it seems like you will never fight or disagree about anything at all. An issue at this stage can be some level of dishonesty between the two of you, as you are trying to put your best foot forward to impress your partner.
Stage Two: Dating/Coupling
Reality/Truth begins to Set In
This stage normally will start to creep in gradually during your relationship, but will occasionally occur all at once. The reality phase generally extends for around six months, or as long as it takes for you and your partner to decide whether you want to remain together. This is often the time in which relationships end due to you or your partner deciding that they’ve made a mistake in choosing you as a partner. If you can accept each other’s imperfections, you can advance on to the next level of your relationship. In this stage of healthy relationships:
You will begin to notice and pay closer attention to flaws in your partner or behaviors you will certainly not like. This does not mean that you are no longer in love; however, your partner doesn’t seem as awesome as they were in the initial step of the relationship.
At this stage, hormones will start fighting against you, making this stage even more difficult. During the romance stage, your body produces many endorphins; you can feel them running through your body, giving you that “high” sensation. Your body won’t be able to sustain this feeling forever, and so in this stage, your elation will begin to taper off.
People normally begin to wonder if they are still in love with their partner. The relationship is no longer the ecstasy or fantasy as it was before.
Stage Three: Disappointment & Disillusionment
(Sometimes considered a stage of power struggling)
What is initially the reality of the relationship setting in during stage two, will often morph into disappointment in stage three. Couples at this stage will spend their next year of their relationship trying to work out their differences and disagreements in an attempt to get to a place of stability. If you’re able to communicate and engage in healthy behaviors and see positive progress, you’re likely to transition to the next phase. The problems presented here are:
As a couple, you will know that arguments are bad, but you will continue to hold anger towards each other anyway.
Some of the anger and frustration can form or transpire from some of the most over trivial things such, as small habits and preferences between you.
Since you likely won’t realize that conflict can be a healthy occurrence, you wonder if this relationship is doomed. In fact, you or your partner will likely have thoughts of breaking up or getting divorced. One partner will possibly ask to break up and because they don’t know how to solve these differences.
Instead of only focusing their similarities (as you did in stage one), now all you can see are their flaws and shortcomings.
So, you get to work attempting to change your companion back into the person you originally hoped or expected they were, or scold them for not being that way, or both.
One partner begins to withdraw, while the other partner pursues
Often one partner retreats, shutting down their heart and pulling away to get some space from the relationship. While the other partner pursues them, demanding their attention and consideration while feeling desperately afraid, worried, and insecure about the fact they are emotionally deserted.
In the disappointment and power struggle stage, one person pursues and the other distances themselves. This is similar to the characters the, Hailstorm and the Turtle.
Many relationship counselors work involves helping these two types of people get on the same page, understand each other’s needs, and develop happiness together. If you acknowledge this pattern in your own relationship or marriage, then your relationship has almost surely entered the Power Struggle Stage.
Without strong communication, trust, respect, and the ability to work as a team, couples are unlikely to progress past this stage.
There are two common ways most couples deal with their Power Struggle stage.
THEY BREAK UP: One partner or both of them take the nearest exit and break up. Very often, these people are serial daters looking for love but finding frustration and disappointment instead.
THEY SURVIVE: They continue along their journey together, surviving through the anger, pain, and frustration of a relationship that is hampered and needs to fixed or stuck in the past and no longer growing. Couples who have chosen this option typically think that good relationships involve sacrifice and compromise. However, their relationship eventually emotionally flatlines, along with their sex life.
You can advance from this stage when you:
- Develop a reliable way to communicate respectfully and kindly about emotionally charged topics,
- You both try to repair emotional disconnections between you quickly,
- You attempt to heal old hurt and restore broken trust,
- You both start to share power (and realize that using force will never get you what you want in love),
- You give up on unrealistic expectations and your fantasies of harmony without struggle,
- You accept and appreciate each other’s differences and weaknesses, and you understand being in a successful and long term partnership should help push you to be a better individual.
- Overcome the Power Struggle in relationships – Although this may sound simple, it can be quite difficult.
It’s all too easy for one partner to quit halfway along the journey and end the relationship because it feels like too much hard work. Often, this partner is too afraid to face aspects of themselves that their Power Struggle stage is forcing them to confront.
Dealing with your Partners Flaws:
Sometimes, dealing with your partner’s flaws will extract a price on your attraction to them. Are you losing or lost romantic interest in your partner? You can turn it back on in your life with ample date nights, don’t stop being flirty and doing playful things you used to do while you were falling in love. Hug frequently and enjoy the taste of long kissing. Even if you are a married couple, spice up your sex life and bring in a diversity of experience into the bed while respecting boundaries. You don’t have to wait for special occasions to share and show how much in love you are with your partner; make every moment count. Don’t just allow intimacy to happen, initiate intimacy.
Please enjoy the Attraction and Romantic stages if you are still there, but you must know that a significant level of sacrifice lies ahead for both of you. There is no perfect marriage or relationship, everything only gets better as we begin to work on them. Perfect doesn’t exist, but it is what we all strive towards. You must be willing to recognize the issue and make adjustments and alterations in order to make your relationship a fulfilling one.
Stop comparing your partner with others; instead, cultivate the habit of appreciating your partner daily and give them space for improvement. There is a common saying: “What you appreciate, appreciates.” So many times, we don’t know what we have until we lose it, until it is being found by another person who counts it more precious! Stop taking each other for granted in relationships. What you take for granted gets taken!
Stage Four: Stability/Creating Real, Lasting Love
If a couple can navigate within the unstable waters of stage three, they will find stage four provides much more rest and enjoyment. Couples will spend approximately two years establishing stability before advancing into the final stage of commitment. Make efforts to spice up your conventional life together to retain the spark within your relationship.
As a couple, you now have a history together, and you have been able to work as a team to get through some differences.
The initial illusion of stage one is completely gone and will not come back, but you have accepted this. You want to establish a strong relationship. And yes, you have differences, and you sometimes fight with your partner, however you love your partner, feel joined to them, and you trust you can work through any future challenges and conflicts.
You may, however, you may feel a bit a little bored at times as the chase no longer feels like a part of the relationship.
You may also long for the feelings in stage one, and wonder if those feelings you’ve once had can be found in someone else.
Stage Five: Commitment
Few couples are fortunate enough to make it this far; even couples who are married may never securely reach the commitment stage. In this stage, you are truly a team and have advanced through many ups and downs through the five stages of love. If dating, this is the stage where you typically get married and feel content and comfortable with that decision. It is a stage of sustainable and mature, and love that lasts forever in an ideal scenario for happy couples. Milestones include:
You have decided to be with your partner, with imperfections, flaws, and all.
You no longer yearn for the romance stage because that would mean being with a completely new person and, you don’t want another person.
You have a vision for the future being together as a couple and as life partners.
Stages of Romantic Relationships
Understanding the five stages in a relationship can assist you in understanding what you are feeling about your partner and your relationship. That many of these feelings and sensations are quite normal. They don’t mean you have to give up on working through your challenges. Know it is natural to lose those budding romantic feelings, but something much deeper and richer awaits you in a later stage. To proceed through the relationship stages requires communication, patience, respect, and hard work. It is worth the work and effort when you find the right person to share this journey.