Romantic relationships are remarkable experiences that sweep us off our feet and make our hearts swell. Feelings of love may come out of thin air, however unlike in the movies, every relationship is unique and no one love is ever the same as the next.
In fact, it’s likely that the relationships you have been in have been quite different from one another. Differences aside, there are certain stages that exist in every romantic relationship, and those are the ones that bind all relationships along a similar path.
The Stages Of A Romantic Relationship
Starting with butterflies and moving forward to happily ever after, stages happen naturally in a relationship and are in place to test your compatibility and give couples time to build a bond.
Whether you’re in a new relationship or have been with your partner for years, you’ll find that you and your lover fit snugly into one of the six stages of love. Being able to identify your current stage will help you to better understand your love life and how you fit into it.
Love Drunk Infatuation
Romantic relationships begin with intense infatuation and sexual attraction.
During this initial stage couples experience an irresistible urge to spend all of their free time together, and are bursting with excitement, nerves, hormones and butterflies. To them the sky seems bluer, the sun brighter and everything is simply wonderful.
The reason people feel this way in the first stage of love is because their feelings of infatuation cause dopamine levels to soar, which in turn produces full body euphoria. In this stage, the novelty of a new love causes both individuals to think about each other day and night, imagining the possibilities of how this could be “the one.”
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However, because they are living in a state of bliss the brain is unable to access any red flags, which means they will overlook any flaws and focus only on the positive and how they feel when they are together. While your brain may be addicted to the feeling of being in love, during the infatuation stage it loses all ability to reason.
Coming In for a Landing
Once a couple gets past the love drunk infatuation stage, they enter the next stage where they will begin to see the bigger picture more clearly. Where simply being together was enough before, during the landing stage couples will open up and better get to know one another.
Feeling grounded in the new relationship, couples become comfortable enough to let their guards down and become more personally involved with their partner. In this stage they may share stories about their friends and families, pasts, secrets, ambitions and dreams.
Everything will still feel new and interesting, but that’s not to say that it may not be a bit rocky from time to time.
Moulding a Match
In this stage of a relationship couples develop opinions and understandings of what they can expect from one another.
This stage can cause a power struggle since couples will try to mould each other to fit their ideal mates, set boundaries and subtly convince each other to change their behaviour towards the relationship. The way to survive this stage is by practicing fair give and take.
It’s during this time that couples may also start thinking about the future of the relationship and question if it’s right for them. Now that they’re more seriously invested in the relationship, they may also consider how each other’s opinions differ from their expectations.
For example, if one partner expects the other to be on time for a date and they’re not, the waiting partner may feel disappointed. On the other hand, if the partner were to show up early with flowers or a bottle of wine, the waiting partner would feel ecstatic.
This stage is more or less a deal breaker; make it past this point and your relationship will get easier… at least for a little while.
Playing For Keeps
Once lovebirds make it past the moulded stage, they feel ready to move forward together as a happy couple. At this point they have both changed equally for each other and are aware of the expectations and boundaries that they’ve set together.
Their love life is realistic, the relationship is smoothly sailing and both partners feel truly connected and deeply in love. At this point many couples decide to get engaged or married.
It’s also during this stage that stress levels and anxiety may creep into the relationship. As time passes and the idealization of each other fades, couples will see each other for who they really are and all flaws are exposed. All the while life keeps happening and schedules start to interfere with the relationship.
Conversations will become less romantic and topics such as daily chores, work problems and issues with relatives will take the spotlight.
This type of relationship may not always seem like an oasis, but when reality becomes intertwined with a relationship it’s a sure sign that the relationship is real and a part of everyday existence. The important thing is that couples don’t get caught up in other tasks and keep making time for one another.
Sex or Bust
As years pass and people age, there comes a point in every romantic relationship where lovers have to agree to engage in sexual exploration or give up on it completely.
Sex plays a pivotal role in every romantic relationship and it’s important for lovers to be aware of their partner’s sexual wants and needs. As sexual drives and desires change, it’s possible for one partner to lose interest in sex entirely.
In these types of situations it’s crucial to know how your partner feels, after all, it’s easy for affairs and infidelity to sneak into the picture.
Instead of throwing in the towel on sex, be creative and open yourselves up to new sexual activities. It’s important for couples to make sacrifices and be willing to engage in sexual relations with their lover, even if it means stepping out of their comfort zone.
Many times rebooting your sex drive will also reignite the spark and make a relationship feel new again. These types of resurfacing emotions will draw partners back to one another, and create a reborn appreciate for one another.
The final stage of romantic relationships is eternal trust, and it’s in this stage that couples experience everlasting feelings of love, intimacy, security and attachment. At this point in a relationship couples know the direction they’re headed in and can predict each other’s behaviours and reactions. The battle is over, they’ve made it to the finish line.
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However, as pleasant as this final stage may sound, it’s still crucial for partners to continue showing each other love and appreciation. There’s no excuse to stop trying in a relationship, and as strong as the bond may be, love is an intense emotion that can be rekindles by anyone else at anytime if partners fail to express their passion to one another.
The most important thing to remember about romantic relationships is that there are no shortcuts to reaching eternal love and trust. In order to share a mature love with your partner, you must work hard to keep the flame burning, and do not give up when the ride gets rocky.