Ok, I simplified the stages. I wanted you to read the article. I usually work with people at the beginning of relationships who seem fixated on the Love-struck stage. For them, moving forward seems like moving backward. We seem to forget that we have a journey to go through with our chosen partner. A journey that is not linear. I wish there were a map, but relationships are more like a Louis and Clark expedition. Sometimes it takes a long time to move forward, and sometimes it’s quick. Often we repeat paths and go deeper each time. However, frequently we crash land or go another direction altogether.
If there were a map, it would look like the relationship stages. Take a quick read and think about where you are in your current relationship. How do you move forward? Not in a relationship yet- what stage did your last relationship end? What are the implications for your next relationship?
Love-struck, Bleeping Reality, Stabilization, and Partnership are relationship stages.
Love-struck is the first stage of a relationship. As two people first come together, they are experiencing chemistry, fun experiences learning about each other, and a bit of the fear of the unknown. This time includes being attracted to and flirting with an individual that ignites those romantic sparks. We continue to look for commonalities and ways to be together. After some uneasiness passes, lives begin to come together, and a lot of romance happens.
Despite how senseless we can behave here, this is what we crave in a romantic relationship. We experience an emotional high that can only be felt by your love, your hope, your fantasy. An emotional high is addicting, and people will do crazy things to stay love-struck. Maybe I should call this love drunk instead, as our vision can be a little rose-colored at this point. Love-stuck is superficial and cannot remain.
Bleeping reality sets in when you realize you are dating a human being. Your love-drunk hangover has thoroughly set in, and your relationship feels like work, a lot of work. Values questioned, behavior issues emerge, and maybe these things are a little too human. The red flags you ignored when you were love-struck have appeared, or perhaps the devil is in the smallest details. Real power struggles occur. They tiptoe in looking like the inability to see another’s viewpoint, unable to find a compromise or unwillingness to let go of a mistake. Damn grudges! Simply put, power struggles kill relationships. A single person making constant concessions will also not allow the relationship to survive. I dare say that many romances fail here for two reasons; someone realizes that the differences are too large to overcome, or one or both people cannot manage their power struggles. Successful couples balance humanity and love-struck.
Exiting this stark reality stage requires honesty and vulnerability with yourself and your partner. Learning to identify conflict quickly and address it will ward off power struggles. To do all that, you need to be open-minded and vulnerable. Sharing your priorities, what your values are, and where boundaries lay create shared understanding. Overcome your taboo conversation fear and compassionately open-up your heart. Compassion is the only way (note I did say ONLY) to get through this stage. Make your decisions wisely.
Candidly, I do not think everyone gets through this stage. Nor should they. You can develop a love for someone that is not good for you. Keeping this relationship makes life confusing and emotionally draining. Moving on from this stage is apparent when you either break up or concede that this may not be a perfect human but may be perfect for you.
Stabilization is a period in your relationship when actively working through differences as they occur becomes easier. Romance, fun, and positivity have a solid history in this relationship. Additionally, problems that have resolutions behind them also exist. An expressed commitment to the relationship and a future together is clear. Financial assets, family, and goals are becoming or have become commingled. A feeling of security enters the relationship as you know how to connect. The challenge in this stage is to get beyond everyday life that can become mundane. What feels normal should be stable but not dull. Variety keeps relationships fresh and grows deeper roots. Variety sounds simple but is particularly challenging. Investing time and energy in the relationship is visible by both partners. Moving forward from stabilization happens when you can anticipate the other person’s needs and desires and have a desire to provide for them.
Providing can be either in a tangible way or in emotional support.
A partnership is when you insightfully connect. You profoundly love your chosen person despite the differences you have. You are consciously choosing to work with this person to make a better relationship. A partnership is an ultimate reward for romantic relationships. Honestly, the love-struck/love drunk period is long dead, but passion thrives. These relationships are authentically about making the other person’s life better. Some magic happens if you both share this perspective. Magic represents the 2 out of 10 marriages that we all look at and know that it is something special – it is one of a kind.
Relationships are a journey, and no two will look alike. Yes, we must revisit the stages as people grow and change. The issues associated with aging and children, for example, cannot be anticipated, and we can find the power struggle stage can return. Use your experts to help you navigate through and keep in mind great romances are passionate partnerships rather than their love-drunk earlier versions.