There are many phases in a relationship. When you newly fall in love with someone, it feels like a brownie shake on a hot summer day–suddenly relaxed and refreshed. You probably think that you’ll ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. At least that’s what happens in movies. But what happens on the silver screen may not necessarily occur in real life.
Relationships aren’t a walk in the park. They have their ups and downs. But worry not. Read on below to know the phases in a relationship that every couple goes through. It will help you navigate through your own relationship, lest the need arises.
1. Linda Caroll, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, opine that every relationship goes through five phases: Merge, Doubt and Denial, Disillusionment, Decision, and Wholehearted Love.
2. “Every single relationship moves through these five stages—though not only once,” says Linda. The stages of a relationship are cyclic, not linear. It’s not impossible for people who’ve reached Stage 5, “Wholehearted Love”, to loop back to Stage 1 all over again.
3. The first stage, “Merge”, is the honeymoon stage. It is a phase when the new partners are consumed by their emotions for each other. “I’ve found my perfect match” is what people in this stage usually say if you ask them about their partner.
4. During this time, the rational part of the brain is drowned in waves of emotions. The person stops thinking clearly and rationally. Insane amounts of Dopamine, Oxytocin and Endorphins are released, keeping the happiness level at an all-time high. “Enjoy this stage to the fullest”, says Linda
5. The second stage, “Doubt and Denial”, is what follows closely after. Here a person realises that their perfect and ideal partner may not be so. This is the period when differences and disappointment start to emerge. Skills of conflict management and facing the obstacle are essential during this time.
6. “Disillusionment” is the third stage. The snow has fallen, making it hard to move around. That’s right, this is the “winter” of your relationship. The time when order ebbs away from the relationship and chaos takes its place.
7. The best way to surf through this dry, cold season is to not sweep every problem under the rug. Clear the space and mind. During this period, the things going right in the relationship are ignored, and our brain focuses on the negative. Try slowing down and counting your blessings.
8. After the third stage comes “Decision”, the fourth stage. By this time, many people in a relationship are at their breaking point. When you contemplate leaving your partner, that’s when you know you’re at this stage. The best advice for couples is to take a step back. Think. Understand what went wrong and try to fix it. Effective communication is the key.
9. “Wholehearted Love” is the fifth stage. This is the stage of acceptance and realising that their partner is, after all, a human being. This is the stage where the relationship is at its healthiest. Both the partners nourish themselves in each other’s company. It is the stage where generosity, flexibility, and a life with meaning and purpose begins to develop.
However, the fifth stage is not the end. As mentioned before, these phases in a relationship are cyclic and not linear.
Relationships are an integral part of our lives, and like life itself, they are full of challenges. At last, heartbeat requires ups and downs to beat the healthiest. Imagine a fruit-bearing tree. It will bear fruits only after you nourish it. In a relationship, your partner is the tree while you are the water-bearer and vice versa.
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I am Rakshit Aswal, a recent graduate of English Hons. from University of Delhi. I like to play videogames and read books while on my pursuit to experience amazing stories.