It doesn’t matter your gender, sexual orientation, race or where you live—these parts of society sooner or later jumpstart relationships. From a young age, almost every member of the human race observes the relationships of their parents, grandparents, relatives or neighbors. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that for girls, dating typically starts at twelve-and half-years-old while for boys, it starts one year later. Of course, dating at such a young age very often may look different than dating as adults. It usually includes spending time together in the same group of friends and long chats on the phone or through text messaging.
Nevertheless, our exposure to romantic relationships starts early and is an important aspect of our lives. Whether your relationship starts in the first year of college or in your mid-forties, it will go through the five universal relationship stages.
Being in a relationship doesn’t always feel like being on cloud nine. Some stages are not easy. That is why it is important to have strong stepping stones in a relationship. Before we define these important stepping stones, we need to understand the five relationship stages that most couples will go through.
5 Stages of a Relationship
Stage 1: Honeymoon
This is the early stage of a relationship when everything is exciting, and usually both partners only see the positive characteristics of the other person. Overall, the world seems like a better place to live in. This feeling has a scientific explanation: feel-good hormones like dopamine and oxytocin are flowing in the brain, creating this happy, lovey-dovey feeling.
The honeymoon stage is filled with exciting dates, passionate sex, deep conversations, and constant care for each other. It’s not a surprise that it is often considered the most beautiful time in a relationship. But it’s temporary—it can’t and won’t last forever. That’s why stepping stones in a relationship are so important. They take you from the honeymoon phase to the second stage in relationships. It’s important to work on your relationship to experience the later stages, which will actually be the most beautiful times in your relationship.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the honeymoon stage. Every person deserves to enjoy this easy-going, passionate, and exciting time.
Stage 2: Doubts
“His snoring disturbs my sleep.” “Why can’t she cook better?” “His friends are annoying.” The honeymoon stage has officially ended. Of course, you still enjoy your partner, but you start to see their imperfections. While it may just be little things or annoying habits, these imperfections may also be things that you don’t want in your relationship. At the end of the day, they can cause doubts about your relationship.
These doubts can be serious red flags that become harbingers of toxic relationships, for example, emotional or physical violence. Emotional or physical violence is a serious issue that can lead to the breaking point of a relationship. However, in most cases, our partner’s imperfections aren’t so serious. By working together on your doubts, it is possible to continue your happy relationship.
This is the stage where couples needs to start putting in serious work in their relationship. Compromises and communication are important. Both partners need to make an effort in the relationship and be willing to make sacrifices.
Stage 3: Stability
If couples overcome their doubts, they enter the next stage—stability. In this stage, both partners are happy and satisfied with each other and have accepted their partner’s imperfections.
While it’s a peaceful and happy time, it’s important not to forget about your partner and romance. Otherwise, a monotonous routine can form, and your relationship could be at risk. A fantastic way to avoid undesirable routine in your relationship is with a fun couples game. Love Battleship game is designed for couples who have been together for some time and want to spice up their date nights.
Anyway, we know that nothing in life is stable except change, meaning that stability will always end. But how will it end? It will end with the question: “what’s next?”
Stage 4: Decision and Action
Humans are social beings that strive for growth. The same is true in relationships. It’s good that we have stable relationships, but what’s next? Are we staying together? Where are we going with our relationship? When you are having such questions, you know that you are in a stage four: decision and action. Most people want growth in their relationship, so it’s time to think about if you and your partner plan to spend your lives together. Is your partner the one for you?
Of course, it’s not at this stage that you have make a legal agreement about staying together until death do you part. However, it’s important to remember there can be significant decisions that lead to life altering actions during this stage. For example, planning children, buying a home together, marriage, etc. Your actions will show that you have chosen each other as partners for life.
It’s an exciting but not an easy time. All the changes come with the risk that in new circumstances, your relationship may be different. Maybe one or both of you will not be willing to accept these new circumstances. Change can also create stress that negatively affects relationships.
As with the previous stages, it’s important to keep working on your relationship and never forget about romance. Romantic dates are even more important in this stage! Try the original dates from the “Surprise Date cards” game to help you keep your weekly date nights fun and passionate .
It’s definitely worth going through this stage because after adapting to your new circumstances comes the most beautiful stage of all—true love.
Stage 5: True Love
At this stage, couples know that they are with the most suitable person for them. Even if in the very beginning it didn’t seem like this person was “the one,” both partners worked through all the stages of their relationship as a team. It’s true that in real life a “perfect” partner doesn’t exist. But in this stage, both partners have accepted each other and believe that they are perfect for each other. Some specialists say that true love starts here.
This stage is definitely full of joy. You can trust your partner, and you know they will be there for you. You know that your partner has accepted you, and you can feel secure. This stage is like a well-deserved vacation, but it doesn’t mean that you stop working on your relationship. There is always the need show your love and commitment to your partner.
The Stages Are Not Linear
How long are these stages? Does every couple go through all the stages? Can some of the stages repeat themselves? It depends. There is no single answer. It can be different for different couples. But usually, couples go through all the stages. The time between the stages can pass quickly, and for some couples, some of the stages can be a lot shorter than others.
But these stages are not linear. They may overlap each other, and at some level, even mix. See the examples below.
Relationships go through every stage, but in different manners. The pattern will be more or less unique for each couple.
However, there are high and low risks of break up in every stage. How can you overcome them? How do you ensure that your relationship is happy during every stage? Here we have come to the five stepping stones in a relationship to help keep the happiness during every stage.
5 Stepping Stones in a Relationship
Stepping Stone 1: Trust
Have you wondered why couples are usually most happy in stage five? Because they have developed mutual trust. It ensures feelings of security and happiness. Trust and loyalty are extremely important factors to overcoming challenges in every relationship stage.
Stepping Stone 2: Communication
Arguments very often come from misunderstandings, and resentment accumulates from lack of commitment. While having conversations about your misunderstandings can be unpleasant, they always help—always! Talk to your partner and listen to each other. Share your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. If you need help getting the conversation going, there is a conversation starter game that is made with couples therapist to help couples to communicate easier.
Stepping Stone 3: Teamwork
No matter what, you have to be there for your partner. And they will be there for you. You can be the most powerful team—if you work together. Shared sorrow is half of the sorrow while shared joy is double the joy.
Stepping Stone 4: Comprehension
Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and understand their situation. Try to truly comprehend the source of their action. Of course, to do this, you have to understand yourself as well. True understanding can change your attitude towards different situations, which can avoid disagreements.
It’s also important to know your partner’s love language. It will help you show your love towards your partner in the exact way they appreciate it most.
Stepping Stone 5: Desire for a Relationship
You both have to put in work towards your relationship. There is a need for the desire to be in a relationship. Showing commitment and love to your partner requires work. Not always, but often. For example, a kiss before leaving for work doesn’t require much, while organizing a nice date takes more time. Sometimes it is easy to forget about these things. However, they should be done to maintain a happy and healthy relationship that is always growing. Need some help to keep your relationship growing? This relationship game is an easy-to-use tool for relationship growth that couples love.
As you can see, all relationships go through the different stages, and each stage comes with its own challenges. However, there is a beauty in each stage as well. And with the five important stepping stones, you can overcome common challenges and reach the beauty and joy in your relationship. These five stepping stones lead every relationship to emotional connection and finally to wholehearted love.
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