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Stages

March 7, 2011

In my readings about relationships over the years, the one commonality between articles and books is that there are defined stages of a relationship. Depending one how defined you want to be, there could be anywhere from three to five or even more stages, but the idea is that you need to move through and complete a stage before moving on to the next. If you skip one, you’re missing a vital part of your relationship development.

But.

The tricky part is moving through at the same pace as the person you’re in a relationship with. In the past, this has been a major problem for me. I had a tendency to move faster than the person I was dating, which created some major problems. Luckily, A and I keep up with each other and we seem to be moving forward at the same pace. The beauty of us is that we can talk our way through each stage.

My interpretation of the stages goes something like this*:

Stage 1 – The Honeymoon Phase

In this stage, you recognize how amazing the other is. You look for similarities and common interests and want to spend as much time together as possible.

Transition
The transition from Stage 1 to Stage 2 is scary. Going from having your head in the clouds and brought down to earth is fraught with challenges and fears. Things won’t be the same, but if you’re in a good place, you’ll recognize that this is a very good thing. If you’re in an even better place, you’ll be able to talk to your partner about your fears and you’ll work your way through it together, without fear of being dumped.

Stage 2 – Reality Sets In

You’re still feeling all the mushy feelings that come with Stage 1, but there’s an element of reality setting in. You’re starting to be more ‘natural’ with each other and express elements of your personality you may not have let loose in Stage 1. You’re starting to learn things about each other that aren’t perfect, but you accept them regardless. If you haven’t already argued, you’re probably likely to in this stage. But this is also the stage where you’re making a choice to be with someone regardless of all of this. You accept them for everything they are, the good and the bad.

Stage 3 -The Next Step
Moving in, Engagement, the ‘L’ Word (hopefully in the reverse order)…the Next Step is where you take your relationship to the next level, a level of increased intimacy and I’m not just talking about the non-PG rated kind. You are fully in the relationship, accepting that Stage 2 has occurred and are ready for more. You’ve recognized that this is someone you want to share your life with and you work together to make that happen.

Stage 4 – A Major Commitment – Marriage, Babies and Happily Ever After (I did say this was my interpretation of the stages. They can be whatever I want!)
This one is somewhat self explanatory. By no means does this mean the relationship is over. On the contrary, Stage 4 will hopefully continue for the remainder of your lives together. It’s a lot of work. There will be ups and downs. It won’t be an easy ride, but as long as you continue to respect, trust and communicate with each other, you will get through!

*This is a work in progress. I may discover new stages as A and I continue our journey together

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