Has your relationship changed drastically? Do you find yourself wondering what happened to the way things were? Relax, you are not alone.  What many people do not necessarily know but need to understand is that every relationship goes through transitional stages.  If you are going through a rocky time right now in love, do not fret.  You can learn to safely navigate your way through every stage of love.

There are five stages that relationships potentially experience.  Each stage is necessary for the survival of the relationship. If a couple can successfully overcome the trials that certain stages pose, they can learn how to maturely love and accept the good and bad that go along with partnering with someone for life.

Stage I: Curiosity

The Curiosity Stage is when you desire to know someone.  The mystery of knowing the ends and outs of a person and what interests them is intriguing.  During this time people are usually on their best behavior.  You are drawn to unlocking their mind and heart, however you want to present yourself in a way that will not scare off your potential suitor.

This stage is usually where crushes are developed and attraction is heightened.  However, this is a time to really stay focused on what’s important to you.  This is a stage that you should try to stay in until you address priority questions such as spiritual beliefs, family relationships, and future aspirations.  We often leave the curiosity phase a bit too soon and move on to the next phase when we think we have heard enough.     

Stage II: Romance Phase

The next stage of a relationship is the most nostalgic and memorable.  The Romance Stage is the time when love is definitely in the air.  You heard some things that sounded good to you during the curiosity stage.  Now you are all about this person.  You talk to them for hours on the phone, and you think of date ideas that you can do together.  You even text while at work and out to lunch with friends.

They were made for you and you for them.  Together you are unstoppable and you simply can’t stand being apart.  Your friends and family are slightly tired of hearing their name, but their name is music to your ears and honey on your lip.  I think you get the picture.  You have officially fallen in love and the dopamine is coasting through your veins and straight to your heart.

Stage III: Observation

However, the romance phase will only last a while before you stop finishing each other’s sentences and moves on to what I like to call the Observation Stage.  In this stage you start to notice imperfections about your partner and forming some negative opinions.  You observe them, briefly address them and move on to recognize that the love of your life is not necessarily as flawless as you may have thought.  You accept that and move on to make the best of your almost perfect relationship.

Stage IV: Inquisitive

You then go from the observation stage and move into the Inquisitive Stage.  In this stage your partner’s idiosyncrasies are starting to make you question if this is the person for you. Can you deal with the baggage they bring to the table?  Can they deal with your imperfections?  You may begin to question your judgment and if this is really the person for you.

Stage V: Power Struggle

Which leads to the Power Struggle Stage.  Although your desire at the beginning of your relationship was to add to your partner’s happiness, the main focus at this point often becomes receiving what’s pleasurable for yourself.  The relationship has settled and conflict has arisen.  All the great expectations you had have fallen out of place and you find yourself trying to make your partner become what you thought they would be or what they displayed during the curiosity and romance stages.

Many relationships end in this stage and people tend to move on to another relationship in order to experience the romance that they once had before.  However any relationship will go through the power struggle.  If you decide to move on to the next relationship you will experience the same struggle all over again. It’s inevitable.  A couple can be stuck in the power struggle stage for years.  It is important in this stage to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and try to be understanding.

If you struggle to accomplish this on your own, you may want to receive professional help such as from a Marriage and Family Therapist.  Learning appropriate communication skills and remaining compassionate to your partner’s needs while assertively communicating your own can help you survive this stage.  Relationships are most successful when both partner’s focus on the needs of the other. Then everyone’s needs get met.  If the two of you work towards being honest, current, compassionate, and forgiving you will move into the next stage of relationship together.

Stage VI: Stability

The Stability Stage is when you are at a place of contentment.  You recognize that your partner is flawed and they understand that you are imperfect as well.  You accept that about each other and work on your selves while being compassionate to your partner.  You really desire to provide an enjoyable experience for your partner and realize life is not just about me but about us.

Because you made it through the power struggle does not mean that you will not return there, but now that you have entered the stability stage you have greater understand of what love can be.  Therefore, you are more equipped to make it through the power struggle when it arises yet again.  Some may say that the stability stage is a more mature form of love.

Stage VII: Co-Creation/Blissfully Married

The Co-Creation Stage/Bliss is when the two of you realize that when you work together you can be a fierce force to reckon with.  In this stage you recognize your potential is much greater as a team than apart from one another.  You establish a purpose together and work towards a common vision.

Because you made it through some tough times, you are more confident in who the two of you are as allies or one component than ever before.  In this stage couples will see the benefit from this in parenting and creating businesses.  You also recognize the importance of your support towards your partner’s dreams.  In reality their dream becomes your dream as well simply because you play such an intricate role in their success.

Every relationship has its ups and downs.  Understanding the different stages your relationship will go through can help you look to your future and press through the difficult present day.  Keep these stages in mind as you go through them and prepare yourself for success.