If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you’ll know that dynamics change over time. How you act with each other will inevitably evolve as you go through different life events together, and it can sometimes be hard to know how to keep the spark alive. Everyone’s relationships are different, but there are four distinct phases you will go through when you make the decision to partner up with someone.
We’re going to explore those phases here, so if you ever feel like your relationship isn’t the same as it used to be, don’t worry, it’s normal, you’ve just moved on to a different stage.
1. Honeymoon Phase
Everyone knows the honeymoon stage. It’s arguably the best stage of them all! It’s the phase where – if you’re in a settled relationship – you’ll likely mock anyone who you see who is in their honeymoon phase, forgetting that you too were once loved up and on cloud nine.
This stage occurs at the beginning of a relationship when it seems like you’re made for each other. You couldn’t imagine ever having an argument with this person, and you’re desperate to spend every waking moment with them. When you can’t be with them, you’ll feel an intense sense of longing and you’ll spend all day daydreaming about them. It feels like no one else in the world matters, and you’ll experience a myriad of positive (and sometimes overwhelming) emotions.
If it feels like you’re on a lovers high, that’s because you are. Your brain will release high doses of serotonin (the happy hormone), dopamine (the pleasure hormone), and adrenaline (the rush hormone aka butterflies).
You don’t have any concerns, you’re in your happy little bubble, but bubbles eventually work, and this is when the next stage comes in.
2. Reality Phase
There will eventually come a time when you find a fault in your partner and you will have your first argument or disagreement. When this happens, reality starts to set in. You will slowly begin to see how a person deals with conflict and what some of their quirks are – things that you would not have otherwise noticed with your rose-tinted glasses on.
During this stage, you likely still have no long-term commitments, but you’ll likely be looking that way. Stage two is almost the make-or-break stage where you decide if you want to take it further. You might notice the initial butterflies have started to wear off and you’re developing more of an emotional attachment as opposed to a purely physical one.
3. Settling Phase
If you make it through stage two, you’re in it for the long term. At this point, you’re on the verge of moving in together or getting married. You’ll begin to contemplate things like joining your finances and making family plans. You’ll be thinking of yourselves as a team rather than just romantic partners, and this will show in every aspect of your life.
From making career choices together to learning more about working as a unit (e.g., if you’re religious thinking about learning the Qurbani rules for a husband and wife vs just yourself). This is where you’ll really begin to get to know each other.
Having a family changes everything, and whilst it’s not for everyone, it’s certainly something a lot of people have to learn to deal with. Your relationship will face more strain and bumps than ever before, but you’ll never need each other as much and work together as a team in the way you do when you’re parents.
You’ll become bonded for life and your relationship will be so much stronger because of it.
It’s natural for things to change over time, so don’t worry if those butterflies have started to wear off. What stage are you at currently?