Love isn’t all rainbows and butterflies all the time. Like life, love has its own set of ups and downs, and while not every relationship is the same, there are some commonalities they all share. If you plan on having a long, happy, healthy relationship, chances are you’ll need to go through these eight stages before you get to a place where you’re solid as a rock.
- The awkward stage When you catch feelings for someone, things can get awkward pretty quickly. You start worrying about your appearance, what you’re going to say, how you want to come across… all of which can turn into a recipe for disaster. Relax! It’s natural for things to feel awkward at first. You’ll both feel nervous and overthink tiny details. It’s important not to force anything and to just be yourself.
- The honeymoon stage It goes by other names, such as “the merge” or the “attraction and infatuation” stage. To put it simply, it’s when you’re so entranced by each other that nothing else matters. It’s all about the two of you. Not even the world around you exists. It’s cute, it’s a whirlwind, it’s intoxicating. However, it can be blinding. During this stage, go easy with making big decisions. Enjoy the fun times together, but don’t get hasty.
- The comfortability stage This is where your partner’s quirks come into play. You’re feeling more comfortable with each other -enough to start showing more of your true colors. Some mannerisms will annoy you and the same goes for them with you. During this stage, don’t be so quick to throw in the towel if you see something you don’t like. Red flags are necessary to take into consideration, but little quirks like humming all the time shouldn’t be the reason to end it.
- The cooperation stage Appreciation of each other plays a huge part in a successful relationship. It’s one thing to accept their quirks, but it’s another to understand what’s beyond the surface. At this phase, you’re diving in deeper. You’re getting to know them on a more emotional and intimate level. While this builds a strong foundation, don’t get caught up in “fixing” your partner. Forcing a relationship into something it’s not won’t help you two grow together.
- The shifting stage Think of yourselves as tectonic plates (don’t worry, this isn’t a secret boring science lesson). When the plates collide, an earthquake happens. All that pressure and tension built up is released and the plates shift. In a relationship, you’ll encounter times when stress will build and unforeseen circumstances will arise. It’s how you handle them that’ll determine where you go from here. Don’t sweep problems under the rug. If you’re arguing, be aware of how you’re coming across. Compassion is a powerful asset – one that can mend and sometimes prevent heartache.
- The commitment stage Whether you’ve been exclusive from the start or are headed towards marriage, the feeling is the same: you’re ready for the long-term. This means committing 100% to this person. Now you don’t have to worry about whether they like you, if they think you’re cool, or if they see you as more than a friend. You’re assured, you’re confident, and so are they. When things get tough, just remember your love for one another.
- The inactivity stage You may hit a rough patch where you feel stuck. There hasn’t been any fighting or arguments, but rather something you can’t put your finger on. The most common reason is that the relationship feels stagnant. You’ve gone through all the beginning stages. The awkwardness and initial excitement are over. You’ve dealt with heavy situations and accepted one another’s flaws. Instead of wondering if this is when you call it quits, think of how you can spice things up. If you haven’t gone out in a while, go on a date! Plan for a spontaneous road trip or simply sit down and talk. Sometimes when a relationship feels stagnant, it’s because one or both parties don’t feel heard.
- The unconditional love stage This is it. Cue the happy-sounding instrumental music! You both have made it so far. In fact, when you think back to the beginning, it feels like you’ve known each other all your lives. You’ve weathered the storms, conquered fears, and came together in a way you never imagined possible with another human. While it’s not always a picture-perfect life, you wake up every day knowing your relationship is enough. You’re confident in your love, your choices, and your partner. You’re in this for the long haul, no matter what life will throw at the two of you. And with that, you’re both willing to make it work for the future.