All relationships go through phases ... here are the 6 most common
Have you ever noticed how your relationship seems to change and morph on a regular basis? Trust me, you are not alone! All relationships go through various phases. Below I’ve outlined the 6 most common relationship phases, what they look like and how they impact your relationship moving forward. What phase do you find your relationship in today?
- Phase 1 – Getting To Know You
- Phase 2 – Passion, Love and Lust
- Phase 3 – Settled In To A Daily Routine
- Phase 4 – How Did We Grow So Far Apart? or Who The Heck Are You and What Did You Do With The Person I Fell In Love With?
- Phase 5 – Renewed Intimacy (or The Slow Burn)
- Phase 6 – Good-bye
Getting to know you
The starting phase for all relationships is focused on getting to know each other. This phase is critical to the future success and longevity of your relationship, whether the relationship is focused on romance, friendship, or business. The more time you spend here and the more you get to know the other person the greater your chances of a long lasting and healthy relationship.
If fundamental differences are identified at this stage of the relationship, it’s easy to walk away without hurt or discomfort being experienced by either party. Clearly, you just weren’t meant to go forward. However, if we ignore our differences early on, we may be setting ourselves up for hurt and heartache down the road. It’s critical that we trust our instincts during this phase and don’t delude ourselves into seeing only those things we want to see.
How many times have you heard someone say, or maybe said it yourself, “Oh, John is such a wonderful person in so many ways, I just wish he wouldn’t do this one thing that drives me crazy? I’m sure that over time he’ll come to see how much it bothers me and stop. And if not, hey, I’m sure I can get used to it”.
Guess what? John isn’t going to change and you won’t get used to it! If something about that person drives you crazy now, it’s only going to get worse over time. Soon, you’ll resent that this behavior hasn’t changed and what was possibly a minor annoyance or flaw will become a constant source of anger and frustration. Had you listened to yourself early on, you could have avoided these feelings and devoted your time to someone that didn’t drive you crazy, or to self-development.
Passion, Love and Lust
In our romantic relationships, getting to know someone often turns to Passion, Love and Lust. This is a natural evolution. You find that you share so much in common with the person, you feel a sense of trust and camaraderie. Before you know it, that quirky looking guy starts to become quite handsome in your eyes and you feel that tingle in your stomach whenever he’s around, or if he brushes against you, or touches your arm or shoulder during a conversation.
Relationship issues can often arise when Passion, Love and Lust occur before, or too quickly during that Getting To Know You phase. Physical attraction can be a very misleading and fleeting thing. Something triggered not by mutual respect and a genuine liking of the other person is doomed to failure.
Too often people aren’t taking the time they need to really get to know someone before they move into this phase. If you find yourself physically attracted to someone, but you don’t yet know who they are intellectually and emotionally, I caution you to take a step back and revisit Phase one for a longer period of time. Physical intimacy can’t be undone.
An exercise I’ve seen done in High Schools is a great example of this. If you take two different colored balls of clay, one representing you and the other representing sex and you blend them together, how easy is it to now separate them? It’s impossible.
The same applies to your relationship. Once the sexual intimacy barrier has been broken, it can’t be undone. This leaves many people unable to separate their sexual relationships from the reality of their love relationships.
For those relationships that have reached this point, based on a strong Getting To Know You phase, Passion, love and lust can be a powerful emotional state. You find that you think of your new relationship constantly throughout the day. An hour doesn’t go by when you don’t catch yourself wondering when you will get to see them next, or anticipating your next encounter.
Over a period of weeks and months, this phase will also morph. And it’s a good thing that it does! Can you imagine what you would do if your original all consuming thoughts and feelings of passion and lust didn’t abide over time? What would you ever get done?
This takes us to the next Phase of Relationships. Check back next week for Phases 3 & 4!