Barbara de Angelis said “we don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” The same is very true for relationships. We think of ideal relationships as two people riding off happily into the sunset, but usually, the opposite is very true, even with those seemingly “perfect couples.”
In almost every relationship, you usually see five major phases, according to psychologist Jed Diamond. Some of these stages are enjoyable, but others are challenging and unpleasant. If you and your partner can move healthily through these phases and successfully confront the strains of your relationship, a stronger and more lasting love will follow.
Phase 1: Falling in love
Oh, the doe-eyed euphoria of falling in love, a feeling most of us have encountered. The thought of one person, happiness, longing and a concoction of powerful hormones all control our everyday.
But this stage, for all its allure, has its drawbacks; your heart is dominating your skeptical mind, and your hope that one person is the embodiment of your happiness can override your sense of caution.
Phase 2: Becoming a couple
This step can happen over a period of weeks, months or even years, depending on the relationship. Your lives begin to intertwine, you may move in together, you might marry, and you may even have children during this time.
The “head in the clouds” feeling has turned into joy, unity, desirability, and protection. The mere feeling of falling for someone has transformed into something tangible and real. The more you get to know this person, the more that feeling that they are “the one” settles comfortably into your thoughts.
Phase 3: Disillusionment
So, you’ve raised the sails, pushed offshore, and it’s all been smooth sailing thus far. Well, prepare yourself, because the waters are about to get a little rough. In this phase, you know your partner like the back of your hand, so well, in fact, that they become predictable, and you fear that they may bore you.
You feel like the emotions that the once-overwhelming emotions you felt are going to dissipate. Many couples either go on a break in this phase, or decide that their love won’t last, and break up. Any effort to revive a relationship that has run out of steam will seem futile.
Phase 4: Creating a lasting bond
Think about your relationship as if you’re running a marathon, and you get that cramp in your side. It begins small, and eventually turns into a pain you can’t ignore, but you know if you slow down, you won’t get your second wind.
You know the easiest option is to just give up, but you also know how happy you’ll be if you grit your teeth for the time being. So you just run through it, accepting the discomfort and pushing through until the cramp subsides, and the feeling when it goes is pure bliss.
The phase 3 feeling of disenchantment with your partner may last a long time, but it’s the real chance to test your love for that person by carrying on. Accepting and loving the flaws of your partner will free your mind of all those illusions of doubt you had. This is a time of understanding and healing for both of you.
Phase 5: Using the power of two to change the world
This final stage incurs a crucial revelation about your relationship. Now the two of you have fully accepted each other and faced your shortcomings head on; you realize that this partnership you’ve forged can create and to bring something big to the world. Now the two of you are not going through life together because it’s the easiest option; now there is a bigger cause at play, and you can use your relationship to take on the world.
Love is a confusing thing, but when it lasts, the outcomes can be life-changing. Knowing how to build and maintain a healthy and strong connection is the key to learning about yourself and the world around you. We wish you success in all phases of your relationship in the future.