Where do long lasting and mutually respecting relationships come from? Are they figments of Hollywood’s imagination? Is there a genie that grants happily ever afters? Of course, we know the answer to these questions. Loving and lasting relationships do not suddenly appear overnight, but are forged after many years of commitment and mutual respect. They evolve as couples continuously transform and redefine the definition of what their relationship is and what it means to them.
Relationships go through many stages, each one bringing the couple closer to their true selves and to a truer understanding of their partner. These stages can be classified in a variety of ways and broken into sub phases. For this post, we decided to focus on four main relationship stages.
At the beginning of each relationship, there is a “rose colored glasses” phase. This is the initial phase of getting to know someone by showing them edited versions of ourselves. We put our ideal self on display for the other while potentially negative attributes are put aside as the courtship begins. This is the phase where our initial attraction begins to build for each other and we contemplate a relationship.
Next our budding relationship moves to arguably the best phase, the “honeymoon” phase. This phase can last anywhere from a couple weeks to several years for some couples. In this stage everything about the other person is amazing; they are perfect and can do no wrong in your eyes. We notice all the positive qualities of the other and tend to ignore or overlook any flaws. During this period, the couple starts to bond emotionally and physically and the relationship begins to dominate both lives.
After the honeymoon comes “this is the real me” phase. This period of a relationship is where the unveiling of our true selves takes place. All the idiosyncrasies and quirks of our personalities and those of our partner are revealed and scrutinized. This is the moment of the relationship where both parties take stock in the other and make decisions about the future of the relationship. This phase is critical to a long lasting and nurturing relationship as we have to learn to accept all of our partner, warts and all. This is perhaps the hardest stage of a relationship as it uncovers many truths, but can also be the most beneficial stage, as it forces us to show and embrace our less perfect selves.
The final stage of a relationship can be called many things like the “acceptance” or “loving” phase, but it all means the same. Both partners have laid all their cards on the table and have accepted the other’s shortcomings, flaws, and everything in between. They have also grown from the other stages and learned more deeply about themselves and their partner. They worked together to create powerful connections of deep respect and admiration for their partner. This is hardest to achieve but perhaps the most rewarding stage of a relationship. Once couples make it to this stage, the dream of a happily ever after becomes a closer reality.