8 typical phases of a relationship

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Partnerships are not always easy, which is why some people don’t enter into them in the first place. Others, on the other hand, spend a long time searching for the perfect relationship, but eventually get stuck up to their necks in the couple routine – and have to get out of it. And then there are couples who live happily together for years, go through ups and downs and continue to develop together. 

Here’s what couples go through in a relationship, the challenges they face, and how to get the best out of it. If you know what you are going to face, the chances are higher that you will be able to cope better with crises. Plus: You set the right course early on and make sure that the tingling between you and your partner remains.

In which phase of the relationship are we?

Presumably you haven’t just met, or you wouldn’t be asking this question. It usually pops up when the rosy clouds have long since disappeared. What does the clear view show: bright blue sky, dreary everyday gray or a large construction site? To help you better understand what’s going on with your relationship right now, we’ve listed below the 8 typical relationship stages that most couples go through in longer relationships.

What are the stages of a relationship?

Have you ever run a marathon? If you have, you know: The challenge doesn’t always feel the same along the way. You may start out running at full throttle, looking forward to the course, feeling powerful, and seeing yourself sprinting to the finish line with a smile on your face. But this first phase only lasts for a short time. During the 42 kilometers, in addition to the runner’s high, you will also experience doubts (“Why am I actually doing this?”), a dull run, nasty pain and the man with the hammer. But when you do make it across the finish line, a feeling of happiness and pride sets in. A relationship is similar.

You are not a marathon runner? Then imagine the new time in an exciting job. At the beginning he challenges you, you learn a lot, then come the first doubts, routine, finally perhaps a decision, followed by a change. Of course, this is not an example that can be transferred 1-to-1 to a relationship, but it proves that good things always go through an evolution.

Which typical phases your love relationship goes through and how it stays healthy in the long run, you will find out below.

How long do the phases of a relationship last?

This question cannot be answered in a general way. You would like to be in some phases longer than others. How long a phase actually lasts, however, also has something to do with how you exert influence. For example, it is said that the infatuation phase lasts a maximum of 18 months. But it’s up to you whether you shorten or lengthen this phase. However, the assumption that you will stay in this first phase forever is a fallacy and the guarantor for the failure of a relationship.

How to recognize if the woman at your side is the right one

1. Stage of a relationship: the infatuation phase

This phase is hot! You are extremely attracted to each other, can’t keep your hands off each other and would like to spend every free minute together. You see your partner only from her good side, you don’t notice her flaws or suppress them. Hormones and neurotransmitters are now having a party in your body – they also make you do things that you would never do otherwise.

Here’s how to get the most out of the relationship phase: Enjoy the sex, the desire, the shared curiosity about each other. But be careful not to do reckless things that you will regret later. By the way, there is also something good about the end of the infatuation phase. Imagine if you were still so damn excited after years, constantly psyched up, aroused and on cloud nine in your mind – no human being could survive everyday life like that permanently.

2. Relationship phase: the understanding phase

In this phase it becomes more profound. You get to know each other better, talk all night, tell each other secrets and gossip about exes. You discover exciting sides of your beloved and sometimes you wonder why you met this amazing woman only now – after all, you are almost soul mates. “In this phase, the body already shuts down the production of love hormones. Some couples now think that that’s it for love and look for new partners with whom they can experience the high again. But actually it’s only just beginning,” explains Eric Hegmann, couples counselor from Hamburg.

This is how you get the best out of the relationship phase: Talk to each other, because who knows if you’ll still have as much drive to do so in later relationship phases. Get to know the woman at your side, listen to her. This is how you build trust, which creates a good basis for a relationship. You don’t have to go completely bare: If you reveal too much, she might hold it against you in times of crisis.

3. Phase of love: the hello everyday phase

By now you don’t feel the need to tear each other’s clothes off at every possible opportunity. The nights spent talking also decrease. One experiences the common everyday life. In this phase, the first disagreements usually occur.

This is how you get the best out of the relationship phase: Before you get angry about your partner’s quirks, you should take a look at your own nose. Don’t you have some quirky habits too? By compromising, you not only avoid unnecessary quarrels, you also prove to your beloved that you mean business. By the way: “Calling a partner’s qualities quirks is already a devaluation. In a mature relationship, partners acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” says the couples’ counselor.

4. Phase of a relationship: the getting-together phase

A few months have passed. You know each other better, you have different expectations of your partner. This sometimes leads to nice surprises, other times to disappointment. Without the rose-colored glasses you see the unadorned reality. Husband and wife tend to want to change the partner: “Don’t you want to stop smoking?” or “Why don’t you put on a skirt?”.

This is how you get the best out of the relationship phase: It’s okay to speak your mind. It’s helpful to clash sometimes, too. You learn to compromise now. In order to keep the relationship stable, you should not try to educate your partner to be a different person. Respect her wishes and needs. “Many couples hope that love will solve everyday conflicts, but it has nothing to do with love or rejection if the partner has other interests, but with normal human differences. You have to put up with them and learn to respect your partner’s differences,” advises Hegmann.

5. Phase of a love: the all-good phase

You now know about what you can expect from your partner and you can deal with it. The relationship feels quite comfortable, you can manage everyday life as a couple well. At this stage, thoughts about marriage and children typically arise.

Here’s how to get the most out of the relationship phase: Many couples tend to rest on their laurels during this phase. But even a flowering plant needs water and sun to continue to thrive so beautifully. Don’t forget the little tokens of love in everyday life! “Use the experience to be able to look back later on moments of happiness that you have worked out and experienced together. This helps to keep the optimism for the common future. Because only this optimism ensures that later both partners continue to invest in the relationship,” explains the relationship expert.

6. Relationship phase: the big crisis

You’ve been living together for a while now. But what happened to sex and fooling around together? When the routine in a relationship gets out of hand, many people start to doubt: “Don’t I want more in my life?” or “Is she really the right one for me?”. Many compare themselves with couples who are in other relationship phases. The risk for a fling is high.

How to get the best out of the relationship phase: It is the acid test of every relationship. The doubt phase does not always have to be particularly drastic. Think carefully about what part you yourself have played in the fact that something may have gone wrong in the partnership. Do not compare yourself with other couples, but remember why you fell in love with this woman and what you appreciate about her. If you alone or the two of you don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, talking to a couples therapist can help.

7. Stage of love: the sexual research journey

Sex is rarer than you would like it to be? “Sex is as important as sex is to the respective partners in the relationship. But fundamentally, sex is just not only passion and procreation, it’s also communication that says, ‘You’re okay, I like it when you touch me,'” Hegmann explains.

At some point, many couples realize that they have to act and start attempts to revive their desire. If that doesn’t succeed, it can lead to dissatisfaction and, in the worst case, an affair. But if the sexual reboot succeeds, it welds the partners even closer together – and not just in bed.

How to get the best out of the relationship phase: Refreshing your sex life sounds exhausting to you? It is anything but that. A time of new sexual discoveries lies ahead of you. By now you know each other so well that you can talk openly about needs and desires. Try out new things in bed as the mood takes you. It will give your partnership a new dimension. “If you can’t find a common path sexually at the moment, you should try to create closeness in other ways,” advises the couples counselor.

8. Phase of a relationship: the great security

If you have gone through all phases, you will be rewarded by a great security. You give each other closeness, but you can also each pursue your own interests. Love and trust have reached a point that nothing can shake so quickly.

This is how you get the best out of the relationship phase: Very many people wish for exactly the state you are in right now. Enjoy it. Show your partner how proud you are that you have overcome ups and downs together. Keep the relationship going by still surprising each other after all this time. “Stay best friends – or work on becoming best friends,” says Hegmann.

Bottom line: from small to great love lives

Love thrives: the initial, tender infatuation eventually turns into a full-blown love that nothing can shake so quickly. There are many stumbling blocks along the way, which must be cleared out of the way together or even used as a jumping-off point. What then awaits you? Exactly the relationship you desire.

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