(Closed) The 5 stages of relationships: Where are you & your SO?

posted 6 years ago in Relationships
  • poll: Which of the five stages are you and your SO currently in?
    Stage One: Romance : (10 votes)
    3 %
    Step Two: Power Struggle : (31 votes)
    10 %
    Step Three: Stability : (50 votes)
    16 %
    Step Four: Commitment : (178 votes)
    55 %
    Step Five: Co-Creation : (52 votes)
    16 %
  • Post # 3
    2203 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: June 2014

    Huh that’s really interesting! I think my Fiance and i are in the stability stage or nearing the commitment stage. We definitely had a long power struggle phase which I’m really glad we are out of lol. I do sometimes get a little bored before I realize how nice it is to not have any arguments or disputes. 🙂 

    Post # 4
    9181 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA

    Interesting!  After 12 years together, we have definitely gone through all these phases up to “committment” – our current phase.  We own a home together and pay our bills jointly, but I don’t think that qualifies us as “co-creating” anything yet…

    Post # 5
    2120 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: May 2013

    maybe you can go into a little detail for each one. how are three and four different? i think we are in co creation. we have two months before the wedding that will be out of town. My Fiance is out of town working on our business (our commercial fishing boat). right now its been a lot of trying to have enough money to fix our boat and do the wedding and survive. im switching departments in april so i will have ,in the fall ,for school. he has def expressed that hes felt im too in the romance stage. i guess you could say. because of the wedding. that i need to think more about our business. i felt like (even after seven years) after our engagement , we went threw a honeymoon faze. (that was a year ago) lol. but have def. fallen into this co creation stage. 🙂


    Post # 6
    3028 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: June 2013

    @souza_2005:  This isn’t the same, but guessing it’s a spin off of this…


    1. Courtship and infatuation.

    This is the Hollywood version of romantic love. It’s the butterflies-in-the-stomach and fluttery heart that feels ever-so good.

    There is an emphasis on finding similarities between each other and glossing over differences. There is a tendency to idealize the other person. There is a high degree of passion and the (unrealistic) expectation that this person will be able to satisfy all needs and wants.

    Each person tends to think of the other person constantly. A scientific explanation suggests why it all feels so blissful: This is when your body’s feel-good chemical production is in overdrive, according to author and counselor John Bradshaw. A biochemical wash of testosterone, dopamine and endorphins flow through your bodies. Being in love can literally be intoxicating, and certain endorphins work to increase energy, elevate mood and increase feelings of well-being. The same endorphins increase sexual desire and make us feel so alive during this period.

    A natural shift away from other relationships and a focus on creating a sense of “we” are common. There is also a danger of identities getting subsumed into one, leading to Bennifer and Brangelina syndrome.

    This phase of enchantment involves plenty of laughter, playfulness, sexual energy and excitement. Everything about the other person is interesting, and there is a desire to reveal as much as possible about one’s self.

    Most experts agree that this phase generally lasts anywhere from two months to two years, and is the shortest-lived of any of the stages of a committed relationship. Couples counselor Dr. Gary Brainerd explains on his blog, relationship-help.com: “The romantic stage is necessary, but temporary. … The couple is hopefully bonded and connected and appropriately committed.” He describes the stage as a little bit of grace in nature. “We are given a taste of the potential of the relationship, but unfortunately, it is a chemically induced taste and cannot and should not last forever.”

    The experience of “falling in love,” however, should create a bond that helps the couple survive through the more tumultuous phases ahead.

    People who are constantly hopping from one partner to the next may be trying to sustain this fantasy period and unable to progress in a relationship beyond it.

    A couple should hang onto those rosy feelings, though if they want to survive the next, rocky stage.

    2. The Power Struggle

    Consider this the reality check. Our bio-chemistry has returned to its normal state, so we are able to see a partner’s shortcomings. It’s the period when a couple begins to deal with (now apparent) differences and adjusts to reality, which begins to set in as euphoria wears off. This can often become a time of disillusionment and conflict.

    Here is where the real work of a relationship begins. The couple may begin to have more minor arguments that escalate into blown-out warfare or a person becomes more withdrawn and isolated. Yelling may appear, often with blame and accusation close behind. Both partners dig in their heels and protect their turf and positions. Bradshaw writes that this early conflict is healthy and perhaps even necessary as both parties are instinctively jockeying for position in the new status quo, and it helps the couple separate a bit from the over-connectedness of courtship.

    Feelings of ambivalence toward the other person may emerge, and each may wonder if he or she is still “in love.” Both want the other person to change, while they remain the same. There is a fear of loss of control, and there may also be a fear about the loss of interest in the partner.

    This is when couples must learn the skills to be able to solve problems, listen to each other, negotiate and resolve conflict. The main goal is to build trust. Many couples never move beyond this stage, and many divorces occur at this point.

    3. Re-evaluation and identity formation

    This stage begins with a fork in the road, when the couple begins to evaluate whether he or she wants to remain in the relationship. The reflection and re-evaluation tend to turn inward, with great isolation and distance between partners. People may disengage and emotionally withdraw. There may be feelings of disappointment. Sexual intimacy may become sporadic or nonexistent.

    You may miss the powerful emotions of romantic love, and it is the stage when an affair is most likely to occur.

    Partners may create a “parallel” marriage at this point, where activities, children and hobbies take over the attention paid to the relationship, Brainerd writes. Children are hard on a relationship, he adds.

    “This is the famous ‘U’ chart of marital satisfaction,” he explains. “For marriages that last, the satisfaction starts high, drops to low as the power struggle starts. It stays low throughout the parallel marriage and rises again in the later part, usually after the children are out of the home.”

    There is a danger of entering a relationship “dead zone” at this point, where a person becomes bored with their partner and life, in general. They may bury themselves in work or a hobby. The feeling of connection is greatly diminished.

    But for a couple to survive beyond this stage, communication, love and trust are critical.

    4. Awareness, Transformation, Synergy

    If the relationship has survived until this point, there is an interest in reconnecting. Each partner must realize his or her own fear of intimacy, and how present behavior is shaped and influenced by what he or she learned and experienced as children in their family of origin.

    They begin to see their own projections and distortions upon the other person. The war is over, and there is a desire to begin the work needed to build peace and understanding. There is a desire and willingness to learn how to work through conflicts and issues to achieve a satisfying resolution. It is a time to establish healthy boundaries, in which the couple can maintain separateness and connectedness.

    The couple recognizes that their relationship has the potential to be more than it is and that each has the power to make changes.

    They are willing to gain new insights about themselves, their partners and their relationship, even if they are painful, in order to address the root of recurring problems.

    There is an acceptance of differences in a relationship.

    5. Reconciliation, Acceptance

    Research suggests less than 5 percent of couples make it to this final stage of completion. Each person is able to take responsibility for their needs and also support the other person. There is a great deal of warmth, mutual respect and a balance between autonomy and union. The couple has figured out how to resolve conflicts quickly. They work together as a team, and resentments are few. They have chosen to be with their partner, flaws and all.

    This is often referred to as realistic love.

    Post # 8
    11233 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper
    • Wedding: August 2013

    4/Commitment, I guess? Overlapping with 5, but we aren’t starting anything together except a family of us.

    Post # 9
    4375 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: September 2012

    I think we’re entering the Co-Creation Stage since our wedding, because we’re building a life together. We’re doing “big” things together (home projects, moving, life planning, finances, etc.) and learning to value “me” time and “us” time.

    I don’t mean to sound like our relationship has been perfect – it hasn’t – but I don’t remember a Power Struggle stage.  Maybe it’s more subtle/minor than it sounds?


    Post # 10
    2718 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: August 2010

    This is really interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    Post # 11
    1846 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: June 2013

    We’ve already done the co-creation stage..but we did that early in our relationship. I’d say we are at the commitment stage,

    Post # 12
    4272 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: April 2012

    I guess since we have a baby co-creation? We do have to make sure to take time for ourselves.

    Post # 13
    2389 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: July 2011

    That is really interesting!!  I think we’re at stage 4 now.  I wish I had known about this while we were going through the power struggle phase – it was really, really hard on us.  There were times when I wondered if I’d made a mistake marrying him.  It’s good to hear that the feelings I was having are totally normal!

    Post # 14
    1583 posts
    Bumble bee

    @discokitty:  this is great! In the huffpost divorce section there is an article about why women are giving up. it has to do with not feeling appreciated in the relationship. Theres always a lot of that on the waiting board.

    Post # 15
    1332 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: May 2014

    This was interesting!  We entered into stage 2 about 1 year into our relationship, and then it took approximately another year in stage 2 to get to stage 3. (it was a tough year, but we powered thru!).

    Now, I feel as if we are lingering in stage 3, but are about ready to step into stage 4.  I have always been one step ahead of him – if I am using this author’s format, and that is OK.  About 3 months ago I was in the stage 4, while he lingered in stage 3.  I then, went back to stage 3 myself, and got comfortable in the stability stage rather than the committment stage.

    Now, I can definitely see the committment stage in the horizon again, for us both, and that is pretty exciting.

    I think the key to any relationship, regardless the stage is communicate, communicate, communicate!!

    Post # 16
    1684 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: May 2014

    We went through “romance” which lasted about 2 years,

    We then went through “power struggle” for about a year, when we took a break. 

    Then, realizing that we are still madly in love with one another, we got back together and worked through all our issues.  This lasted for several years as we were both absolutely sure we were going to get married and have no regrets. 

    We entered commitment a couple years ago when we decided to move in together and work towards getting married.

    Now we are buying a house, planting a garden, planning a wedding, desperate to get a dog, and working towards a future. 

    So, we are entering the co-creation stage.

    I guess I’m very slow moving 🙂

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