The 5 stages of a relationship. (2023)

Why do some relationships end and others last a lifetime?

One reason is that 5 relationships progress in predictable ways.relationship stages.Each phase builds on the previous one.

By understanding the5 stages of a relationship, you'll anticipate each level and won't "get stuck" in any of them.

Here they are5 stages of a relationship(identified byDra. Susan Campbellduring a study of hundreds of couples):

  1. the romantic stage
  2. The power struggle phase
  3. The stability phase
  4. the commitment phase
  5. The co-creation or happiness phase

Now that you know the stage of your relationship, let's get started...


The 5 stages of a relationship. (1)

The love phase begins when we fall in love with someone.

can lastup to 2 yearsand then it ends just as quickly as it started.

In the romantic phase we experience love in its most immature form: falling in love.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary:


— A foolish or extravagant love or admiration.

Infatuation is "dumb" in the sense that we can only see the good in our partner. We completely deny his dark side.

they also just comefor usthrough rose-colored glasses.

A useful way to understand the meaning ofthe romantic phaseis looking through the lens of evolution...

Nature needed a way to ensure that humans would reproduce (and ensure the survival of our species). So nature adapted and called it a thrill.amarto be born.

The feeling of love leads us to mate, but not with just anyone...

Nature makes us fall in love with what seems to be the most irreconcilable person in the universe...

…the person least capable of meeting our needs and most capable of fulfilling our worst nightmares.

Not very romantic, I know... but I imagine you'll shake your head when you see this truth.The 5 stages of a relationship. (2)

Why would nature want us to fall in love with someone so irreconcilable?

Because the same person usually has qualities complementary to ours.for example, we are more analytical and they are more enriching.

Their strengths make up for our weaknesses and vice versa.

Together, the sum of our differences forms a unit that is more resilient than any of us as individuals.

And a strong unit is more likely to survive and ensure the continued existence of the human species.

But of course, when we fell in love, we still couldn't see all the flaws in our partner.

If we had known about them so early, we would have run like crazy in the opposite direction...

WhichExactlyWhy does nature have to drug us!


The 5 stages of a relationship. (3)

When you fall in love, your brain releases a chemical cocktail of fancy names.(including oxytocin, phenylethylamine, serotonin and dopamine).

They are all designed to get your heart pumping and light a fire in your gut.

In fact, the only difference between falling in love and drug addiction is that falling in love is cool.

Much like getting high, falling in love allows you to see your new partner through nice rose-colored glasses, only showing you what makes you feel good and filtering out all the bad stuff.

Your drug-induced haze forces you to realize only where you are similar and hide your partner's flaws.

It also drives you to say and do whatever is necessary to get along and please the other person.

The biggest pitfall of the romance phase is ours.Dishonesty.

It's not that we lie, it's that we're not completely honest. Letting our partner see who we are and what we want can push them away. So we keep parts of ourselves hidden.

Knowing this, are you willing to risk rejection and talk about some potentially difficult topics with your new partner?

For example, it might be helpful right now to know if the two of you are on the same page when it comes to kids or monogamy, etc.

If you can get those "deal breakers" conversations out of the way, the rest of your relationship will be so much better.

Inevitably, the romantic phase ends when the drug wears off.

At that point, your brain stops producing those delicious love chemicals.

You wake up one morning to what I call"lovesickness",lying next to the most incompatible person in the universe"Something is wrong with this relationship.

It can take you anywhere2 months to 2 yearsto happen.

This usually happens when one of you notices somethingdurabilityfor the relationship

Consistency can be symbolized by:

  • just dates,
  • contract,
  • parent meeting,
  • get pregnant,
  • get engaged or marry
  • or anything else that symbolizes permanence to you.

and then hepower struggle stagekicks in (point to the JAWS song here).


The 5 stages of a relationship. (4)

Hollywood glorified itromantic stage, making it seem like the height of romantic conquest.

As a result, when your relationship reaches the power struggle stage, it's easy to

Do you mistakenly assume that your relationship must be flawed because it doesn't look like what happens in the movies?

Often, in the power struggle phase, couples separate or divorce in hopes of finding a more compatible partner... only to find the same patterns reappearing in their next relationship... and the next relationship... and in your next relationship.


The highest percentage of divorces in first marriages occurs here after approximately 3-4 years.

This is such a painful time for most couples that the illusion that "romantic love will last forever" is shattered.

Feelings of disappointment and anger replace it.

The 5 stages of a relationship. (5)

Instead of just seeing their similarities (like you did in the romance stage), you can now only see their differences and flaws.

So you get to work trying to make your partner the person you originally hoped he would be, or punish him for not being, or both.

Often, a partner withdraws,
while the other partner continues...

Often, a partner withdraws,He closes his heart and takes a step back to get some space...

...while the other partner followsthem, demanding your attention while desperately fearing emotional abandonment.

The 5 stages of a relationship. (6)

I call these two charactershagelit's himTortuga.

Most of my work with couples is helping these two types of people get on the same page, meet each other's needs, and be happy together.

If you see this pattern in your own relationship or marriage, it is almost certain that your relationship has entered the power struggle phase.

The goal of this phase of the relationship is for you to establish your autonomy within the relationship without destroying the loving bond you both worked so diligently to build.


The power struggle phase can last from a few months to many years. I have worked with couples who have been trapped in power struggles for over 50 years.

The time it takes for both depends on your:

  1. desire to change,
  2. childhood story and
  3. the quality ofrelationship repair tipsyou can.

If you find that your relationship is stuck in the power struggle phase, I suggest youTake my free relationship support course(opens in a new tab) that provides solutions.


Without the ability to navigate the power struggle phase and resolve your differences, you will keep returning to this painful phase throughout the relationship.

there are 2 possibilitiesmajorityCouples deal with their power struggle phase.

  • Separate:They take the next exit and split up. Often these people are serial daters looking for love but find disappointment instead.
  • SURVIVES:They continue their journey together, surviving the pain and frustration of a relationship stuck in the past that doesn't grow anymore.

    People who choose this option tend to think that good relationships are part of it.sacrificeYCommitment. After all, their relationship is emotionally flat, as is their sex life.


The third option is to doovercome your power struggle, either on their own (which Hailstorms and Turtles almost never deal with) or under the supervision of a professional.

You end the power struggle phase when:

  • discover a reliable way to communicate gently about emotionally charged topics,
  • can quickly mend emotional disconnects between you,
  • can heal old wounds and restore broken trust,
  • learn to share power (and realize that using violence will never get you what you want in love),
  • give up your fantasies of harmony without a fight, and
  • accept and appreciate the differences of others.

The 5 stages of a relationship. (7)

As simple as it sounds, actuallyWin the power struggle phaseit's a bumpy ride for most couples.

It's all too easy for a couple to stop midway and end the relationship because it seems like so much hard work.

This couple is often too afraid to face aspects of themselves that their power struggle phase forces them to do.

If your relationship or marriage is stuck in the power struggle phase, so be it.criticalmay you find someone who knows the terrain to take you to the other side.

I suggest you start with mineFree relationship help course(opens in new window). It has helped thousands of people like you to get back on the same page.

So what can you expect beyond the power struggle?


The 5 stages of a relationship. (8)

Once you learn how to fight a win-win, move on to the stable relationship phase. A period of relative peace follows.

In affirmative casestrictly speakingAs they resolve their differences and come to terms, the thrill of being loved returns.

This time in a deeper and more mature way than in the romantic phase.

Finally, in the stability phase, it becomes very clear that you will never be able to change partners and have given up trying.

You agree that your partner is different from you. Both have clear boundaries and need to respect.If you don't, you will continue to be haunted by the harmful patterns of your power struggle.


You can get stuck in this phase of the relationship if you get too attached to the peace and stability that comes with it. Then boredom can set in quickly.

Remember that all growth requires change and stepping out of your comfort zone. You can continue to grow together by consciously creating new shared experiences.

For example, traveling together or attending a personal development seminar together, or aRelationship Improvement Coursetogether.


The mating phase has nothing to do with marriage.

In the attachment stage, you fully surrender to the reality that you and your partner are human and therefore there are flaws in your relationship.

The 5 stages of a relationship. (9)

They learned to love themselves by having to love themselves. Youto chooseaware of each other.

Can you honestly tell your partner

"Noto needYou. youto chooseYou, like me, know everything I know about you, good and bad.

You begin to experience a wonderful balance of love, belonging, fun, power and freedom.

The trap at this stage is thinking that all your work together is done.

While this may be true on an individual level, your work in the world as a couple is just beginning.

Another pitfall is getting too lazy to maintain your emotional connection.

Or spending so much time together that they sacrifice their own personal goals.


This is the first phase of the relationship where you really find yourself.preparedTo marry.

Many of us get married in the romantic phase, when we're high and before we've learned how to successfully manage conflict.

Pretty crazy right?


At this stage, your relationship is expanding beyond the confines of your family unit and you are moving out into the world like a runaway teenager.

You learned that love is not falling in love, love is not power, love is not stability and love is not obligation.

The 5 stages of a relationship. (10)

Well, of course both are called upon to give back to society in some way.

At this stage, couples often work together on a joint project. It's usually some sort of collaborative creative work designed to make the world a better place.

This project can be anything, eg. a business, a charity, a work of art or a consciously raised child.

None of you could have thought of this project alone. It arises naturally as a result of their growing together through the phases.


If you've been together for many years, be careful not to invest so much energy in the outside world that you forget to nurture your relationship.


These five levels of relationship are not a linear process; they are more like a spiral that spins upwards.

A relationship phase will dominate your relationship the entire time until you learn the lesson of that phase.

You save the lessons learned from each previous stage and carry them with you as you grow together.

You keep going back to the power struggle phase until you learn:

  • Resolve conflicts in a way that builds your partner up rather than tearing them down,
  • build a trusting emotional connection,
  • mend broken trust and heal old wounds,
  • Accept your partner's flaws and appreciate how they differ from you.

The 5 stages of a relationship. (11)

Always arguing about the same things? So it's likely that the power struggle phase still has lessons for both of you to teach.

Most couples don'tAlwaysGet over your power struggle phase. Therefore, the average divorce rate is over 50%.

Consider this probability:Most of us wouldn't end up in the romantic setting, it's just too delicious.

Once we get past the power struggle phase, there aren't many reasons to end our relationship either. We are happy when our needs are met.

This means…

If you are now in the power struggle phase of your relationship (or are single), you probably never got over the power struggle phase. Ever!

Think about the meaning of that for a second.

The power struggle probably sabotagedonestrong relationship you had. What are the chances he won't sabotage your current relationship as well? Lean.

Food for thought, right?

If you need help getting through your power struggle phase,Take my free relationship support course.

So let me know what stage of your relationship you're at (in the comments below).

If you liked this article and want to learn more, join my mailing list (by clicking on the link above).

I am sending you a free training video on how to end conflict and start being happy together.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Gov. Deandrea McKenzie

Last Updated: 01/09/2023

Views: 5990

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (46 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Gov. Deandrea McKenzie

Birthday: 2001-01-17

Address: Suite 769 2454 Marsha Coves, Debbieton, MS 95002

Phone: +813077629322

Job: Real-Estate Executive

Hobby: Archery, Metal detecting, Kitesurfing, Genealogy, Kitesurfing, Calligraphy, Roller skating

Introduction: My name is Gov. Deandrea McKenzie, I am a spotless, clean, glamorous, sparkling, adventurous, nice, brainy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.