Every relationship starts out differently. Every couple has a unique story. Perhaps you were friends for a long time before you started dating. Perhaps the two of you met by swiping right on the infamous dating app, Tinder. Successful relationships can arise from a variety of circumstances, each of which follows its own unique path. Nonetheless, almost all long-term relationships follow a similar pattern of stages.
These stages are distinguished by the things you will say while in them:
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Many of them are upbeat, brimming with adoration and zeal. These stages are most common at the start of a relationship, when you can't get enough of each other. The later stages necessitate the most time and attention, whether with your partner or with other people in your life who have suffered as a result of your relationship.
It's critical to recognize which stage you're in (especially during the more difficult ones) and to understand that they're all normal.
1. The “I Told My Friends About You” Phase
When you tell your friends about the girl you've been seeing (or hooking up with), and then go back and tell her that you told your friends about her, you know things are serious.
This is also known as the infatuation stage, and it occurs when you find yourself bringing them up in random conversations. You find yourself wanting to see them during your lunch breaks or at inconvenient times of the night. This is also the point at which your friends may start complaining about how you're spending your time. People in your life will begin to miss you, but they will hopefully be supportive of your newfound happiness and want to be a part of it.
2. The “I'd Like You to Meet My Parents” Stage
In most relationships, meeting the family is a big deal. It's our subconscious way of welcoming that person into our lives and ensuring they'll fit in. This stage is accompanied by a sense of security. You're at ease enough to introduce them, and you know they'll be at ease enough to be introduced (without feeling freaked out or pressured) to the people who matter the most to you.
It also implies that you want to confirm that you're with the right person. You want to gain the approval of people whose opinions you value. While this stage is often a joyful one, it can also cause a great deal of anxiety for all parties involved. If you are stressed, it simply means that you want everything to go well.
If you are fortunate enough to have found the right person, your family and friends will approve and be both loving and supportive.
3. The “I Love You” stage
It's difficult to put a time limit on this stage because everyone experiences love differently. Some people take their time getting there, while others throw the word around carelessly. My recommendation for this stage is to extend it as long as possible. Don't drop the “L” bomb the first time you get the urge. Waiting to say, “I love you,” will only make it more meaningful when you do.
4. The “It Bothers Me When You…” stage
This stage has always occurred for me around nine months into the relationship. You've spent enough time together at this point to realize that, as much as you hoped, your partner isn't perfect. (No one is…not even you…) It could be the first time they've shown jealousy or a lack of patience, or they've said something that you disagree with.
If you find yourself in this situation, it is critical that you address it. Immediately! Before you go and tell all of your friends about it, sabotaging the entire relationship. Most concerns are minor at this point in the game and will only grow larger if ignored.
Communication is essential. You must recognize that, while you work well together, you are still two distinct individuals. That's fine. Can you accept or learn to appreciate your flaws? If the answer is yes, you should be able to transition smoothly from this stage to the next in your relationship.
5. The “What Do You Want?” stage
This stage develops after a year or more of being together. It's when you find out if your goals are compatible. It's when you start thinking about moving in together. It's when you start talking about the future and deciding if your goals in life are compatible.
This is the most crucial stage in a long-term relationship. It will either make or break you. When it comes to the future, communication and absolute honesty are essential. It is not appropriate to sugarcoat or lie about anything at this time. If you do, you will most likely be dissatisfied in the future.
The sixth stage is the “I Want That Too” stage, also known as the “I Still Love You” stage.
This is the most enjoyable stage of all. If you've made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back. You've earned it.
Long-term relationships are difficult to maintain. Consider the annual increase in divorces. We are all unique, and we live in a time when social media and online dating are prevalent. Many relationships are doomed from the start, but long-term relationships are not unattainable. Determine what you want out of life and then find someone who shares your goals.
Once you've found them, learn about their flaws, and if you still love them at the end of the day, don't let go.
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