Stages of a Relationship (The Ultimate Guide + Image Quotes)

When you first meet someone and fall in love, you probably imagine riding off into the sunset and living happily ever after. At least, that's what all of the Disney movies and romantic comedies tell us, don't they?

As we all know, things don't always go as planned.

If you're not sure what stage your relationship is in, or whether it's “normal” or heading for disaster, there's some research to help you figure out what to do. There are ten major stages of a relationship that you may go through.

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With that said, let me begin by saying that there are many different types of relationship stage models out there, but I am going to focus on one by Dr. Mark Knapp because it is a classic, well-accepted theory.
A relationship progresses through ten stages, according to Dr. Knapp. That being said, certain things occur during these phases. While there are ten different stages, they are divided into two distinct phases: coming together and coming apart.

Let us begin with the Coming Together phase: The Coming Together Phase Relationships must begin somewhere, right? Obviously, not every relationship begins in the same manner. Some couples meet through friends or at work, while others meet through a dating app.

There are some distinct stages in the coming together phase, regardless of how a couple begins.

1. The Initiation Stage This is the stage in which you first meet someone. It is the exchange of pleasantries and facts about yourself. It's the all-new “getting to know you” phase. At this point, your attention is primarily focused on superficial characteristics such as appearance and how the person presents themselves.

2. The Experimentation Stage If you survive the initiation stage (which many people do not), you will enter the experimentation stage. Some people don't make it this far because they discover something they don't like in the first stage. During experimentation, you delve deeper into the other person's interests and values.

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3. Intensifying Stage This stage is also known as the “bliss” stage. This is due to the fact that things are becoming more serious and intense. You've learned enough about each other to want to share more personal and intimate details about yourself with the other person. Feelings begin to emerge, and there is a sense of excitement about being in the relationship.

4. Integration Stage Now that you are officially a couple and have feelings for each other, you will begin to blend your lives together in the integration stage. As a couple, you form routines and habits. Your family and friends will begin to recognize you as a unit as well. In other words, you've moved from “me and you” to “us.” The Bonding Stage Because you now see yourselves as a unit rather than two individuals, the bonding stage is when true commitment occurs. You're both certain of your bond, so you'll either move in together or get married. Everyone has their own way of showing bonding, but in the eyes of society, this stage requires some formal commitment.

The Divorce Phase We all want to be happy and live happily ever after, but for many couples, this is simply not the case. Whether you're married, living together, or just dating, most of us go through the coming apart phase at some point.

The stages of the coming apart phase are as follows: 6. The Distinguishing Stage Being head over heels in love and floating on cloud nine doesn't last. Life is not always perfect, even in the happiest of relationships. However, if you've reached the differentiating stage, you're probably on the verge of a breakup. This is the point at which you will notice differences, incompatibilities, and cracks in your unit.

7. The Circumscribing Stage This stage simply continues the differentiating stage. You distance yourself from each other, set boundaries for yourself, communication breaks down, and you become less and less intimate (emotionally, mentally, and physically). You begin to see yourself as an individual more than you did previously. The unit is disintegrating even further. There will be much finger-pointing, defensiveness, and resentment.

8. The Stagnation Stage During this stage, you are no longer progressing in your relationship. You've come to a halt. Consider a pond with algae on it. It doesn't move; the water simply sits there, growing more gross stuff on it. That's pretty much what's going on at this point. The disintegration is nearly complete. Apathy may have also set in – on the part of one or both people.

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9. This stage involves avoidance – either physically, mentally, emotionally, or all of the above. One of you may decide to leave the house, resulting in a legal separation. Or maybe you're still living under the same roof, but you don't talk or interact much anymore. You're like two roommates who don't get along and try to avoid each other as much as you can.

10. The Termination Stage A relationship formally ends during the termination stage. If the couple is married, the divorce is initiated or completed. If you are only living together, one or both of you physically moves out, completing the separation. In a nutshell, this is the point at which the relationship is emotionally and/or legally terminated.

Why Is It Important to Understand Relationship Stages?

Many people find relationships difficult, but they don't have to be. People, most of the time, make them difficult because of their negative emotions and behaviors.

Many problems arise because people are unfamiliar with the various stages of relationships. When problems arise, the more aware we are, the easier it is to repair a relationship.

Final Thoughts It is important to note that if your relationship is in the Coming Apart phase, you do not have to give up hope. You can always return to the Coming Together phase. It takes effort and commitment on both sides, but it is possible to resurrect a relationship that appears to be doomed.

Knowing what stage your relationship is in allows you to take a more proactive approach to repairing it. Some relationships, however, cannot be repaired and must be terminated. It is up to you and your partner to determine where yours is so that you can both find the happiness you deserve – together or apart.

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