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There are various names for the stages of romantic relationships. But at their core, the stages remain the same. Our 5 stages of a romantic relationship is called the "Happily Ever After Cycle." It is called a cycle because throughout the different phases of our lives, our relationships can cycle back and forth through different stages. This is healthy because growth is not a linear process. In order to grow from where we are, we need some challenge in order to progress further. The key to a healthy and lasting relationship is not to attempt to avoid some stages, but to learn to recognize when your relationship has entered a particular difficult stage and what to do about it. 


STAGE 1: The Honeymoon/Idealization Phase

STAGE 2: The Reality/Devaluation Phase

STAGE 3: The
Power Struggle Phase:

STAGE 4: The
Grow or Destruct Phase:

STAGE 5: The
Happily Ever After Phase:

In this blissful initial stage, everything feels perfect. Both partners are on their best behavior, showcasing their most impressive traits and ignoring flaws. This is the phase where feelings are intense, and every interaction feels like a scene from a romantic movie. Idealization is at its peak, and both partners see each other through rose-colored glasses. This stage is filled with infatuation, passion, and an overwhelming sense of connection.

As the initial euphoria starts to settle, reality begins to kick in. This stage is characterized by the recognition of our partner's flaws and imperfections. The same traits that once seemed cute might now be sources of frustration and irritations. The facade of perfection starts to crumble, revealing the true nature of both partners. While this stage can be a challenging wake-up call, it's also essential for building a genuine understanding and deeper authentic connection.

Having seen each other's true selves, partners may now struggle with differences in values, beliefs, and vision for the future. This stage is often marked by conflicts, disagreements, and a struggle for dominance or control in the relationship. Both partners may feel the need to assert themselves and might resist any perceived attempt to change them. It's a turbulent phase, but it's also an opportunity for understanding each other's needs, setting healthy boundaries, and learning effective communication.  This is the phase where one or both partners desire to differentiate themselves as individuals with their own thoughts, opinions, needs, and desires. In this stage, 

couples attempt to go from the "we" of the honeymoon phase into three separate entities: an "I", a "You", and a "We."

This stage is the turning point. After weathering the storm of the power struggle, couples face a crucial decision. They can either grow together, using the understanding and insights gained from previous stages to strengthen their bond (this is where relationship coaching becomes invaluable), or they can let the accumulated resentments and differences tear them apart. For those who choose to grow, this stage involves active self-discovery, problem-solving, forgiveness, compromise, mutual growth, and for some, couples' therapy. Those who can't move past their differences or resist doing the work, end up parting ways.

Contrary to popular belief, "Happily Ever After" isn't the absence of problems but the presence of effective communication and problem-solving, higher self-awareness, and higher emotional intelligence. Couples who reach this stage have learned to navigate the complexities and nuances of a healthy romantic relationship. They've established strong communication patterns, have a deep understanding of their own and each other's needs, and make conscious efforts to nurture their bond. They've realized that love is a continuous journey of understanding, compromise, and mutual respect. While challenges may still arise, they face them together. They move from the belief that their partner is the problem and recognize that their partner is not the problem, the problem is the problem, and they tackle it as a team with the same goal. This team mentality deepens their bond with every hurdle they overcome.

It's important to note that if we desire for our relationship to last forever, that our relationships are likely to cycle through the different stages more than once because life circumstances and personal growth continually evolve. How likely are you or your partner to be the exact same person at 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60+ years old? Challenges, changes, and new experiences can reopen the doorway into each stage. This cyclical process fosters ongoing growth and ensures your relationship remains dynamic and resilient. What's more powerful than developing into your best self, into your full potential, with someone who supports and loves you deeply by your side every step of the way?

Tired of feeling stuck in a particular stage in your relationship? Book your FREE consultation.

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