Love isn’t all rainbows and butterflies all the time. Like life, love has its own set of ups and downs, and while not every relationship is the same, there are some commonalities they all share.
If you plan on having a long, happy, healthy relationship, chances are you’ll need to go through these eight stages before you get to a place where you’re solid as a rock.
1. THE AWKWARD STAGE
When you catch feelings for someone, things can get awkward pretty quickly. You start worrying about your appearance, what you’re going to say, how you want to come across… all of which can turn into a recipe for disaster. Relax! It’s natural for things to feel awkward at first. You’ll both feel nervous and overthink tiny details. It’s important not to force anything and to just be yourself.
2. THE HONEYMOON STAGE
It goes by other names, such as “the merge” or the “attraction and infatuation” stage. To put it simply, it’s when you’re so entranced by each other that nothing else matters. It’s all about the two of you. Not even the world around you exists. It’s cute, it’s a whirlwind, it’s intoxicating. However, it can be blinding. During this stage, go easy with making big decisions. Enjoy the fun times together, but don’t get hasty.
3. THE COMFORTABILITY STAGE
This is where your partner’s quirks come into play. You’re feeling more comfortable with each other -enough to start showing more of your true colors. Some mannerisms will annoy you and the same goes for them with you. During this stage, don’t be so quick to throw in the towel if you see something you don’t like. Red flags are necessary to take into consideration, but little quirks like humming all the time shouldn’t be the reason to end it.
4. THE COOPERATION STAGE
Appreciation of each other plays a huge part in a successful relationship. It’s one thing to accept their quirks, but it’s another to understand what’s beyond the surface. At this phase, you’re diving in deeper. You’re getting to know them on a more emotional and intimate level. While this builds a strong foundation, don’t get caught up in “fixing” your partner.
5. THE SHIFTING STAGE
Think of yourselves as tectonic plates (don’t worry, this isn’t a secret boring science lesson). When the plates collide, an earthquake happens. All that pressure and tension built up is released and the plates shift. In a relationship, you’ll encounter times when stress will build and unforeseen circumstances will arise. It’s how you handle them that’ll determine where you go from here.
6. THE COMMITMENT STAGE
Whether you’ve been exclusive from the start or are headed towards marriage, the feeling is the same: you’re ready for the long-term. This means committing 100% to this person. Now you don’t have to worry about whether they like you, if they think you’re cool, or if they see you as more than a friend. You’re assured, you’re confident, and so are they. When things get tough, just remember your love for one another.
7. THE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE STAGE
This is it. Cue the happy-sounding instrumental music! You both have made it so far. In fact, when you think back to the beginning, it feels like you’ve known each other all your lives. You’ve weathered the storms, conquered fears, and came together in a way you never imagined possible with another human. While it’s not always a picture-perfect life, you wake up every day knowing your relationship is enough.