These 6 stages of new relationship and dating apply to all men and women but this guide is exclusively created for my women subscribers.
To begin with, men or women we learn about commitment and how relationships work from our culture.
The secret is that within the commitment and relationship maintenance the concept of 6 stages of a new relationship apply.
Sadly, if you’re learning how relationships work by watching “Desperate Housewives,” you’re not going to necessarily learn the best models for your own relationship.
We tend to think that if we want our relationship to grow and improve, we have to go through stages.
Like, the first thing is we have to meet each other, getting to know you stage of a new relationship.
And then the next stage is dating, and then we move in together, and then he proposes if you’re a woman or you propose if you’re a guy, and then you get married and you have kids, etc., etc.
But one of the problems with that is that all of those social markers of commitment are external. Basically, you’re allowing society to tell you how committed you are.
[For example, if] you’re married [we assume] that must mean you’re more committed than people who are just dating.
But I’m sure all of you have seen married couples who actually don’t seem that committed to each other, and I’m sure all of you have seen unmarried couples who are.
Goldie Hawn comes to mind; her 25-year-old relationship is more committed than most marriages, but they’re not married.
So what I wanted to do with this guide is give you a better model for commitment in a relationship, a model that really reflected what each of you felt inside about each other.
It’s a little more psychological, which might not be as fun to some people, but it’s much, much more accurate.
So, with that big introduction, I’ll tell you about the six stages to a new relationship! This is actually how a lot of counselors model relationships.
Stage 1: Falling in Love, and getting to know you stage of a relationship
The first stage of a new relationship, which is the most fun, the one we all like, is falling in love.
A lot of counselors don’t put much faith in this stage of a relationship, because when you fall in love, you are on a chemical high.
It’s like all of these fireworks are exploding in your brain.
All you want to do is be with this person and make love to this person and believe that you’re going to be with them forever and lead a perfect life.
But the sad thing is: you are actually literally intoxicated.
You are not thinking straight. The whole down side of falling in love is that you are on such a high that you can’t see the other person very clearly.
It’s almost like the “beer goggles effect.” You’ve got these rose-tinted glasses on, and you can only see the good about this person and not the bad.
All of that makes it terribly fun – it’s actually one of the most fun stages of a relationship to be in – but it doesn’t set any foundation for a long-term relationship or commitment, because you don’t know who you’ve just fallen in love with.
You’ve fallen in love with your vision of them, not the real person.
Stage 2: Reality Check The Terrible Stage of a New Relationship
The second stage of a new relationship, which probably breaks up most budding relationships, is the reality check.
This is just a terrible part of a relationship, because it’s when you look at that person that you have fallen in love with and you realize they’re not perfect.
Maybe you look at your guy and you think, Am I really happy with him? “The way they treat their parents is just awful!”
Or maybe your partner starts dissing your friends and saying, “I hate hanging out with your friends.
They’re really dumb,” and you think, “How could you say that? You’re my partner. You’re supposed to support my friends!”
Or maybe your partner has a lot of baggage, and that all starts coming out.
The reality check is going to be hard.
There’s no question that taking off those rose-tinted glasses and seeing someone in front of us, something who may now seem like a stranger, is going to be painful.
But, see, this is why commitment’s important!
Because if you’re committed, you’ll be able to handle that.
You’ll be able to look at this person and say, “You know what? You’re imperfect, but I’m imperfect too. So let’s give this a go.
I can handle your imperfections if you can handle mine.”
So you’re accepting that they’re not exactly the person you thought they were, but that’s okay, and you’re moving forward.
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Stage 3: Power Struggle The Most Crucial Stage of a New Relationship.
But the problems aren’t over yet. Then you hit the power struggle.
I would say that a good 80% of marriages stay stuck in this.
You’ve heard the phrase, “You’re arguing like an old married couple”?
Well, the reason you’re arguing is because you both want things to go your way.
See, when you fall into a relationship, you are two individuals with very different tastes and very different lifestyles.
You’ve got a certain way you want your life to go, and you have a certain vision of how you think your partner should fit into that.
But as much detail as you have in your vision of the “perfect” life, your partner has a completely different idea.
So who’s going to win? Do things go your way, or do things go your partner’s way?
Do you guys spend money based on your financial philosophy, or do you spend money based on your partner’s?
Do you keep the house as tidy/messy as you want, or is it as tidy/messy as your partner wants?
There are so many things you’ll struggle with.
You even struggle with daily things like,
“I want to go to this movie,” or, “No, I want to stay home.”
“I want to go for Chinese,” or, “No, I want to go to Italian.”
You fight over infinite things. And the reason you fight is because it’s really challenging for two individuals to become a single cohesive unit moving in the same direction.
That’s so tough! And most of us are used to fighting to get what we want.
We’re used to manipulating people, arguing, digging our feet in and not budging until things go our way.
And that’s what causes the power struggle, fear, and doubts in relationship unfortunately.
Once you’re in that stage of a relationship, you almost see your partner as the enemy.
You think, “Gosh, life would be perfect if only my partner would do what I think we should do.”
Stage 4: Reevaluation For Me The Deciding Stage of a Relationship (Live Together or Leave Each Other)
At that point, you’re facing Stage #4: Reevaluation.
At that stage, you’re really asking yourself a question:
“Do I really want to compromise and live the rest of my life with this person who clearly doesn’t share my views about how we should spend our money or where we should live or what we should do with our lives?”
Reevaluation is pretty serious.
This is the stage of a relationship where couples often report that they’ve fallen out of love.
They don’t love each other anymore.
They feel isolated and withdrawn; they don’t want to be close to each other, because they see their partners as this enemy who’s basically [thwarting them from having the life they deserve.
In other words, they think that] if their partner would only do the “right” thing, their relationship could be perfect, but because their partner’s so selfish, things aren’t going right.
This is a stage where, again, commitment is important.
Because if you’re really committed to this relationship, you will hang on.
You’ll reevaluate the relationship and say, “You know what?
The way I want things isn’t actually that important.
My partner’s a different person, and I can learn a few new tricks.
I can try things their way. It’s okay. I’m willing to compromise. And you know what? I’m willing to take responsibility for the way things are.
It’s not just my partner’s fault that we’re fighting all the time.
I probably have some things to learn, too.” So that’s reevaluation.
Stage 5: Reconciliation
If you get through there, you get to Stage #5, which is reconciliation. My favorite quote for this stage is “Choose your love, then love your choice.”
It’s beautiful, isn’t it? At a certain point, you’re going to fall out of love with your partner, and that’s okay. It’s natural.
You’ve just got to say, “Right!
This is the person I choose to be with, and I know I’m going to fall in love and out of love.
I’m going to hate them [sometimes], I’m going to like them [sometimes], but, no matter what, I’m committed.”
That’s a great stage of a relationship to be in, because you’ve accepted responsibility for working things through in your relationship.
Because, honestly, you don’t want to stay stuck fighting with someone forever!
But if you don’t do anything about your relationship, you are going to fight forever.
So this is really important: you’ve got to commit to working things through and to accepting responsibility for the way things are.
Stage 6: Acceptance in a Relationship. (Only 1 in 20 Couple Make It)
Stage #6, which is everybody’s favorite – we all want to get there – is acceptance.
Estimates are that only 1 in 20 couples make it. One in twenty … that’s a fraction!
I know! The key thing that happens in acceptance is – and it’s something most of us didn’t even get from our parents – that you attain something called unconditional love.
Now, we all love the sound of that. We think, “Ooo, that sounds good!” But what is unconditional love?
In unconditional love, you love your partner, faults and all.
You know that thing your partner does that really annoys you, that you hate, and you think, “Why don’t you just stop it?” [Well, with unconditional love] you accept that, and you love that.
You’re like, “Right, that’s [part of what makes you] you, and I can deal with that. It’s not a big deal.”
And when your partner says, “Why do you want to go visit your parents for Christmas?
I want to go to the Bahamas, and I’m not going to spend money to go see your parents because I think it’s stupid,” and you think, “But you’re my partner; you should support me!”
Well, guess what?
You love him anyway.
It’s just a fight; you can make through this.
And that’s where we all want to be. I think it’s very possible. But how keep reading below!
Bonus: Understanding the Stages of a Relationship.
It’s so important to understand these different stages of a relationship, too.
Just moving through them, when you’re in that Stage #1, that “falling in love” stage, you mentioned “beer goggles.” I like to say: you’re just “floating on cloud nine” where reality never really hits you.
And then it’s interesting that you call Stage #2 that “reality check,” because it does finally click in.
Moving through these stages of a relationship, it almost seems like your maturity level seems to grow with it.
In order to get through a power struggle, you really have to become more mature and look at yourself and your own imperfections, and that’s something that’s really difficult for a lot of people to do.
Now, there are going to be people out there saying, “What?
But my partner is 50% of this. You can’t put responsibility on me for the things my partner does.
That’s his or her problem – that ain’t mine!”
But the thing is: that is your [problem].
You don’t realize it, but the way you act has an enormous influence on how your partner responds.
Like, you could say something like, “Did you get the milk?
I can’t believe you didn’t get the milk!
Why don’t you ever get the milk?
I always ask you to get the milk, and you don’t do it, and I’m really upset about it.”
Then your partner goes all grumpy, ignores you, and turns away from you in bed at night, and you think, “My partner is such a dork!
I just told him something that was true, and he should have just accepted it [and apologized].” That’s what you could do.
Or you could say, “Hey, honey?
You know it’s really important that we get the milk, because without it I don’t have any milk for the kids’ cereal in the morning, and I can’t make you your cup of tea, and I love making you cups of tea. So would you go get the milk?
Would you mind going to the store?
I know it’s a big favor to ask, but you really do need it.”
And your partner is like, “Oh, honey, I love you! I’m so sorry I forgot. Please forgive me,” and he runs off and gets the milk.
You can blame your partner for not living up to who you want them to be, but ultimately, if you want your relationship to succeed, you cannot afford to see your partner as a disappointment.
I’m going to tell you right now: your partner is going to disappoint you.
They’re going to disappoint you in numerous ways, some you can’t even believe.
But your partner should never be a disappointment to you, because you love them.
If they make a mistake, yeah, whatever. It’s a mistake.
You’re temporarily disappointed, you forgive them, and you move on.
Having that respect for each other – the respect that says, “I’m not going to yell at you, because you’re a human being and you made a mistake.
We all have made that mistake,” and moving on – will get you further in a relationship than you can even imagine.