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How Many Stages Are There in a Romantic Relationship? Sort by:
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Posted on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 12:08

We have all been exposed over and over to romantic stories from movies and television, and the story always ends when the romantic partners finally get together and live happily ever after. In actuality, this is when the real relationship story begins. There are several stages that relationships go through over time, but most of us want the happily ever after — and believe our relationship should be easy. This is a myth. Satisfying, mature, relationships happen when both people work hard to maintain a sense of safety with each other.

According to Stan Tatkin PhD, there are a few stages in love relationships. These stages will help you identify where you are in the development of your own relationship. All three involve very different emotional states, so they require an adjustment with each transition.

The 3 Love Relationship Stages:

1. Romantic Love

You are driven in this stage to idealize your potential partner. You experience the emotions of joy and excitement. The novelty of a new love leads you to think about your partner day and night, imagining all the possibilities of how this person can fulfill your deepest desires. You want to spend every moment of every day with your new partner in the bliss of newly discovered love.

Here, you should remember the saying, “If it’s too good to be true it usually is.” There’s a reason for this adage. In this stage of romance, your brain is not able to access and incorporate red flags, or flaws in your potential partner. You only see their potential and how you feel when you are with them. Your brain is literally addicted to the feeling of being in love. In this stage, you biologically lose your brain’s prefrontal lobes’ (the thinking and logical part of the brain) ability to reason.

Romantic love is the fodder of Hollywood movies and stories. Romantic love sells, and we can’t get enough of it. But media representations of these stories give a false sense of what a relationship should look like, and set us up for disappointment in real relationships.

2. Realistic Love

As a counselor, I hear the same story over and over, “Our relationship is not easy or fun anymore.” This is the beginning of the second stage of love relationships, which is realistic love. It is most often in this stage that people get stuck. Idealization of your partner diminishes and you begin to see who your partner really is — and they begin to see you. All your flaws are exposed to each other and it is here when couples start really being challenged in the relationship.

It is in this stage where couples either make it or break it. The time frame for this stage varies wildly. Some relationships are ditched immediately, others endure bickering and unmet needs for many years. If you only believe in romantic love, your bubble will undoubtedly be burst in this stage. You will begin to feel cheated, or that you “settled” for a partner who is not the person you fell in love with. You will begin to feel resentful, and resort to blaming your partner for your unmet needs. Thus starts a cycle of blaming, hurt and despair. If you feel this is you, contact a marriage counselor sooner rather than later.

In my experience, couples wait too long to seek counseling. They live for years with blame, resentment and hurt before they seek help. Sometimes one partner is doing all the work to keep the relationship together and ultimately this strategy results in feeling depleted and frustrated. Eventually the depleted partner will decide they are totally done, and their partner will be surprised when the relationship ends. Some partners will step up to the plate and begin giving to the relationship when they realize they can no longer just take from it.

There is a healthy way to transition through this stage of realistic love relationship and move to a more mutually safe and secure functioning. I encourage any couple that recognizes they are living with negative patterns of behavior to get help with their relationship. This help will involve learning about yourself and your partner at a fundamentally deeper level. Find out what your unmet needs are, and work to feed your partner’s unmet needs too.

3. Mature Love

This stage is marked by safety and security in the relationship. Both people feel fulfilled and cared for by the other person. Isn’t that what you want and desire? The only way to obtain mature love is to work through the previous stages: there are no shortcuts. In this stage you and your partner know each other at a deep and intrinsic level. You know your own desires and wounds, and you choose to accept your partner’s desires and wounds in turn. In other words, you have each other’s backs — for better or worse.

Every one is human and makes mistakes. Each stage of love is wrought with mistakes; the important thing is that the two of you commit to working through the mistakes and build safety together. In this stage, love is an action and a feeling word. No longer worried about losing the relationship, you can experience this type of love as safe, satisfying and passionate.



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Jenkneee
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Posted on Tue, Oct 01, 2013 12:26

Quoting Dakota35:

Good luck on the date Jenkneee.  Maybe he's the one.  I wouldn't worry about social skills, just act as you normally do.  After all we need to let people see who we really are, not fake it.   To many fakes already in this world.  I've had one blind date in my life and WOW she was good looking (kicking myself).  On the other hand I recently had someone try to fix me up and I'm glad I got a viewing before a blind date.  Now if I'd have been the blind one in the blind date, then it might have worked.  If a woman or man is born UGLY then that's nature, but growing twice the size of a normal human...well that's the work of the fast food gods.  Just not my thing since I'm into fitness.  Let us hope the fast food gods have not gotten to your blind date...nor those liberal demons. :-)

 

Seriously, I hope it's the best date EVER!  Someone here needs to find success.

 

 



Thanks Dakota :) It turned out to be a very nice surprise and a great night! What a difference from my last date :/   

We had a good dinner and then got I was surprised with tickets to go see one of my favorite comedians (Brian Regan) then went to a nighclub. I think a lot of pressure was off since it was a double date. I really don't know if the guy liked me in a romantic sense though, typically i can get a better reading but he was hard to crack! I think part of the reason was because we were with our friends and he was the more quiet type. Hmmm.

 

My girlfriend's date was one of the nicest and outgoing guys I've ever met in California and both guys were generous which is something I am unfamilar with. I didn't make it home till 3:30 in the morning!! I am going to blog about it in my forum thread sometime soon. I think we will have to have a second double-date (hang-out may be the better word for me?) cuz we had so much fun the first time around :)

If anyone is interested in reading my stuff or sharing their own life story, check it out.

Go to; Forum, then LIFE, under the LIFE heading, my title is "Tell us something/anythingabout yourself"



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Dakota35
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Posted on Sat, Sep 28, 2013 23:13

Quoting MillionDollarBab:

Oh, Dakota Dakota Dakota....

Never mind.  There's just too much going on here to address in a comment.  I just don't think obesity is 100% the fault of the obese person.  I think there are things that may be done to help, like diet and exercise.  It seems to me that probably the majority of people have the cards stacked against them in the weight department.  Yes, I agree, there would be few people twice the normal size without fast food.  Well, I could go on, but just one other point.  Men tend to have less of a problem with obesity than women because men usually have a lot more muscle mass to burn calories with.  Not to mention the fact that estrogen itself causes a tendency to weight gain, thus it is given to cattle to fatten them in feedlots.  



Hey Bab,  The American diet has a lot to do with weight gain.  There is a young lady on this site that once weight 270lbs and now weights 125lbs and is very beautiful.  In fact I'm interested in her as she seems also beautiful on the inside. She lost the weight in 1 year, cutting down on portions and walking.  She is a inspiration to many women.  Weight gain is to some extent in our genes but it's what goes in our mouth/stomach that goes to our genes.  In today's world we can no longer blame hormones...as we can regulate and replace hormones.  If estrogen levels are to high then they should be lowered since cancer will feed on estrogen.  We may have not been born with the perfect genes but we can control our diet and exercise.  If not for vanity, then for our health.

 

Just so you guys know, I'm not going to be posting much on the blogs any longer.  I have become angry with MM censorship and limiting freedom of speech.  Those that have been here awhile know exactly what I mean.



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MillionDollarBab
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Posted on Sat, Sep 28, 2013 16:53

Quoting Dakota35:

Good luck on the date Jenkneee.  Maybe he's the one.  I wouldn't worry about social skills, just act as you normally do.  After all we need to let people see who we really are, not fake it.   To many fakes already in this world.  I've had one blind date in my life and WOW she was good looking (kicking myself).  On the other hand I recently had someone try to fix me up and I'm glad I got a viewing before a blind date.  Now if I'd have been the blind one in the blind date, then it might have worked.  If a woman or man is born UGLY then that's nature, but growing twice the size of a normal human...well that's the work of the fast food gods.  Just not my thing since I'm into fitness.  Let us hope the fast food gods have not gotten to your blind date...nor those liberal demons. :-)

 

Seriously, I hope it's the best date EVER!  Someone here needs to find success.

 

 



Oh, Dakota Dakota Dakota....

Never mind.  There's just too much going on here to address in a comment.  I just don't think obesity is 100% the fault of the obese person.  I think there are things that may be done to help, like diet and exercise.  It seems to me that probably the majority of people have the cards stacked against them in the weight department.  Yes, I agree, there would be few people twice the normal size without fast food.  Well, I could go on, but just one other point.  Men tend to have less of a problem with obesity than women because men usually have a lot more muscle mass to burn calories with.  Not to mention the fact that estrogen itself causes a tendency to weight gain, thus it is given to cattle to fatten them in feedlots.  



Bab : )

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Dakota35
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Posted on Sat, Sep 28, 2013 02:22

Quoting Jenkneee:

Ha Dakota, since you put it that way, it's the same with me! I don't even get to sway with someone else,lol.

Recently I decided to act brave and I've been testing it out. Tomorrow night is my first blind date plus it's a double date with someone that I know only one thing about and that's his age.  It won't be a disaster cuz my girlfriend will be there with her date and we always manage to have fun but no matter what, this will be one for the record books. I will be putting my social skills through some heavy-duty practice.

 

 



Good luck on the date Jenkneee.  Maybe he's the one.  I wouldn't worry about social skills, just act as you normally do.  After all we need to let people see who we really are, not fake it.   To many fakes already in this world.  I've had one blind date in my life and WOW she was good looking (kicking myself).  On the other hand I recently had someone try to fix me up and I'm glad I got a viewing before a blind date.  Now if I'd have been the blind one in the blind date, then it might have worked.  If a woman or man is born UGLY then that's nature, but growing twice the size of a normal human...well that's the work of the fast food gods.  Just not my thing since I'm into fitness.  Let us hope the fast food gods have not gotten to your blind date...nor those liberal demons. :-)

 

Seriously, I hope it's the best date EVER!  Someone here needs to find success.

 

 



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Jenkneee
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Posted on Sat, Sep 28, 2013 00:18

Quoting Dakota35:

All I get from this is:  The trees are even getting more action than me. :-)

 

But I do like it Jenkneee.



Ha Dakota, since you put it that way, it's the same with me! I don't even get to sway with someone else,lol.

Recently I decided to act brave and I've been testing it out. Tomorrow night is my first blind date plus it's a double date with someone that I know only one thing about and that's his age.  It won't be a disaster cuz my girlfriend will be there with her date and we always manage to have fun but no matter what, this will be one for the record books. I will be putting my social skills through some heavy-duty practice.

 

 



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Dakota35
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Posted on Fri, Sep 27, 2013 21:48

Quoting Jenkneee:

I've always liked this movie quote. One definition of both lust & love.

 

 

Iannis: When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No... don't blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn't sound very exciting, does it? But it is!

                                                                  From the movie:   Captain Corelli's Mandolin


 

 



All I get from this is:  The trees are even getting more action than me. :-)

 

But I do like it Jenkneee.



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Jenkneee
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Posted on Fri, Sep 27, 2013 18:01

Quoting Livnlov:

Jen,

 

Those trees are making out big time! Is that a baby I see at the roots! Bang!! Reality sets in - LOL!!

 

I love your post by the way :-).

 

Liv.



Lol, thanks Livnlove, I thought the baby added to it, reality being one of them!! I love the sentence,

"You have to work out whether your roots are become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part."  I hope I get to the part when I know it is inconceivable to ever part..and he also knows it. sigh.  With the dates I've had lately, I am ready to part after the first 10 minutes!!

Hope you are doing well. I don't always get back to your posts with a reply but I do appreciate any good will so thank-you for that :)

 

 



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Livnlov
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Posted on Fri, Sep 27, 2013 11:15

Quoting Jenkneee:

I've always liked this movie quote. One definition of both lust & love.

 

 

Iannis: When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No... don't blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn't sound very exciting, does it? But it is!

                                                                  From the movie:   Captain Corelli's Mandolin


 

 



Jen,

 

Those trees are making out big time! Is that a baby I see at the roots! Bang!! Reality sets in - LOL!!

 

I love your post by the way :-).

 

Liv.



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Jenkneee
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Posted on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 23:41

I've always liked this movie quote. One definition of both lust & love.

 

 

Iannis: When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No... don't blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn't sound very exciting, does it? But it is!

                                                                  From the movie:   Captain Corelli's Mandolin


 

 


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Dakota35
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Posted on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 20:14

What about relationships that start based solely on lust?  I'm pretty sure that many mistake/confuse lust for love.  Sadly, I don't even think that many know what love really means or have experienced it.  That would explain why the divorce rate continues to climb. 

 



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