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9 Relationship Stages That All Couples Go Through

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Wondering what relationship stage you’re in right now? Here are the 9 relationship stages that all couples go through, no matter how the love starts. By Elizabeth Arthur

relationship stages

Relationships are unique.

And one experience of love is never ever the same.

You may have been in several relationships in your life, and all of them may have been very different from the earlier one.

But there are a few traits about every single relationship that binds all relationships along a similar path.

Relationship stages in your love life

Relationships, just like life, have their own stages. It starts off with infatuation and goes through several stages along the way.

And these stages are like tests that check your compatibility with each other.

Go wrong anywhere along the way, and your relationship will take the brunt of the fall.

Have you ever met a couple who seemed like they were going to stay together forever, but ended up breaking up a few years later?

[Read: Top 20 reasons for divorce that most couples overlook]

Perhaps, in all probability, they went wrong in one of these stages of the relationship.

The 9 relationship stages that all couples experience

Are you in a new relationship? Or are you in a seasoned relationship with someone you’ve been with for several years?

It doesn’t matter how long your relationship has lasted, because all the relationships will fit snugly in one of these relationship stages.

Find your own relationship stage here, and it’ll definitely help you understand your own love life better.

Stage #1 The infatuation stage. This is the first stage in every relationship. It almost always starts with an intense attraction and an uncontrollable urge to be with each other. Both of you may be intensely sexually attracted to each other, or both of you may just love the cuddles and each other’s company. In this stage, both of you overlook any flaws of each other and only focus on the good sides. [Read: New relationship advice to have a perfect start]

Stage #2 The understanding stage. In this stage, both of you start getting to know each other better. You have long conversations with your partner that stretches late into the night, and everything about your partner interests and fascinates you. You talk about each other’s families, exes, likes and dislikes and other innocent secrets, and life seems so beautiful and romantic.

Stage #3 The stage of disturbances. This stage usually forces its way into a happy romance after a few months of blissful courting. Do you remember the first fight or angry disagreement you and your partner had? For the first time ever in the relationship, both of you confront each other over a conflict, even though it’s sorted out quickly. [Read: 10 things to know to fight fair in a relationship]

Stage #4 The opinion maker. In this stage, both of you create opinions about each other. As the months pass by, both of you know what to expect from each other, and you make an assumption about your partner’s commitment towards the relationship.

When these opinions and expectations about your partner differ now and then in real life, it can either leave you ecstatic or depressed.

You don’t expect your man to buy you flowers, but he does. You feel ecstatic. At the same time, you expect him to pick you up from the airport on time. But he arrives an hour later because he forgot all about picking you up. It depresses you.

Stage #5 The moulding stage. You have your own expectations from an ideal partner. And in this stage, both of you try hard to mould each other to fit your own wants in a perfect partner. This stage is a lot about give and take, and both partners constantly try to subtly convince each other to change their behavior towards the relationship. This is a power struggle, and one that can end the relationship if both partners are domineering. [Read: 10 big problems in any relationship and how to fix it]

Stage #6 The happy stage. If the relationship survives past the moulding stage, both of you may have changed equally for each other and understood each other’s expectations. In this stage, the relationship cruises along perfectly and both of you may be blissfully happy with each other.

Almost always, this is the stage when both of you feel like a perfect match. You may even decide to get engaged or get married. This happy stage is also the stage of attachment when both of you truly feel connected to each other and love each other intensely. [Read: How to get him to propose by reading his mind]

Stage #7 The stage of doubts. It’s been several years since both of you have been in a relationship with each other. And somewhere along the way, doubts start to creep in. The intensity of the doubts depend on how happy both of you are in the relationship.

You start to think of your past relationships, your exes, and other prospective partners. You tie your happiness in life with your relationship. If you’re unhappy, you blame it on the relationship.

In this stage, you start comparing your relationship with other couples and other relationships. Would your relationship survive this stage? It definitely could, as long as your relationship isn’t monotonous and repetitive. [Read: How to be a happy couple that’s envied by all other couples]

Stage #8 The sexual exploration or bust stage. This is the stage when your sex life starts to play a pivotal role. Both your sex drives may change or one of you may get disinterested in sex.

In this stage, you either give up on passionate sex or constantly look for ways to make sex more exciting. If sexual interests start differing here, one of you may end up having an affair. But on the other hand, if you find creative ways to make sex more exciting, your relationship could get better and bring both of you a lot closer. [Read: Top 50 kinky ideas for a sexy relationship]

Stage #9 The stage of complete trust. This is the happy stage when both of you love each other and trust each other completely. But at the same time, the unbreakable trust in each other could also turn into taking each other for granted.

In this stage, both of you know the direction of the relationship and both of you are completely happy with each other and find it easy to predict each other’s behavior and decisions. But with stability in love comes the urge to take each other for granted. [Read: How men really fall in love]

As pleasant as this final stage of love may be, it’s still no excuse to take each other lightly or stop appreciating each other, because love is an intense emotion that can be rekindled by anyone else at any time if you fail to express your romance to your lover.

If you’re in a relationship for a while, you may have experienced all or most of these relationship stages. And if you’re still in a young love, don’t let the dark side of these relationship stages scare you.

[Read: 7 secret signs of a bad relationship]

Instead, look at these 9 relationship stages as stepping stones into a better future, one that’s filled with a lot of love and happiness, just as long as both of you remember to keep love alive all the time.


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Have your say!
  • Megan
    August 30, 2012 | Permalink |

    Right now my boyfriend dumped me because he’s going through the Stage #3 The stage of disturbances. – he wants his space to figure himself out, yet we live together and he’s giving mixed signals, I have planned to move out and said I wanted to stay in a relationship and work it out but he doesn’t want that commitment while he thinks. Its confusing because he still talks to me everyday and wants me to stay longer, says he’s confused. I really hope we make it to stage #4 and beyond….

  • sammy
    September 19, 2012 | Permalink |

    hi i am 28 married .i am not happy .first i think i will grow in love but more and more i feel i was wrong.we both used to sleep in the same room ,i left out the room because i feel the only time he knows me is when he want sex.we dont do anything for fun and he goes out and come back home and he just eat and watch tv,he hide stuff ,feel like i am never involved in anything he does its like i am living with a stranger. i had two passed relationship and they havent been the best but i feel sometime more then than i do now .what should i do is it me .i dont feel it help

  • Lidia
    September 23, 2012 | Permalink |

    Sammy, you are not getting any younger. Fix your relationship or start another one. Fast.

  • sefora teshome
    November 2, 2012 | Permalink |

    Sammy, You’ve to work it out the problem in your relationship by yourself & don’t forget to be kind to him.

  • November 4, 2012 | Permalink |

    Sammy, talk to him. He may feel as fed up as you. If he’s wants you to work he will talk. Be honest, even if it hurts him

    After the frank discussions if it is still wrong, time to separate from each other.

  • Rubal
    November 12, 2012 | Permalink |

    Hi. Theres this girl I really like and care about. On two days back she asked me to go for a dinner with her and we had a nice time.Then next day she was really sad due to some personal problem and when i met her she wept while hugging me and said thanks for consoling. Later that evening I texted her ”I am there for you, and I really care about u” and she texted she really likes me…….Now I asked her for coffee on Monday and she agreed. Now How shud i go about it on coffee. Should I express my feelings openly.
    Secondily, I just keep thinking about her all day………can’t concentrate on anything else……Is that normal?

  • Vanessa
    November 27, 2012 | Permalink |

    My Bf and I were on the “Stage #7 The stage of doubts” I’ve been feeling like avoiding him these 2 days… somehow I don’t feel like replying to his message. I don’t know, maybe because he told me he misses his ex and it’s bothering me until today. I always doubt him and we broke up several times, he is always the one who is coming back to me. We both are tired to break up now and perhaps, waiting for the right time to break. :(

  • vac
    December 8, 2012 | Permalink |

    I reached stage #9 after 6 years in a relationship and our sexual attraction died out right about then. It is now 26 years later in the same relationship and we are good platonic friends and partners if you can label it but not lovers anymore for 20 years. She had a fling about 12 years ago which she admitted to and I accepted because I did not give her much attention while building my business. I have not been with another women for frigging 20 years and I am going through mid life crises so severe it is ripping me to pieces. It is impossible to get the sexual attraction back with her – it is not a choice.. I crave feminine touch, intimacy and passionate love like never before – going out of my mind, I am losing myself… I am late 40′s but look ripped and fit like a 30 year old athlete . In the gym women of all ages are checking me out and smiling and I am on the verge of just going for it no matter the consequences. Time to turn a page after quarter century? What stage is the 20 years of mono-agony?
    If you are young and getting to experience sex dying, don’t be like me! Get out…while you are young!!

  • Missy
    December 14, 2012 | Permalink |

    Vac – I understand I am 27 and have been with the same boyfriend since I was 22. Sex was never that amazing because it was inconsistent because at first he was getting off anabolic steroirds and I think his testosterone production had to neutralize. Things got better for a while but I have always felt like I was on a different chapter than him sexually. We have had lots of problems in general this past year and I broke up with him for a short while but we got back together because we had lived together the past 3 years and its basically way too much co,plication to break up and I think we both believe that there is nothing better out there. Well he says that he really loves me but I haven’t seen a lot of evidence of that in the little things that I would imagine someone would do for someone they love or are attracted to. Especially the latter. I dont know what to do. I am in law school and actually just finished my first semester and we live together so well but the sex is unfixable and I don’t know if I will ever be satisfied again or if I will give in eventually and cheat. I am so confused.

  • vac
    January 1, 2013 | Permalink |

    Missy- I feel for you and of course I have been there too. From what you say, there is no other path than downhill from there. If sexual attraction and compatibility is not there it will not come back, no matter how much you wish for it. It may appear now that after 3 years it is complicated to move on with your life but imagine how complicated and intertwined and codependent your life may become after 10,15,20 years! He may very well love you, but love comes in many forms. I was able to substitute for intimate sexual love for years but it eventually became unbearable and the unhappiness creeps into every aspect of the relationship. If you do not cheat, he will or both of you will think of nothing else and will live together like disgruntled roommates without the freedom. Your life will become stagnant. Not fun way to live. You are young and there is romantic love somewhere waiting for you! Do not settle for what you have. Get OUT now and never look back!!! You have one life and it is worth living the way you really want. I have sacrificed my happiness and life potential for 20 years and now feel completely stupid.

  • Mad Dad
    January 6, 2013 | Permalink |

    Is it okay if the stages were not in order ?

  • Ashley
    March 23, 2013 | Permalink |

    My teins dad who Ive been with for only 3 years now is starting to make me think twice. I wake up to him hollering and demanding, our lunch time co.versations just revolve around his day so far, and at night I go to sleep alone. Sex has become …. Well stagnate.. Once a week, last 5 minutes.. Nothing interestong. Im wondering if this is just a stage or should I get out before I become codependant. I just dont want to pack up all me and the kids stuff for an unsure answer. Will things get interesting again or am I just settling ?

  • Jake
    March 26, 2013 | Permalink |

    currently me and my girl are in like both 2 and 5 simultaneously… question: i let her know that i have a problem with taking jokes at my expense seriously and now we’re both trying to decide who should submit… she has kinda gone into a quiet contemplative self-loathing reserved state where she thinks she is bad for having done so and needs to stop. and as such… i’ve gone into an “i’m sorry it really shouldn’t have bothered me so please don’t worry about it, i’ll deal with it cause i know it wasn’t intentional” mode. i want her to smile again but when she gets like this she kinda retreats. :( any advice? what should i do?

  • sam
    March 26, 2013 | Permalink |

    pls help me out…we were in a relationship 1 month before..both of us were quite happy wid each..other..but suddenly she brock up wid me coz someone told her foolish thngs abt me ..tht i dont love her truly n ol also tht i m not a good guy ..i tried my level best to convience her …n make her understnd my feelings coz i madly love her..she is not tht much mature n also she is very innocent n kind hearted n bieleves in anyones words soon…she reads my msgs daily now also but she doesnt replies..wat can i do pls pls help me ..i really miss her badly…n want her back..i feel like m incomplete widout her..pls help me

  • mel
    May 1, 2013 | Permalink |

    i really need help in understanding- please help me :( sorry if this is really long.

    hi all… ive just started to google about this topic so after reading this i think i need some answers as to why my relationships with guys end so quickly…

    i just cannot understand but i started dating at the age of 18. my first relationship lasted 4 1/2 months… he and i didnt see each other so we broke things off.. (were still friends i think but we’ve been too busy that we havent seen each other in nearly 2 years…)

    my second relationship i was cheated on not even a month into the relationship and he broke things off with me… he keeps on bumping into me and it makes me feel freaked out because hes with the girl that he cheated on me with but i know that they’re not happy because hes always miserable which to me is a good thing and karma got him…

    my third relationship, i was with a guy for nearly a month and a half… at the start, we were just friends then we had a connection and it turned into a relationship, but about the month part he because pretty abusive towards me telling me not to hang out with anyone who’ll try to break me and him up (this was his first relationship ever with anyone) or talk to anyone whos a guy which he knew before the relationship that ive got more guy friends then girls because im just sick of girl drama and im a girl!) :p

    my last relationship i was in was the most heartbreak that im still going through a bit and its been 3 month since he dumped me by a text message then he went around saying nasty stuff about me which isnt true….
    this guy and i were really close since high school (early 2010- yr 12) to end of january when he dumped me…

    he and i were very happy, really crazy about me and him but the one let down was about the sex…. he couldnt… well.. to many terms “get excited” while trying for sex but he would when hes flirting with me alone… so we never slept together and it got me thinking that its me thats the problem…. he told me that hes been in love with me since high school and i told him that i was madly in love with him… so much to say that he was my first true love… tis has been the first time that im still upset about him and i even still talk about him a fair bit which ive been badly trying to not to…

    he rang me up crying on the phone saying that dumping me was the biggest mistake and then he was too upset (he was really crying too…) and he hung up… this hurt me and even made me cry…

    my problem is that i donno if i can figure out why im having so many problems trying to find a guy for me for a really long distant in time relationships (months, year/s)… i keep on getting short relationships..

    why do you girls and guys think of this situation??

  • mel
    May 1, 2013 | Permalink |

    to my last comment i forgot to say that the last guy i was with him for about 3 months…

  • janine juanico
    June 10, 2013 | Permalink |

    Im happy to say that me and my husband now are in #9 :)

  • Azilanna
    July 25, 2013 | Permalink |

    I have a boyfriend and we’re 2 years and half. Based on my assessment I would say that I think we’re in between Stage 7 and 8. I’m not thinking of the negative way but sometimes when I’m agnry I kept on saying I hate him. Duhhhh, not really true. Just because of my emotions maybe? I know we’re experiencing this kind of crisis but we’ll make it to the end. I just can’t imagine my self with another man.. He’s the one and only love. It’s nice to be in love and be loved. :)

  • Alice
    July 29, 2013 | Permalink |

    I am 20 and have been with my boyfriend also twenty for three years, we have a routine and when were not on holiday see each other every day. We split up last year About a year and a half into the relationship because he wanted to do his own thing but was still in love with me. Yesterday after coming back from holiday for two weeks with the lads he says he just wants to be on his own and is unsure if I make him happy even though he says he loves me and we was blissfully happy before he went. Even yesterday morning he was telling me he loved me and that I should cheer up. I really don’t know what to do he wants his space and I will obviously give him that but does anyone have any advice? We even have a holiday booked in September that I don’t know what to do about!

  • Lily
    October 4, 2013 | Permalink |

    What happens after stage 9? What’s next? Do you start all over again? :p no joke apart… really.. cause i think after that things may start getting boring or else just worse. Or not? i dont want to be negative :)

  • nas
    October 16, 2013 | Permalink |

    Am starting to doubt the relationship between me & my bf, firstly when he reply his calls he acts funny or else he switches off the phone or leave it in his car. sometime i was tempted to check his phone, to my surprise i got message he sent to some lady, he always delete received messages. he use save my name as ” luv”‘ but that day it was my full name & surname, like a normal person. i just feel negative about the whole thing, i think am wasting my precious time with this man. i honestly loved him but am loosing it. He is sort of player….

  • Anonymous 93
    May 31, 2014 | Permalink |

    If I were to explain love to my children when they fall in love, I would tell them quite truthfully that “love is a battlefield”, how do I know this? I am in a relationship at the moment. Not everything is perfect but I accept our imperfections. I accept our differences and so does my partner. Yes we do argue, yes we do disagree…Big deal? Not at all! I do believe that it does take “two to tango” and yes our relationship requires us to “give and take” yet it is all possible. Both my boyfriend and I love each other because we make it works and we know that we have flaws. We’ve taken into account that we cannot predict the future however we can enjoy the here and now because that is within our control. Of course it hurts when a relationship breaks but it’s important to focus on what you learnt from it, what can be done next time and who knows… Some relationships can live for a life-time so long as you can accept what went well rather than what didn’t. ?

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