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9 Relationship Stages That All Couples Go Through

9 Relationship Stages That All Couples Go Through

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

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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Elizabeth Arthur
Elizabeth Arthur
A mom of two who’s currently working on a novel, Elizabeth Arthur lives in Cornwall. And when she’s not chasing her boys around the house, she enjoys sittin...
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41 thoughts on “9 Relationship Stages That All Couples Go Through”

  1. Megan says:

    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….

  2. sammy says:

    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

  3. Lidia says:

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

  4. sefora teshome says:

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

  5. dave says:

    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.

  6. Rubal says:

    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?

  7. Vanessa says:

    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. πŸ™

  8. vac says:

    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!!

  9. Missy says:

    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.

  10. vac says:

    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.

  11. Mad Dad says:

    Is it okay if the stages were not in order ?

  12. Ashley says:

    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 ?

  13. Jake says:

    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. πŸ™ any advice? what should i do?

  14. sam says:

    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

  15. mel says:

    i really need help in understanding- please help me πŸ™ 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??

  16. mel says:

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

  17. janine juanico says:

    Im happy to say that me and my husband now are in #9 πŸ™‚

  18. Azilanna says:

    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. πŸ™‚

  19. Alice says:

    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!

  20. Lily says:

    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 πŸ™‚

  21. nas says:

    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….

  22. Anonymous 93 says:

    If I were to explain love to my children when they fall in love, I would tell them quite truthfully that

  23. Melissa says:

    Hi. I hope someone will take the time to give me some advice . I have been dating my current boyfriend since the 10th grade of highschool. We are now living together and have been dating for 3 and 1/2 years. He was my first love, he took my virginity, and he has always been there for me. However, lately i feel like we have lost the spark. Well it started out like that. Now iwe have sex NEVER. He gets mad at me because i dont wanna have sex with him but i cant help it. I love him more than anything in the world but im just not sexually attracted to him anymore. He cant turn me on anymore. I fantasize about being with someone else and how great it would be. But then i think to myself what if its just me being stupid. What if it was a mistake to give up this guy who i swore would be the one and only for my whole life. I forget what it feels like to want sex. I am 19. I feel like i should still want to be sexual with my partner. But i have no desire to. He is my safe zone. We live together and he is always there for me. We do everything together. I wonder if my heart wants to leave but part of me feels like he is a safe place to land. And he is my securitty blanket so i could never leave him. Help! I dont know what to do. Its so hard. Sad and frustrating.

  24. Mr loved up says:

    Hi all insecure people,

    You should talk about your problems to partner instead of moaning on forums

    As I have passed stage 9 and I am very happy. I’ve been together with my gf for over 6 months and I am very and happy

  25. caitlin says:

    Okay so here is what is going on with me and this guy I love
    We work together, we see each other daily. We have gone out and have a great time. He does have a daughter, I don’t mind, but his ex is always butting In he still loves his ex because of their daughter.wich I understand, we both told each other about our fellings so here we ‘re all the signs are there the physical attractions and hints are plain as day, but he can’t seem to move forward just yet. What do I do? I wanna be with him he wants the same but?

  26. Emily says:

    I have been going out with my boyfriend for nearly 6 months. I swear we were in the 9th stage by about 2 months. I feel like I can tell him anything and he can do they same. I know I’m only 16 years old, but despite the age, I really think that I am going to marry this boy. He is my first boyfriend. He’s also my best friend.

  27. Nina says:

    Im on stage 5. Its getting hard. Im so happy that we both had made it strong and kinda intact from stage 4. Im happy to see the hardest part is basically almost over for a while. I been dating him for 10 months coming up on 11. Just to let you guys know. Stay strong and you will make it through stage four. πŸ˜€ Good luck.

  28. DistressedV says:

    I have been with my partner for nearly 10 years (childhood sweethearts). We have been through many phases. But currently he is very career focused where As I want to do lots of other things. He doesn’t even like hanging out with friends, doing things we earlier enjoyed, travelling. He also seems really stressed in trying to make it in life. And takes it out on me by making me feel guilty for having fun in life or going out my way of life. He gets very abusive and manipulative wants me to distance myself from friends etc. I have not seen this side of him before. I am very distressed. We seem to make up after though as we both love each other and forgive each other. It’s just happening far too often. I am so confused. I don’t wanna give up. Please help.

  29. Teshi says:

    My comment goes to Mel. You v to take it slow. Stop dating 4 a while, go back to ur drawing board, write out d kind of Guy u want. Then whenever u met anyone, b4 u accept him, access him, if he doesn’t met d drown criteria, don’t accept him. Note, u can’t change anybody. More so a guy. I hope this will help you.

  30. Jonathon says:

    My stages were more like: infatuation, understanding, brain surgery, panic, acceptance, brain surgery, panic, acceptance, disturbance, moulding stage, happy stage, brain surgery, panic, acceptance, moulding..and that’s where we are now. Though we completely trust each other. So this list isn’t the only way it happens…

  31. nate says:

    so… not too long ago I was dating this girl, her and I where together for 3 months and we broke up because I kept asking/accusing her of cheating on me even though I knew inside she wasnt, but the reason was because all of my ex’s did besides her. I guess I only said it because I’m scared of a long term relationship because I don’t want to get hurt again. so my question is.what should I say to her so o can tell her I still love her because I don’t know what to do. and I don’t even know if she has a boyfriend. so will someone please help me figure out what to do?

  32. Sandy says:

    Me and my boyfriend of 2 and a half years are in stage 5. Its been so hard but i can honestly say we are merging into stage 6. We have been trying really hard to balance everything out from our wants and needs, to money and time. Especially trying to “fix” things about one another. Like this article says, its tough because we push a little too hard sometimes but i do see progress. We are finally getting past it and not because we are being forced by eachother, but because we are finally agreeing. Its worth it though, to anyone in this situation. It will pass, if the love and desire to work it out is there it will all fall into place. I love my boyfriend and he loves me. And thankfully, thats been our drive and it worked.

  33. Michael says:

    @nate: I empathize with you. It’s an insecurity. In my experience, it came to a point where I lost some relationships due to some patterns of insecurity and simply out of self-honesty, I decided to work on the insecurities with a counselor. I gotta say: it was totally worth it. I’m not saying I don’t have insecurities at all anymore, but their effect on me has become greatly reduced (and in my case, no meds were necessary or anything like that, only the resolve to self-improve and the investment of time and effort).

    The other thing is this: ultimately relationships hinge on mutual trust. You’re essentially going to need to trust her (as an individual in her own right and not as a psychological extension of previous relationship experiences), and she’s going to need to trust you. Thing is, there’s this alarm bell giving you false alarms and making you distrust her, and doing that makes it hard for her to feel that she can trust you to be accepting of her. It’s a relational poison. I’m not saying you need to freak out and panic but try to be aware when the insecurities begin to surface and what triggers them. A lot of times, the trigger isn’t the obvious thing but something buried deep from something long ago. The mind is complex. But ask yourself if in the present moment you have concrete facts to support the fear, and if you don’t, then accept the fact that you’re feeling crappy about it as a fact in its own right, but avoid making it her problem by allowing the feelings to take over your will and actions. If she’s not cheating on you, it’s going to sting her deeply, and you don’t want to do that to someone you love!

    Lastly, if she’s someone who genuinely loves you (and I mean “love” in the true sense of the word, not just fuzzy feelings but that she genuinely cares about your well-being and wills your good), perhaps you might consider sitting down together sometime and just have an open discussion about the fact you have these insecurities. Tell her you have them, that you don’t like having them, that they’re not her fault, that you’re sorry they have sometimes manifested themselves toward her, and that you want to find someone who can help you iron out those wrinkles so you can love her better. Seriously, if she loves you and hears you bare your vulnerabilities in a sincere and honest way, she will support you through it. If she’s shallow, immature, or not into the relationship enough to want to put in the effort to walk with you through your working on it, then this issue will probably be one of many down the road. The key is that you’re owning the problem (honesty/accountability), that you aren’t blaming her for the problem (sincerity/love/mercy), and that because she is important to you, you’re willing to make a plan and take concrete steps to improve (love/responsibility).

    Couldn’t hurt, right? If she doesn’t get it and the relationship ends up floundering as a result, all is not lost. Do the work anyway. The next woman will have the benefit of a man who has changed for the better.

  34. Anonymous 5720 says:

    To be honest, it sounds like you’re using him, but still have the moral standing to not cheat on him. At this point, considering your age, it would probably be to both of your benefits to either talk to him about what you want in the bedroom that he’s not doing, or if it’s variety, just break things off before you destroy him emotionally.

  35. Anonymous 5720 says:

    I would highly doubt that this is a scientific article. Most relationships have these stages, and none of mine, nor friends of mine have ever gone through these stages in order, so I wouldn’t worry and check out some the links and then contrast and compare this one with the other links and see where you are.

  36. Simple_siloque says:

    This article is not based on fact. I’ve had many relationships and they each vary so much, within many of the relationships, I did not experience several of these “steps” … for example, the “infatuation” phase or the “happy phase”. It’s ridiculous to think relationships are like linear mathematical equations … they are completely messy, creative, intuitive works of art. And people can be in a relationship for years at a time and all of a sudden experience something they have never experienced in any other past relationship.

  37. Consuela Mendoza says:

    wow. 2 years in and we’re still in stage 2

  38. nate says:

    if you love him sex shouldnt matter and dont cheat, do you love him back. be sounds wonderful.

  39. camilia says:

    MONTHS and i feel like everything so quick its the fastest feel like im in stage 5

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