When it comes to love and relationships, pleasure and pain are often two sides of the same coin. At the start of a new relationship we often see everything in a positive light and believe our partner can do no wrong, but as a relationship goes on there are plenty of situations when we ask ourselves why we have chosen this particular partner. Arguments arise and sometimes even real crises. Over time, different phases usually emerge in a good relationship – phases that we all have to go through if we are really interested in a long distance relationship. There will be good times, but also more difficult times. Every good relationship goes through these different phases at some point – some of them more intense, others less so.
The phases of a relationship
- We are so in love ❥
- The perfect relationship – even without rose-tinted glasses?
- Adapting to one another
- Is it for ever?
- Making a commitment ❥
The first phase in a new relationship: We are so in love ❥
New, loved-up couples can usually be spotted a mile off: They flash each other smitten smiles, whisper sweet nothings, exchange amorous glances, and can barely keep their hands off each other. Although it can often be difficult for those around them to stomach, for the loved-up couple this is a particularly intense period. During this time, the chosen partner is perfect and has no flaws or faults. The couple both see things through rose-tinted glasses and can imagine everything together. This is primarily due to the hormones that affect us during the initial infatuation. In this first phase of being in love, particularly high levels of dopamine – one of our “happy hormones” – are released. On the other hand, serotonin levels are particularly low during this period – similar to people with obsessive compulsive disorder. Couples in love are lovesick, so to speak, and their thoughts are almost completely dominated by their chosen partner. When you are falling in love, it is therefore extremely difficult to think of anything other than your new partner.
The second phase in a relationship: The perfect relationship – even without rose-tinted glasses?
Some couples move on to this phase earlier, some later. The initial infatuation phase, the first of the five phases in a good relationship, can ultimately last for between three and 18 months. Once couples have reached the stage where hormones no longer influence their thinking and behavior, in many cases this spells the end of the relationship. All of a sudden, flaws, shortcomings, and idiosyncrasies become apparent which had previously gone unnoticed. In this phase, many people also try to figure out if the partner they have chosen is really a good match. Do we have the same attitudes? Do we have the same plans for the future? Most couples also have their first discussions and arguments in this second phase of the relationship. It is only once the couple is able to work through these differences, and a vision of a possible future together gradually takes shape, that this initial feeling of being in love can develop into love and the relationship is cemented.
The third phase in a good relationship: Adapting to one another
The fact that your partner is human, with their own flaws and imperfections, is a realization that already dawned in the second phase. But learning to adapt to one another and getting to know each other better takes longer. A couple will spend more and more time together, perhaps going away on holiday together for the first time, and maybe even moving in together – providing plenty of potential sources of friction. During this phase, couples often become annoyed by little things that their partner may be completely unaware of. The important thing at this point is how you deal with the fact that your partner has habits you don’t really like. Many people try to train their partners and break these habits, but that’s a bad idea. Instead, you should accept your partner just the way he or she is. You have your own flaws and idiosyncrasies that your partner has to deal with, too: nobody is perfect, and there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship, either.
The fourth phase in a relationship: Is it for ever?
After a few years in a good relationship, you know each other well, you know the other person’s shortcomings and also what it is like to live together, go on holiday together, and spend a lot of time together. Many people in this fourth phase in their relationship reflect on how the relationship has been up to this point. Is this how I envisage the rest of my life? People also start to put their own interests first again, questioning whether the relationship is good for them. Some people even have so many doubts that they end the relationship at this stage. People often talk of the seven-year itch, when many couples break up. Every relationship goes through this phase of doubts at a different time, however, and it is not always after seven years. That said, this fourth phase in a relationship is often the point when many people begin to have doubts. However, it is important to remember at this stage that you will go through this phase with any other partner you have, too.
The fifth phase in a good relationship: Making a commitment ❥
Anyone who has survived phase four is sure of their own relationship and also of their partner. Despite the fact that your partner cannot meet all your expectations, in this phase you know that life is better with your partner and that you want the relationship to last. You have already experienced a great deal together, you have dealt with life’s highs and lows, you trust one another completely, and you give each other the freedom you need. From this phase onward, being in a good relationship with one another yet being able to function independently as your own person is a matter of course. Even so, committing to one another long-term also means continuing to invest in the relationship and working both on yourself and on your relationship – throughout this phase and beyond.
There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. Love means constant self-improvement, compromise, and accepting your partner with all their flaws and idiosyncrasies ❥