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Stages of a Healthy Relationship

November 9, 2008
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Many people often wonder what is healthy when it comes to their relationships with each other. We often ask ourselves questions like these: Is it okay to be thinking about him or her non-stop? We got into a nasty fight – are we doomed? Are we going to lose all interest in each other after 5 years of being together? Before you panic after a fight or worry that you will lose the sparkles in your eyes, remember that most relationships go through stages. The stages of a healthy relationship will naturally have its high points and low points – each stage brings you closer to each other and helps build a stronger relationship with your partner.

Here are 5 Stages of a Healthy Relationship:

1. Romance Stage: This is the part where you’ve first just met. Everything is at a whirlwind, you think about the other person constantly, you want to be with each other, you’re trying to look your best for each other. Birds are chirping, the world looks sunny, life is WONDERFUL! It’s a fun and flirty stage, and things aren’t too serious yet. These are signs that your relationship is beginning on a healthy note.

However, If you’ve only been with someone for a couple of dates and you don’t feel any magic or intrigue or you’ve already encountered some major concerns or issues – there’s a good chance it will not progress well into the next stages of a healthy relationship, so you may want to reconsider beginning one before things get too complicated.

2. The Steady Stage: This is the stage that most couples hit between knowing each other 2 and 6 months and can last anywhere for a few months to a few years. They’ve each other’s friends and families. They’ve begun to delve deep into knowing each other and they like spending time together. One of them may even decide to finally admit that they’re falling crazy in love with the other person. All normal in the steady stage. There may be a few misunderstandings or disagreements, but most are minor and usually forgiven in a short period of time. Physical intimacy usually is heightened in this stage. Commitment is this stage is very strong – you’re not dating anyone else, and couples usually get engaged/married in the steady stage while things are going good.

In this stage, you’ll have a pretty good understanding of what you can expect in the future – but most relationships at this point will not be at a level of complete mature love. If during the steady stage you see problems, there’s a good chance you won’t survive the next stage below.

3. The Conflict Stage: When two people are together on end for any period of time, eventually conflict will arise out of things that were acceptable or okay before. Maybe you’ve moved in with each other, but now one partner is taking on more responsibility than the other. Maybe in this stage outside influences such as health, family, or financial pressure will take its toll. There will be some points when you argue or your partner begins doing things that aggravate you more and more. Resentment may build up, or past issues that were ignored in the previous stages now start to come to a boil.

In the conflict stage, a healthy relationship will continue and find solutions to work through these problems. The couple will still communicate and if problems continue will seek professional help. But many relationships will break down at this stage – communication comes to a halt, intimacy comes to a halt, people find themselves feeling hurt, and sometimes the relationship will end. This stage can last for several months or several years before the couple finally finds a way to move on – together or not.

4. Unconditional Love Stage: This is the stage after you’ve gone through the conflict stage and know ways of working with each other even if you do not always disagree. At this point most relationships are at their healthiest – both partners have completely accepted each other’s flaws, there is complete trust in the relationship, and when there are problems they are dealt with maturely and mutually. You are completely comfortable with each other , best friends, and know that no matter what happens you can make it through and still love one another. Almost all healthy relationships will make it to this stage, unless they’ve neglected the final stage detailed below.

5. Water-It Stage: Like plants, relationships need some sunlight and water to continue to grow and thrive. You’ve also got to put some effort into keeping the unconditional stage going. If you stop showing your partner intimacy or couples begin to get caught up in other issues outside of their relationship, its possible that the relationship could regress back into the conflict stage. Couples can keep the unconditional love going strong if they continue to nurture their relationship and give it the attention it needs.

As you can see, the stages of a healthy relationship have its ups and downs. The biggest difference between healthy relationships and unhealthy relationships is each partner’s willingness to work through everything and showing each other mutual love, respect, and understanding. Unhealthy relationships rarely make it through these stages, as problems such as trust, resentment, jealousy and other issues take more precedence over the caring feelings towards one another.

Have any thoughts on the stages of a healthy relationship? Share them in the comments below!

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