The way we relate to our parents, friends, and, yes, our romantic partners, move through distinct stages as our bonds form. Why is it then that the stages of a romantic relationship are dicier to pick apart? While it's true that every relationship cycles through different phases, exactly what they entail and how long they last differ from couple to couple.
When is it best for couples to start getting serious? Does the honeymoon phase really exist, or does falling out of the honeymoon phase mean falling out of love? We asked two dating experts for their take on the most common stages of a relationship: Bela Gandhi, founder of Smart Dating Academy , and Nora Dekeyser, matchmaker for Three Day Rule. Both women had similar takes on what couples can expect.
Keep reading to learn about the five stages nearly every couple will experience, according to two dating experts. Saddling up the courage to even approach the other person, drafting up clever texts—while exciting, the very first steps of a potential relationship include the biggest challenges of all. The first date can be difficult, too, something that Dekeyser says is an inevitable first stage in dating: Chris has been in a relationship with Kara for the past year.
While the first 6 months were great, it seems lately that things are beginning to slide. The sex life has taken a downturn, it feels like they talk past each other at times, her moodiness is irritating him more, and she is complaining about the weekends he sometimes needs to work for his job. Just as marriages move through stages, so too do dating relationships. By mapping out the stages you can know what to expect and anticipate the challenges ahead.
Oxytocin or bust This is where Tasha is at. Affection is easy, sex, if you go there, is great. Dangers One obvious danger or downside is that you never get beyond one or two dates. You find you have a lot in common but her personality reminds you too much of your ex. But the bigger danger is that it does all click and both are so caught up in the greatness of it all that neither one wants to rock the boat and spoil the magic.
You bite your tongue and by the time the next weekend rolls around your irritation has receded. Challenges If the chemistry isn't there, there isn't much to do except perhaps give it one more try and see if something clicks. And if you have been biting your tongue and fearful of rocking the boat, your challenge is to resist the temptation. The issue isn't about chewing and food, but about bringing honesty and realness into the relationship from the start so the person gets a true sense of who you really are and what is important to you.
Unsettled settling As Chris has noticed the landscape has changed. Sex is down, irritation is up. Routines set in, the hot chemistry is okay, but less hot. But with this is also a relaxing of that walking-on-eggshells behavior. Here is where what each person is particularly sensitive to — criticism, control, lack of appreciation, not getting enough attention — begins to stir: Chris starts to feel micromanaged, or Kara feels abandoned and is increasingly resentful of his working weekends.
Here is where couples can begin to argue about who is more hurt, who is too sensitive, arguments that can seem endless or destructive. But wait there's more -- literally more life.
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