by Zara Mohammed, Relationships Columnist
Published in Relationships on 3rd September, 2018
Understanding how your feelings develop can help you to feel more confident as you grow with your partner. There are 5 stages of intimacy that usually occur in any romantic relationship, and you will experience different kinds of emotions at each of these stages which prepare you mentally to develop your bond further and deeper with your partner, taking your relationship to different levels.
The 5 stages of intimacy are:
In this article we will explore what each stages involves so that you can understand your experiences better and make the most of them in order to improve your relationship.
The Romantic Phase is also known as the Infatuation Phase. This always occurs when you meet someone you really fancy and everything about them seems to be positively perfect. You get that giddy feeling when you see them, when you talk to them and even when you think about them. You might feel like you are living in a fairy tale and that you have found the father of your future children, or you might be having the best sex of your life and don't think you will ever meet anyone again who can get you feeling this high.
Most of these feelings of course are down to your hormones. If you feel like you are acting out of character, maybe checking your phone every second of the day, or overreacting at small things, it's probably just because your emotions are all over the place and your hormones are playing havoc with your logic. Your dopamine levels are literally soaring right now, which is why you are feeling so sexually attracted to your partner. It is also why you are craving them, because similar to taking a drug, being around them is making your body and mind feel really good.
How to Make the Most of The Romantic Phase
This is such an awesome stage in your relationship, but just keep in mind that it's not going to last, and that what you are feeling right now is a heightened version of the feelings you will develop for each other in the long term. It is a good thing that this stage is just temporary because being infatuated with someone else means you are focussing less on you, which is not a healthy or balanced way to live your life. Be easy on yourself and your partner when you have your ups and downs, and make sure that you value the stable and supportive advice of your friends and your family, because they can see your relationship a little clearer than you can at the moment.
As you begin to journey out of stage one and into stage two of your relationship it can be a confusing and often painful time for many couples. This is because the illusions that your feelings have created about your partner and about your relationship are beginning to fall away and the reality of your situation is being revealed. It can be difficult to face up to and accept something that perhaps you don't think you signed up for to begin with. Many relationships can fail during The Power Struggle Phase.
This is the time when you start noticing and focussing on your partner's flaws, and they take over your feelings so that it becomes way too easy to forget what made you fall for your partner in the first place. Many people try to deal with this stage in one of two ways, they may try to change a partner back to what they thought they were previously, or they may punish them for not being what they thought they were. This punishment often comes in the form of one person in the relationship withdrawing, which in turn makes the other person become needy and fall into a chasing role.
How to Get the Best Out of Your Relationship in the Power Struggle Phase
If you genuinely care about your partner and want to make your relationship work then you are half way towards getting the best out of your relationship at this stage. You have to keep it real, be honest with yourself and open with your partner about how you are feeling. It is vital that you both open up to each other and communicate properly, because this is the only way you will be able to grow together, and ultimately learn more about each other. This will lead to you developing a much more genuine bond, and that is what will take you into the next stage in your relationship. Don't be afraid to get some outside help at this stage. Talking to friends and family, or even a professional relationship councillor can really help you both to grow together. Just be careful about who you turn to for advice, and make sure that they have both of your best interests at heart.
Congratulations - You made it into The Stability Phase of your relationship! Doesn't it feel good? Now you get to re-experience all of those awesome giddy feelings you enjoyed during the first stage of your relationship, only on a much deeper and more connected and real level. You are learning to accept each other's flaws because you know each other better now. You are able to disagree with each other and resolve your issues in a way that means that you can both win. You are on equal emotional footing in your relationship and you are stronger than ever before.
This stage can only be reached if both of you are your own person within the relationship. You are two individuals that come together, both respecting each other's differences and boundaries. It is truly a beautiful thing. But you have to maintain your relationship at this stage otherwise you risk falling easily back into The Power Struggle Phase again. Many people find that they seesaw back and forth.
How to Maintain Your Relationship at The Stability Stage
If you find yourself feeling happy and settled in this comfortable relationship phase - beware! Sometimes when things seem too easy and good to be true, they usually are. You may find yourselves feeling too comfortable with each other, so much so that you could be falling into a rut without realising it. If you become too attached to the peace that The Stability Phase provides, you could get stuck here. You might not think that sounds too awful, but the truth is that relationships that get stuck here risk becoming stagnant and dull. You both need to feel challenged and stimulated in your relationship in order to feel fulfilled and satisfied. You need to continue to grow together, and growth requires new experiences, change, and being taken out of your comfort zone.
This is a wonderfully harmonious stage in your relationship. You can both be yourselves. You both realise that you are only human and therefore accept your relationship's shortcomings. You are together because you want to be, and because the relationship enriches your individual experiences of life, rather than because either of you need each other in order to be happy or feel safe. You want and choose to be together, knowing all of the good and all of the bad. Committing to share your lives with each other provides you both with more opportunities, fun and a sense of belonging. It can't get any better than this.
Or can it? The biggest mistake you can make at this stage in your relationship is to think that all of your work is done.
How to Take The Commitment Phase to the Next Level
Now that you have worked hard and formed a strong foundation for your relationship it is time to face the world together as an unstoppable couple. As an individual you are capable of great things, but imagine what you can achieve together! Out of all the stages of intimacy in a relationship this is the only stage where you are both mentally and emotionally prepared for marriage. Many people get married during the other phases in their relationships, which can put extra pressure on a marriage, making it less likely to work. But at this stage in your relationship you are mature enough as a couple to make this kind of commitment.
You have been through it all with your partner now and your relationship has been tested to its limits, but you have both come through and your relationship is the strongest it can be. You have reached The Bliss Stage - and guess what? You are ready for co-creation. Yep, that means you can now have babies safe in the knowledge that your relationship is equipped with what it needs to provide your family with the love and support it needs in order to help you stay together, be happy and teach your kiddies everything they need to know about love, life and happiness.
Of course you may have reached this stage and you both have decided that having children isn't for you, which is fine too. It doesn't mean that you have come all of this way for nothing. Many couples that don't want to create a family together use this final stage in their relationship to achieve great things that help to enrich their lives together. Such things might include creative projects, humanitarian work, helping friends and family, building a business together, travelling and experiencing the world together.
Relationships are not always a linear process, and just because you have gone through all of the stages and reached the beautiful end, it doesn't mean that you won't find yourself back in a previous stage in your relationship. You may even come to the end of your current relationship cycle and feel it is the right time to close one door and open up a new one. Don't be afraid of moving back and forth in your relationship or drawing a line under a current relationship and seeking something new. Any and every experience you have has a purpose in your life, and that is to help you grow as a person and give back more to the world and people around you.