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Stages of a relationship in psychology : The 3 phases of a relationship

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Stages of a relationship in psychology : The 3 phases of a relationship

There are different stages that occur throughout a relationship, and it’s interesting to take a look at what psychology has to teach us about them. It’s normal to go through phases of euphoria, then to be more down to earth, to ask yourself some questions, to become a little more independent from each other, to experience difficult moments when one feels rejected while the other demands more freedom, when one has the feeling of loving more than the other and vice versa… All these feelings, these stages are common to all couples. Let’s take a look at the 3 stages of a relationship.

Stages of a relationship : The 3 phases of a relationship

Stage 1: Passion

In the popular sense, as we understand it most easily, passion is synonymous with a strong affection or even admiration, and is also synonymous with “intense love”. Passion is “a very strong emotion that can go against reason”. Philosophy has also been interested in the concept. It goes beyond the common connotations associated as we have just seen with love, with romance and which are automatically linked to a feeling of joy. “The philosophical notion, in contrast, is identified by biologically perceived emotional states such as anger, lust or others of the seven deadly sins. In the modern sense, passion is an exclusive inclination towards an object, a lasting and violent affective state in which a psychological imbalance occurs (the object of passion occupies the mind excessively).” Eventually, both views are linked.

The passional phase (or fusional) corresponds to the beginning, it is found between the phase of seduction and the phase of opposition.

Read also : Differences between love and passion

The feeling of well-being

A feeling of well-being invades both lovers and everything is embellished, everyday problems lose their importance, love is enough. You know this phase well : you can lie in bed for a whole weekend looking at your partner in a corny way, smiling stupidly, watching dumb movies without even listening. Yes, I’m talking about the phase where you can have sex five times a day, never getting tired of your bodies and always ask for more. The phase when you wake up with sparkles in the eyes as you discover the other is still asleep. The phase when there isn’t really a story between two beings but where lovers are totally blinded by the factitious perfection of their partner.

You both seem to perfectly match the other’s expectations, you don’t yet realize you have points of divergence, only the points you have in common awaken your attention and seem extraordinary: “You also like to take baths? It’s crazy how alike we are! ” Every detail is an excuse to prove to each other how much you have in common.

Bursting in tears when the other isn’t there

This phase can sometimes give rise to some serious crying because of a feeling of void, absence and abandonment. The feeling of love does exist, but not actual Love. And this feeling is so strong that when your half is far from you, you feel unhappy and sad in a way sometimes unknown to you, as if a part of yourself had been torn off.

In short, this is a phase where hearts intertwine and no questions are asked. Who needs questions when you’re happy?

But this phase can’t last indefinitely…

Stage 2: Opposition

Unfortunately, human beings have a natural tendency to get bored, an appeal for contradiction and an ability to rationalize too much. The opposition phase is often a very bad experience for one or the other of both partners.

I’ll explain: after a while, the fusion phase fades (1 year / 2 years / 3 years or more, depending on the context : if you live together, if it’s a long distance relationship…) and one of the two lovers starts taking a step back from his couple. He collides with the other, doesn’t nod at every sentence, no longer agrees, and points out the other’s key divergences and defects that had so far remained in the shadows .

The questions you ask yourself

This phase is often associated with disillusionment. You’re under the impression of having been lied to about the goods, if you will. And it’s often at this moment that many couples break up. The first REAL fights arise, you don’t understand each other anymore, or at least you have the impression that the other can no longer understand you, it’s a phase of frustration and doubt :

–          Why did he love me so much before?

–          He’d rather see his friends than staying with me tonight… Is he having an affair?

–          What happened? We were madly in love, we used to never get bored, even when we had nothing to do.

–          He says I never do the dishes, but he never hangs up the laundry. The nerve of him. Humm he has changed so much, I don’t recognize him anymore. 

–          And what if I was better with that guy who just ordered a glass of red?

–          And what if I too went out with my friends, I want to feel attractive.

–          Do I still love him?

(…) I think you got the idea.

The real problem with this phase is that it’s often badly experienced by one or the other. If both partners accepted this phase, their story would continue normally. Only, most of the time, the woman (yes it’s often the woman!) is still in the passion phase when the man enters opposition. Nostalgia takes over the feminine spirit and she never stops remembering the fusional phase which she loved so much…

A phase when communication is essential but you’re often at a loss for words…

Stage 3 : Independence

In time, you realize with reason that the other is different but that it’s perhaps that difference that made you fall for him/her in the first place. Both partners react in their own way to this awareness. It can be acceptance (more or less happily), just tagging along, or trying in vain to change your partner.

When both partners have found balance and happiness without having an overwhelming need for exclusivity, they will then enter the independence phase and will want to take care of themselves again. It’s the time of personal development. The man will start working out again and the woman will develop her creativity through cooking classes (HUMOR). Each in his own way will rediscover activities he had abandoned, as blinded as he/she was by the other.

Read also :  10 Signs That He’s Not The Right One For You

You often tend to forget yourself in your relationship, and this phase is important to find balance in life. But despite its necessity, you should not linger for too long in this phase because it can also have secondary effects : to pull you away from the other.


What I call “happiness” is none other than this moment when you will have really found a balance between love, friends, work, activities, family… You will love each other but will not need the other as in the passion phase. You will be independent but will realize that you can’t live without your other half. You will be fine. Just fine.

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