Stages of a Relationship
- Attraction: You are attracted to a person for some reason and want to know them better. It could be someone who “looks good” to you; someone you’ve talked to a few times; someone who appeals to you emotionally or for some other, unexplainable reason.
- The first step: You take the risk of suggesting you do something together- have coffee, go to a lecture or concert together, etc.
- Getting to know one another: You start spending more time together. If it’s working so far, you both risk being more vulnerable by disclosing things about yourselves to each other. This stage tests the relationship and builds (or ends) feelings of trust in one another.
- Conflict: Sooner or later, differences arise. It may not seem like it at the time, but conflict is an opportunity. The relationship can stop and stay at this level, die, or grow deeper. The opportunity is that you have a chance to share fully and honestly the conflict you are feeling.
- Working it out: If you resolve the conflict, the relationship grows stronger.
You realize you can get through the rough spots. You develop a deeper sense of trust and confidence in each other. If you don’t resolve the conflict, the relationship might end, or the conflict will just remain as a “sticking point.”
- Deepening the relationship: If the conflict is resolved, the relationship moves to deeper levels of caring. You have increased trust, affection, delight and pleasure in each other’s company.
These stages are common to relationships: those between good friends, siblings, parents and children, students and mentors, and intimate couples. Each stage will be repeated over and over during the relationship. Each stage can be a decision point: Do you continue this relationship or end it? Each time you choose to work through the stages in a positive way, the relationship deepens and the commitment between you is strengthened.