As unique as they can seem, relationships tend to have a somewhat predictable progression over time. Dr. Susan Campbell narrowed the average relationship timeline into different stages. We’ve put together a summary of each stage, as well as some crucial advice that will help you move forward through the stages – without getting stuck!
For those in the Romance Stage: Keep perspective
This is the stage we often see in movies and television – the rose-colored glasses phase. We get so caught up in spending time with our new partners that we begin to lose touch with ourselves. If you’re currently in this stage, keep perspective. Even if you’ve found your soulmate, you need to keep your life ticking along. Keeping up with work, friendships, and alone-time will make the relationship more harmonious.
For those in the Power Struggle Stage: Practice radical acceptance
This is when things start to get real – where we actually consider whether our partner is right for us. During this stage, most couples go one or two ways. Break up and start again or survive the Power Struggle Stage by practicing radical acceptance. When you accept that your partner isn’t perfect, and vice versa, you will come out stronger and happier than you were before.
For those in the Stability Stage: Keep it fresh
If you’ve gotten through the tumultuous acceptance phase, you might be familiar with the Stability Stage – a calm period in your relationship where you’ve learned to fully accept one another. To power through this stage, you and your partner need to keep it fresh. While it’s important to enjoy a return to stability, you should change things up from time to time. Relationships thrive on change, so book a dance class, try a new restaurant, or watch a movie you’ve never seen before.
For those in the Commitment Stage: Avoid complacency
This stage doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with marriage or having children – rather, it is the stage where couples realized it’s worth staying together. They know how to manage conflict, practice mutual respect, communicate effectively, and can make a full commitment to the other person regardless of their imperfections. Relationship experts say this is when couples should get married, but to truly thrive in this relationship, you need to avoid complacency. Have frequent “check-ins” with your partner on how you’re both doing in the relationship. It will leave you two feeling satisfied and content.