Alexa Gelles

Relationship Counselling

From Honeymoon to Lasting Love: The 5 Stages of a Relationship

June 19, 2024

The Counsellor Behind The Blog
Hey, I’m Alexa! I’m a Registered Clinical Counsellor based in Vancouver, B.C. I’ve curated this blog specifically for you to answer your most pressing questions about counselling and building healthy relationships.

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When people first fall in love, everything feels magical and perfect. That is until the honeymoon stage ends and couples move onto the next stages of the relationship, which can be more challenging. Relationships evolve over time, moving through different stages. Understanding these stages can help couples build a lasting, loving relationship.

1. The Honeymoon Stage

At the start of a relationship, everything feels dreamy. It’s common to become absorbed and want to focus all your time and attention on your new person. Couples focus on their similarities and feel a deep, unconditional love. This phase, often called the honeymoon stage, usually lasts from 6 months to 2 years. During this time, couples try to keep this perfect feeling, but it can be challenging as real life starts to set in.

2. The Power Struggle Stage

As the honeymoon phase fades, couples start to see each other’s flaws. This can lead to disappointment when a partner doesn’t meet all emotional, sexual, or intimate needs. Sometimes, people try to change their partner or look for someone else to fulfill these needs. This stage is about realizing that your partner isn’t perfect and learning to handle conflicts and differences in a healthy way.

Ideally, couples learn to manage and accept each other’s differences in this stage. This means letting go of expectations and improving skills like communication, resolving disagreements, and finding compromises. Successfully navigating this stage can make the relationship stronger as couples learn to handle conflicts well and support each other’s personal growth.

3. The Exploration Stage

During the exploration stage, partners start to rediscover their own identities. They balance personal interests with the relationship. If couples didn’t differentiate, or work through differences effectively during the previous stage, this stage can be tough, especially if one person starts exploring before the other. It’s important to support each other’s uniqueness and maintain boundaries so partners don’t lose themselves in the relationship while still nurturing their connection as a couple.

4. The Re-Connection Stage

After rediscovering their own identities, couples come back together with a stronger sense of self. They learn to manage differences without resorting to conflict or sacrificing their boundaries. This stage involves improved understanding and deeper intimacy. Couples find a balance between being together and maintaining their individuality.

5. The Commitment Stage

In the lasting love stage, couples achieve a deeper connection than in the earlier stages. They communicate clearly and respect each other’s values and beliefs. The relationship feels vibrant and fulfilling, often involving shared activities or projects. Additionally, couples often feel a desire to contribute to their community and spread their love.

Challenges and Common Issues

Throughout these stages, couples may face various challenges. Relationship issues such as trust and attachment problems can impact their dynamic and make it difficult to manage differences effectively. This may require inner or couples work to successfully navigate these stages and prevent the relationship getting stuck.

The Role of Coaching versus Therapy

Coaching is great for couples in the early stages, like the honeymoon phase and the power struggle. It focuses on improving how couples communicate, handle conflicts, and negotiate. Coaching also helps couples adjust their expectations and learn to manage differences right from the start.

Therapy, on the other hand, is better for couples who skip the honeymoon phase due to lots of conflict or outside pressures. It’s also good for couples in later stages of their relationship dealing with deeper issues that need more than just learning new skills. Therapists can figure out where the couple is at, create plans to improve their relationship, and teach them important skills. Therapy also helps manage feelings and anxiety, so couples can avoid upsetting each other and build better habits.

Relationships go through many stages, from the exciting honeymoon phase to deep, lasting love. Each stage is important for building a strong, healthy relationship. Embracing this journey and seeking help when needed can lead to a fulfilling and lasting partnership.

To help you navigate these stages, check out Built to Last, a 9-week program designed to build a lasting relationship you can enjoy for decades to come.

Q's to Map Out Your

💛 Clarify your ideal vision for your relationship to make it a reality.
💛 Address important topics directly to find common ground.
💛 Get aligned on big picture items, like starting a family, to feel ready and excited for the next steps.

This complete checklist will help you start mapping out your real-life fairytale relationship so you can...

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