A brand-new relationship is the source of immense joy. Along with anxiety, resurfaced insecurities, occasional jealousy, and disappointment. Most people embrace the joy and make the most of it… But those other feelings? They’re always received with shock and annoyance. Literally, no one saw them coming and no one knows how to manage them. We don’t want this cocktail of emotions to sucker punch you in the face, so we’ve made a little encyclopedia on the stages of a new relationship.
It might not help you troubleshoot 100% but you will certainly not be taken aback when life throws you those curveballs. This comprehensive guide will give you a general overview of how a relationship progresses initially. While each relationship is unique and incomparable with others, there are a few striking similarities for sure. That being said, you shouldn’t panic if you don’t fully resonate with what’s written here. These different stages of a new relationship reflect the most frequent trajectory, not the only one.
You will learn what to expect when you’re dating someone new. The key takeaway should be the challenge each stage poses. We can’t chart the stages of relationships by months but we can certainly chart them by milestones. Get ready to arm yourself with some hardcore dating knowledge. Our teamwork will make your dream relationship work!
What Are The 5 Stages Of A Relationship?
The different stages of a new relationship are a rollercoaster ride of sorts but it’s quite easy to chart a rough course of how things will pan out. For your benefit, we’ve divided this progression into five parts. In actuality, the phases are not so neatly divided – they are not linear, a little messy, and overlap more than you’d expect. But all that comes much later. We begin by taking the first step with this informative read to quell your new relationship anxiety.
You might find yourself shaking your head in a few places. “Not me,” you’ll think, “I’d never do any of this.” But don’t be so quick in denying facts. The best of us have walked down the familiar roads of honeymoon phases and disappointments. Read with an open mind and be receptive to what we’re saying. We promise that these stages of a new relationship are well-researched and peppered with relevant examples. Here we go…
Related Reading: 21 Do’s And Don’ts When Starting A New Relationship
1. I only have eyes for you – The romantic stage
Much like that classic song by The Flamingos, a new couple has eyes only for each other. This honeymoon phase is a movie lover’s dream; frequent dates, lots of physical intimacy, flirting, small surprises, gifts, etc. Besotted completely, the partners live in a bubble of their own in the first stages of a new relationship, casting worldly concerns away. Do you recall how Charles goes ‘full Boyle’ in Brooklyn Nine Nine? Yes, precisely that.
It is quite common for people to experience distraction during this phase because they are preoccupied with the new relationship. Most of their mental space is taken up by their partner. And we all know the giddiness of having somebody new in our lives. A hallmark of the romantic stage is both partners putting their best foot forward – there are very few disagreements or conflicts. No one wants to ruin the mushiness by voicing complaints or misgivings.
This is exactly why most couples fail to set healthy relationship boundaries in this sappy zone. Both partners overstep very often and the glow of new love overshadows this mistake. Needless to say, it becomes a problem very quickly. Of all the stages of a new relationship, the romantic one generates the most common dating errors. It is in this period that people don’t recognize toxic relationships and red flags. Winged cupid is painted blind for a good reason.
Although it may not seem like it with all the heady rush of romance you’re in the thick of, navigating the first stages of a new romantic relationship is no piece of cake. Here are a few handy tips to make your sailing smoother:
- Reveling in romance is a lot of fun but don’t neglect your work/education. Losing sight of personal goals and priorities is inadvisable
- Similarly, don’t lose touch with your friends and family. Meet your social circle once a week – your life shouldn’t revolve around one person. This is all the more relevant for the girls out there, who tend to get all mushy during this stage of a relationship
- Set boundaries right at the onset. Communicate what is acceptable and what is not. This will make things so much better for you both
- You’ll be sexually active and adventurous in this early dating period so be sure to use contraceptives. Safe sex all the way!
- Don’t ignore the traits of a toxic boyfriend just because you’re having fun. A relationship needs more than thrill and sex to sustain itself
2. What are the early stages of a new relationship? The grounding stage
Well, the bubble does burst eventually. A few weeks/months into the relationship, the couple enters the real world as practical matters crop up. Questions like does it fit into the work schedule or who’s going to commute this time start doing the rounds. Everybody’s willing to go above and beyond in the romantic stage but that isn’t very sustainable. In this stage, a person feels like they’re making more of an effort than their partner.
But this period is one of the best stages of a new romantic relationship because it humbles the couple down. They learn the art of maintaining a relationship along with their individual lives. This often leads to power-struggle in the relationship because the rose-tinted glasses come off. Both individuals learn to see one another outside the role of boyfriend or girlfriend. And boy, is this realization heavy; you see your partner in their glorious imperfectness.
Viewing someone from an objective lens is a two-way street – you will also be perceived by your better half from a more rational vantage point. It’s quite common to experience self-consciousness and anxiety at the prospect of being seen in this manner by your partner but this exercise is truly indispensable in the larger view of things. It’s always better to discover deal-breakers in the early stages of a new relationship rather than later.
This leads to the most growth among all the stages of a relationship for a man/woman. Take a look at these quick tips for a better experience in the grounding phase:
- Don’t be quick to place blame on your partner for trivial matters. Try and see things from their perspective too
- Keeping realistic relationship expectations is a wise decision. No one should feel obligated to do things for each other
- While the awareness of being seen by your significant other for who you are is daunting, don’t shut them out or keep them at an arm’s length
- Similarly, be your most authentic self. Nothing comes out of keeping up pretenses – you don’t want a fake relationship, do you?
- And finally, being judgmental or critical of your partner is a no-no. Be reasonable in your assessment as you get to know them better
Related Reading: Power Dynamics In Relationships – How To Keep It Healthy
3. Oh no, oh no, oh no no no no no – The questioning stage
Instagram’s famous reel is the soundtrack to this period. We can also tout it as the ‘what if’ phase because people begin questioning their decisions right about now. Of all the stages of a relationship for a man, this one is the most intense – he looks back to his dating trajectory and starts wondering whether he’s in the right place. “Am I making the right choice?” “Is she the one for me?” “Are we even compatible?” “What’s going to come out of this?”
Simultaneously, the woman also contemplates things. Most people discover their patterns and tendencies here. Revelations like “I have daddy issues, oh my god” or “I am always attracted to controlling women” are very common. A mix of overthinking, introspection, and critical reasoning is the norm here. Many couples part ways in this period when they realize that they aren’t a good fit. In fact, this stage sees the most breakups of all.
It is very common for partners to turn out different than what their first impressions conveyed. Around this stage, people know their better half well enough – there’s no scope of misjudgment or rash decisions. When we talk about the different stages of a new relationship, the questioning period brings the most anxiety, self-doubt, and heartbreak.
Getting stuck in the questioning thought spiral is extremely detrimental to your mental health. There’s a way of emerging unscathed from this stage and powering through to the next:
- Overthinking ruins relationships. Make sure you know the difference between analyzing a situation and exacerbating it
- An inquisitive approach is healthy to a certain extent. It’s good to reassess your choices but don’t second-guess every step of the way
- In the event of wanting to break up, be open and straightforward in your communication. Ghosting your partner is extremely immature
- Reaching out to a mental health professional is a good choice to analyze your predicament better. We offer professional help at Bonobology through our panel of licensed therapists and counselors. You can count on us
4. Finding your footing – The stable stage
The couples who make it through the questioning period reach one of the most meaningful stages of a new relationship. The two partners arrive at a stable space and get to know each other deeply. They feel comfortable sharing their experiences, emotions, and opinions truthfully. Being vulnerable is not a challenge anymore because they create a safe space for each other. The relationship becomes a source of security and comfort for them.
Moreover, there are no excesses of emotion in this period. Ugly fights, bouts of anger, sudden outpouring of love, or an excess of lust are not found anymore. Nor are there grand gestures or shows of romance. Both partners have achieved a sense of maturity in the relationship and a comfort level with each other and don’t feel the need to be overt in displays of affection. Many relationships see friendship or companionship blossom at this stage as the couple becomes content. There is peace and calm in the connection they share.
Another important characteristic of this period is acceptance of each other. Both of them come to terms with the other’s flaws/quirks. They work as a team when challenges arise and the mentality shifts from ‘I’ to ‘we’. The biggest relationship priorities take precedence as they begin to devote a significant amount of energy and time to foster their equation.
There is not much room for error in these emotional stages of a new relationship but it’s always wonderful to keep a few pointers up your sleeve. Here are a few words of advice:
- It’s easy to become complacent in this stage. People stop putting in effort without realizing that maintenance is a must. Be sure to retain some spontaneity and romance
- Among all the stages of a relationship for a man, this one is the trickiest. Many men take their partners for granted because the relationship has become stable. This difference in approach can put the girlfriend off – don’t become lousy in your treatment of her
- It’s great to have a partner who’s your go-to for emotional problems but don’t rely on them completely. People run the risk of becoming emotionally dependent on their better half for everything. Have other outlets for yourself because your partner isn’t your therapist
Related Reading: The 7 Fundamentals Of Support In A Relationship
5. Taken once and for all – The commitment stage
Here comes the final and most beautiful period of the first stages of a new relationship. The couple settles into a rhythm and starts building a life together. They acknowledge each other’s presence to be integral to the future. Support and trust increase significantly through gestures of commitment like meeting the partner’s friends and family, having keys to their apartment, etc. A duo that makes it to the commitment stage is less likely to part ways in the short term.
The relationship sees its fair share of ups and downs but the couple’s way of handling them becomes much more efficient and healthier. They are willing to communicate and resolve conflicts through transparency and honesty. Harmony presides over everyday functioning and both individuals experience growth and fulfillment.
A reader from Cincinnati wrote, “My girl and I hit it off immediately. The first few months were great but we hit a few rough patches along the way. It’s taken us a while to get to a committed place but we couldn’t be more grateful. They say that the stages of a relationship for a man are difficult to go through but love is worth every inch of the effort.” And we second this wholeheartedly.
What could be the tips for this one, you ask? Well, this is the most important of all emotional stages of a new relationship. We don’t want you to face any trouble in this area. Take a peek at our two cents:
- There are a few relationship qualities that make life bliss – compromise, respect, empathy, gratitude, fidelity, communication, and so on. Try your best to imbibe them in your bond
- Remember to balance independence at all times. Your relationship is a part of your life, not your whole life
- Don’t try and pace things up in an attempt to ‘lock it in’. Always go with the flow
So, what did you think of these stages of a new relationship? We hope these have been of some help to you. Good luck on the new journey with your partner – may you always see joy, abundance, and unconditional love in all its glory.
We bid adieu with the wise words of Louis de Bernières, from his renowned book Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. “Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No … don’t blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away.”