The 12 Stages of Relationship Development – Explained

Sanjukta Das
stages of relationship development

The beginning of a relationship starts with a gaze across the room. Or something more realistic, not the movie version, no, we do not get to experience that. As time progresses, the stages of a relationship tend to get less cute and more real. The real deal starts in the early stages of the relationship, aka the honeymoon period, where having a food fight and licking food off each other’s bodies seems like God’s good grace. But an adventurous trip could become a way of discovering a different side of your mate.

Good? Bad? Only time will tell.

The relationship development stages are important for they make or break a couple. These stages are more like hoops you have to jump through via trials and tribulations.

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Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

12 stages of relationship development

Here are the 12 stages of relationship development every relationship goes through at some point or the other.

1. First glance/meet-cute

This is bound to be cute. Girl drops books, the boy picks them up, girl giggles at the boy’s joke and BAM! They like each other. This meet-cute scenario is not with every couple though. You might have been friends first and have fallen for each other after years or months.

You might look at your friend differently and consider them as a viable candidate for a romantic relationship. This stepping away from friendship to gravitate towards a more-than-friendly relationship is common.

Every relationship has a memorable beginning.

Related reading: We made it, despite being strangers in the beginning

2. Get some moves

understanding the relationship you wanted with your partner

First step of relationship Image source

The initial months are important to shape what kind of couple you are going to be. Are you holding-hands kind of a couple, or no-PDA kind? Whatever couple you turn out to be it is a reflection of how you are during your courtship period. If you hold hands on your first outing together, chances are you would do so in the later stages as well. This stage builds up how you portray as a couple to the world.

3. Become official

There is such a thing as coming out as a couple to your friends and family, who incidentally, has been teasing you both for a while now. ‘Yes, we are together’, ‘No, it did not happen because we were drunk’. This relationship stage is mostly about getting queries from your close friends about how the love story started. As adults, we might not even have this conversation but as adults, this is more of a step to confirm that you both are on the same page. And that’s good.

Related reading: Exclusive Dating: It Isn’t Surely About a Committed Relationship

4. Overloading on social media

Social media freaks will surely relate to this and how Instagram is a viable means of declaring you and your partner as a couple now. A couple or more Insta stories, few status updates about the best qualities your partner has and you are ready to be seen as the new lovebirds on the block.

Related reading: Couples and social media PDA: To share or not to share?

5. First of the many lover’s spat

fighting a little bit with partner is also a stage of relationship

Getting into some fight Image source

The first official fight. Like screening-your-partner’s-calls kind of a fight. Truth be told, the first fight seems like an important stage in relationship development because you get to know your partner a lot better now.

Emotions like anger, rage, tears can be thrown around a lot and the first fight feels like a nightmare. How you choose to deal with it remains the sole question. Do you like your partner when they are angry or is it something you don’t want to deal with? A lot of decisions are made during and after the fight.

6. Disenchantment

After the big fight comes the point when you are disillusioned with your partner. The flaws show, both yours and theirs. You realize your partner is not the perfect person you imagined to be. You question the future prospects of the relationship. If the fight reveals whether you want to be with the person in spite of the flaws or consider this a red flag and let go of the relationship. Either way, this stage in relationship development clears a lot of questions in your mind.

Related reading: 8 fights every couple will have at some point in their relationship

7. Resurrection

The relationship resurrected after the first fight is much stronger than before. You learn your partner’s flaws, accept them and treat it as an integral part of the relationship. The acceptance that comes with it bonds you two better together. In a relationship, resurrecting it means compromising for the sake of your partner. A newer version may include you quitting smoking, or not being a workaholic. This stage of relationship is about moulding a better version of yourself; someone your partner vibes better with.

8. Could it be love?

proposing the partner and saying I love you is the most crucial stage of relationship

Proposing the partner Image source

This stage of a relationship is possibly all about butterflies in the stomach and the songs that suit you so much. Sure, you have been together for some time, but have you said the three words yet? People in this generation resort to texting, ‘I love you’, on WhatsApp. That is also good enough. Or you could go old school and confess face to face. Write in a letter maybe? One of the best stages of the relationship!

9. Second major disillusionment

This can come as a personal crisis in one of your partners. Something like being unemployed, or losing someone close. They might shut themselves off emotionally which can be hard on you. This is one of the important stages of a relationship and how the relationship will turn gets decided here. Coming out of this stage requires being understanding and empathetic.

Related discussion: Do you always know when your spouse is getting into crisis mode?

10. Stronger intimacy

Intimacy comes in many ways. After facing a crisis together and understanding each other better, intimacy is improved. As you progress through stages of a relationship, you learn to be intimate even without being physical. Experimenting with sex is an indication of it. You know what works for you and what ‘feels right’ and you are able to open up to your partner. This is when you plan out the dates according to your work schedule and keep intimacy on its toes. Maybe you are scheduling eating out once a week in a fancy place or watching Netflix in your pyjamas, this is where your intimacy becomes more upgraded.

11. Better understanding and stability

This is a stage where you’re cancelling a date night does not get you in trouble. This is because your partner is more understanding. They know your work pressure; they know something might have come up. The newly achieved sense of understanding usually happens in a long-term relationship.
You develop a sense of stability in the relationship and take comfort in it.

12. Unuttered trust

In a relationship trust is what makes it successful

Trusting the partner Image source

Trust being the groundwork for every relationship is crucial and forms the final pillar in stages of relationship development. Previously, there might be trust in the relationship but jealousy and insecurity might have crept into your mind. At this stage, you know you, partner, better than ever and can trust them with your eyes closed. There is no place for negativity in your relationship because you have seen it all together. Complete trust in a relationship requires time but it is a sign your relationship is going to thrive.

These stages of relationship development are subjective to couples. Some arrive to their relationship bliss faster while others work hard to achieve it. If yours have not arrived yet, fret not. You are getting there sooner than you think.

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