The 5 Stages Of Love: Moving Through Relationships One Step At A Time

Updated May 17, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Nicole Gaines, LPC

Falling in love or being loved is not quite as easy as it may seem. For some of us, it takes many lives before we find the right one; it is possible to find love at twenty, thirty-five, or fifty.

Source: rawpixel.com

And when you find that love, you may not even recognize that just about any relationship goes through stages. It is rarely as simple as loving someone; love tends to be more complex, and a lover has their own set of emotions to contend with.

Understanding what those stages of love are can give you a new appreciation for what comprises that relationship, how much goes into loving someone, and why someone unloving you can be such a painful experience to deal with.

Keep in mind that it takes a bit of time to go through these stages of love. If you are in a short-term relationship, you may not even get to the point where you “love” someone, let alone all of the stages encompassing a relationship. So, what are these stages of love, and how do they impact our relationships?

Stage 1: The Newlywed Stage

We all know this stage of love: you have just begun a relationship, and everything is wonderful. Everything is also still very new. This is the first stage, and the first stages are something just about every relationship has to deal with.

And while it is possible to have different versions of the stages of love, the newlywed stage is often quite the same.  These early stages are all about wanting to spend every waking moment with your new love, to the point that friends and family roll their eyes about it.

This stage of love is quite literally bliss. The bond that you share with the other person seems perfect. It also seems like there will be nothing that can come between the two of you as you continue on your journey of love.

One of the issues surrounding the first stages is the almost willful ignorance of red flags and any possible warning signs from a personality aspect. The bliss that is felt in this stage becomes so overpowering that it can make any negative aspect seem like a minor footnote.

And it makes sense when you think about it. In the early stages of love, you learn about someone, and the relationship is largely based on attraction. You’re only seeing what you like about them physically; you haven’t had the chance to really learn about them as a person, to determine if any of their traits annoy or bother you.

This stage can vary in length, too. For many, it’s a matter of a few months; for others, it can be as long as a couple of years. Of all the stages, this one is the most fun, but it is also the least sustainable. Some don’t want to advance past this stage and jump from relationship to relationship so that they can experience the fun and joy that the newlywed stage brings with it.

This is also a time for focusing on similarities, even if there is an ignorance of flaws. And aside from living together or getting married, the newlywed stage is also where you spend the most time with that new significant other. So much time is spent together that it gets to be that you can’t imagine not spending time with them.

Source: rawpixel.com

Lastly, there is an avoidance of conflict when in the newlywed stage. After all, when things are blissful, there is no need to fight, right?

Stage 2: The “Settling In” Stage

As the honeymoon stage, this is one of those states that do not come at a specific time in the relationship, but you will know when you’ve seen it. This is the stage of love where you become more aware of who your partner is as a person.

The attraction is still there, but you see more of who they are and what they like setting up the potential failure or success in future stages. This is the phase of figuring out if you, as people, are compatible, not simply attracted to one another. It’s about realizing some of those faults or negative aspects and deciding if they are a huge deal and can be worked through or if they are too large to ignore.

This stage generally lasts six months or so, but it can take longer to truly decide if you want to be with that other person. For that reason, it should come as no surprise that this is the stage where many relationships end.

But accepting those other flaws can lead to the foundations of a truly healthy relationship. Seeing those behaviors or weaknesses that you don’t really like becomes a reality. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t in love with that person anymore; it’s just that the rose-colored glasses have come off, and not every single thing about them is perfect.

Here’s something you may not have realized about the newlywed stage, too: biology is actually on your side. When you’re in the romance stage, there is a release of endorphins that provide a feeling similar to a high. Your body can’t (and won’t) keep it up forever, which is where the settling in starts to occur.

It is also totally natural at this point to wonder if you are still in love. This is where you find out what your relationship is truly made of.

Source: rawpixel.com

Stage 3: The Disappointment Stage

It’s not as bad as it sounds. This stage is tough to go through and can lead to many breakups, but this is the stage where you are forced to grow, both individually and as a partner. You know what your differences are with the other person and determine if they are worth hashing out and working through.

For couples that can communicate healthily, this is where you can begin to see positive progress and advance to the next stage of love. In this stage, it may seem like arguments are wrong, so instead of fighting, both partners harbor negative feelings that never get expressed.

When that anger does get expressed, it can often be over very small differences between the two of you. And since you don’t realize that conflict is a healthy thing, you begin to wonder if the relationship is finished. Having thoughts of breaking up or getting a divorce is common, but to make it through, acceptance of the differences and a drive to move forward positively.

This is where strong, positive communication comes into play. Developing that communication, trust, and finding the ability to work together as a team is how couples truly come together and grow as a couple and individually.

At this stage, some help could be needed. If a counselor is deemed necessary to improve communication, ReGain can provide access to great professionals who can assist.

Stage 4: The Stability Stage

It should not be underestimated what it takes to reach this stage. But getting here proves that there is enough of a foundation and strength in the relationship it is worth working for. It’s not that getting to stage four is all smooth sailing, but couples here are more comfortable with themselves and the relationship.

At this stage, you have a history with one another, understand the differences that bother one another, and know how to work through them enough that they don’t cause a rift. The fantasy is gone, but you have both accepted this.

Knowing that fights and conflict will happen, you’re okay with that, but you love your partner and feel a connection with them. Most importantly, you feel confident that you can work through conflict. Some couples get “bored” here because the chase is over, but this stage is much more stable than the newlywed stage.

Stage 5: The Commitment Stage

There are married couples that don’t make it this far, but you are truly a team when you get here. You have also gotten to understand one another and vision of being a couple long into the future.

Source: rawpixel.com

Even more importantly, you don’t miss the romance stage because that means being with a new person, and you don’t want to be without the person you are with. Both people have maturity in the relationship and on their own in this stage.

That “romance” from the first stage may not be there, but there is something deeper at work. You truly connect with the other person on every level. You can depend on them, you can trust them, and you know that they will be there through just about anything.

There are variances of each stage, and it won’t be a textbook for everyone, but navigating through a relationship presents similar issues and problems. Love, true love, is worth working at, and not everyone gets to experience that.


Previous Article

How Men Fall In Love: Knowing How To Read Your Significant Other

Next Article

How To Stop Loving Someone: 5 Steps That Might Help
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist Today
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.