12 Stages of a Healthy Relationship that all Couples Experience

By David Small •  Updated: 10/16/16 •  12 min read

Can you guess presently which stage of the relationship you’re in with your loved one? How many stages of a healthy relationship are there? Does every relationship go through stages? Are you stuck in a rut? If you need help understanding the stages of your relationship, you’re definitely not alone.

Everyone needs advice or help at one time or another, and it’s not uncommon to feel like your relationship is going nowhere. Here’s how to understand where you are, and how to propel your relationship to the next level.


Well, no matter how love starts, or what is your kind of love– nearly all couples go through these stages of love in their relationship. Understanding the different phases of love helps couples to move successfully into a better long-term relationship.

Relationships and marriages that evolve successfully generally go through phases of development: It doesn’t matter how long your relationship has lasted, you still need to study and understand the various stages of relationships.

Find your own relationship stage here, and it’ll definitely help you understand your own love life better.

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  1. Courtship and Romance

The first of the five stages of a relationship is the “falling in love” stage. We tend to be completely infatuated with our newest lover, we think about him or her all the time, and we do all kinds of things to make ourselves seem more appealing to the person we’re newly attached to.

The old saying “love is blind” is really apt at this stage because it truly is. This ‘enchantment’ phase brings in a lot of affection, laughter, playfulness, and all the negative traits are ignored. A lot of emphases is laid on the similarities you both share.

People in this stage feel high when they’re together and can’t wait to be with each other when they’re apart. There are butterflies in the stomach, and your fluttery hearts don’t stop beating for each other.

If your relationship has moved beyond this stage, revisiting romance can be helpful. People grow and change within relationships, so take the opportunity to remind your partner why you’re so special in the first place, and do whatever you can to make him or she feel loved.

  1. Familiarization

In the second of the five stages of a relationship, people let their guard down. Start to learn more about the person you are with, and they start to learn more about you. You might find out that your boyfriend is really messy, or your girlfriend really is a horrible nail biter.

See your partner in relaxed situations, and you become more relaxed as well. Since your body cannot possibly continue to produce the same levels of endorphins that it was in the beginning, those feelings of being on top of the world start to decline.

Your partner’s little habits aren’t quite as cute as they used to be, but there is still enough goodwill from the Romance Stage that you’re willing to overlook them. This stage can start to trickle into your relationship slowly, as you begin to see your partner for who s/he really is. Or sometimes it happens all of a sudden when there has been some sort of dishonesty or deceit…

  1. Distress of A Healthy Relationship

The so-called “distress” phase is one of the most important stages of a relationship. It’s the stage where you learn how to disagree with one another, and it’s often the stage where many newer relationships end up breaking off due to irreconcilable differences.

Learning how to cope with disagreement within your relationship is important, and one thing you’ve got to remember is that every relationship is different. Deep resentments begin to build if you’re unable to resolve your issues in a respectful and mutually agreeable way. Many couples get stuck at this stage because this way of interacting becomes normal in their relationship.

If you’re at this stage, you might wonder why your sex drives don’t match your partners, or why theirs lessened, or why you annoy or anger your partner more now. If you fought with your last partner, think about the lessons you learned so that you don’t repeat similar mistakes again.

What you need to do is hold on! The best is yet to come – even if you see a drop in your love relationship. Keep making the efforts and hope for the best.

Healthy Relationship

  1. Doubting stage

Don’t most of you come across this stage in your relationship when doubt starts to creep in? Mostly, this stage comes after many years of being together with each other in a relationship. You begin to doubt your love, devotion, and dedication to your partner.

You might start thinking about your exes, your past relationships, or even start contacting any of your old boy or girlfriends because you are no longer sure if you are truly in love with your partner.

In this stage, everything relates to your relationship. If you are unhappy and hurt in your relationship – you tend to blame it on your partner for putting you through such trying times. You might even start comparing your relationship with other couples, and other relationships. Remember, you can cross this stage of love in your relationship if you are not dull and boring.

  1. Changing stage

You might be having a lot of expectations from your partner. Sometimes you might even try and mold them to be the perfect partner you want to see them as. It’s a power struggle going on, and sometimes relationships end if one side dominates the other. Instead of seeing the similarities as you did in the romance stage, you focus on the differences and flaws of your partner.

Some couples might even break up and move on at this stage. This happens especially with those who date often, or don’t fully commit, and look for love but find disappointment instead. Each partner is afraid of giving in and wants the other to change. This is where deep resentments begin to form, which, if left unchecked, become cancer that eventually eats away at all the love and tenderness that has come before. Sarcasm and hostility enter into daily conversations.

  1. Discovery stage of A Healthy Relationship

Once a couple passes the above stages relationship, all the unrealistic expectations tend to fade away. Both sides start to discover more about each other and make efforts knowing how they both can fit and work things together.

Couples start defining and clarifying their roles, commitment, and compatibility towards each other. They need to explore their relationship needs and their partners too. There is the need to decide on questions like how much time do they like to spend together or remain apart, how does each side like to express love, or receive it etc.

They need to decide on questions like how much time do they like to spend together or remain apart, how does each side like to express love, or receive it etc. Once couples are able to communicate their needs effectively to one another, avoid a lot of other things that can make a relationship bitter.

Avoid unhealthy behaviors like avoidance, withdrawals, criticism, and defensiveness. Instead, focus on acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, and patience.


  1. Stability

The stability or friendship stage is one of the most crucial stages of a relationship since it builds a strong foundation. When you make it to the stability stage, you learn much more about who your partner is, and you make new discoveries on a deeper level than you did in the other stages.

If you want to make the most of the stability stage, keep on working to make yourself better, and be sure to give your partner the opportunity to do the same. This stage is also known as the Friendship Phase or Reconciliation Stage. Some couples never make it to this stage, but the ones who do find that they have deeper feelings of love, connection and trust with their partner.

You now have a history together, and most people begin to rely on the predictability of the relationship. As you enter this stage, you begin to realize that your partner isn’t perfect, but your personal differences aren’t quite as threatening as they used to be.

  1. Connection stage

Next, comes the phase of love in a relationship in which the couples go deeper into trust, commitment, and connect with each other. This is the stage when they experience intimacy. They are more supportive of each other and share each other’s experiences as well.

Problems or ups and downs are part and parcel of every relationship. However, the connection both partners will have and the loyalty towards each other will carry them through these small problems.

In this stage, you stop thinking about your own individual selves and shift the focus to what works best for the relationship.

It is actually a stage of attachment when you feel connected, are one-to-one, and love each other a great deal. There is more of team spirit and oneness that further strengthens the relationship. This perhaps is the stage when you feel like a perfect match or made for each other.

  1. Intimacy stage

In this stage, your sex life plays a major role. Either the sex drives of both partners may change or one of you might get disinterested or over interested in sex. The truth is that in this stage, some changes occur in your sex life, either good or bad.

One of you may give up on sex, or keep looking for ways to make it more exciting. However, if there is a difference in sexual interests, one of you might even end up having an affair or indulging in serious masturbation to get satisfied.

The answer lies to find creative ways to make your sex life more exciting, which might make your relationship better and bond both of you better. Coupling is the apt term to describe this stage of a love relationship.Whatever you do, do not play with this stage! Scientifically, this stage has proven to break up so many relationships. Work on your sex life and make it better!

  1. Trust stage

This is the ultimate stage when both partners love and trust each other totally. However, sometimes this kind of complete trust can also make you take each other for granted – so be careful there.

From all the above stages of love in a relationship, it’s at this stage that you know the direction of your relationship. You are happy with each other, and know what to expect from each other too.

Even though there are total bliss and understanding at this stage, don’t stop appreciating and take your partner lightly. That’s because love needs to be worked on and nurtured all the time. If you don’t keep your love fresh and alive and fail to express your love to your lover more often, it can be rekindled by someone else.


  1. Understanding Stage

Those of you who’ve crossed all the above stages of love in your relationship and reached so far – it means you’ve begun to understand your partners better now. The understanding stage is a lot of giving and take, and each partner tries to change the other to suit his or her needs.

Couples in this stage remains blissful and happy with each other, and they keep making efforts to work on their relationships to make things work. At this stage, both partners recognize and accept each other for who and what they are. They need to avoid misunderstanding and understand each other better than before. At this stage, both partners recognize and accept each other for who and what they are. They try to avoid misunderstanding and understand each other better than before.

The stages of love in a relationship aren’t easy, but if you know how to move from one stage to another, it’s not all that tough either. To get past this stage, accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You need to focus on the positives, let go of the negatives, and explore each other’s goals and interests.

  1. True Commitment

Once you’ve made it through the early stages of a relationship, you’re ready for true commitment. At this stage, you’ve probably been through some ups and downs together, and you feel as though you can really depend on your partner.

True love has developed and you’re both committed to working on how to you’re your relationship work. You’re no longer struggling for individuality, but functioning as a team that can enjoy life together.

According to Sarah M. Schultz, MA, CPC, a certified Personal Development Coach in Park City, UT, many couples decide to make a formal or public commitment to each other at this stage (such as marriage) to demonstrate their intention to continue their relationship. This is the stage in which your relationship becomes a true partnership.

Even though you’re committed to each other, be sure not to stop taking care of yourself. Keep learning and growing, and be sure that you take the time to experience new things together – you’ll truly enjoy all the best life has to offer.


I’m sure those who have been in a healthy relationship for a while, must’ve gone through all or most of these relationship stages. Once you are aware of these stages of love in a relationship, you know what to avoid and what to do so that you can easily move into a long-term relationship, and let your love deepen and blossom further.

Remember, good relationships need to be worked on all the time. You need to take out time, be aware, practice the skills, and take the risks too. Most importantly – just love your partner with all your heart.

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David Small

is the founder and editor of relationshiptips4u. He is a dating, marriage & relationship coach, speaker, and author. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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