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Stages of a Relationship

Stages of a Relationship

You don’t have to look far to see all the red hearts flying around: It’s almost Valentine’s Day!

We know, we know. You’re probably bummed by all the marketing stunts capitalizing on this supposedly holy day (the feast day of St. Valentine), so we’re giving you a break.

Whether you have a date tonight, or not, we want you to take a few minutes to reflect on both your past and present (and future) relationships — they don’t always have to be romantic! See where you, or the other party, have gone wrong and highlight on the things you did right. 

Everyone — and we make no exception — goes through the following different personalities in a relationship. And, like levels in a game, the maturity of a relationship will depend on your decisions.

Stage 1: Strangers

Imagine your first interaction with your best friend. It probably all started with the both of you being assigned to sit together in class. Somehow, someone decides to introduce herself. The other is pleased and introduces herself back. Voila! Strangers no more.

Now, think of one Friday night in a bar, when some guy you don’t know comes up to you and offers you a drink. He introduces himself; you ignore him. Strangers no more, yes, but that’s all that there is and will be. 

How about the classic elevator scene? You’re stuck with someone from another department in your company. Will you small talk — or will you be mum for the rest of the moment you’re together? 

Remember: Any relationship begins with the meeting of two individuals who don’t know each other. 

Stage 2: Friends/Admirers

So, that guy from the elevator is no longer a stranger to you. You know his name; he knows yours. You eat lunch together, and you find something nice about this person: perhaps, it’s his adventurous personality, or your shared interests. And the more you interact with him, even if maybe only through Facebook, the more you connect… and you become friends.

This instant “click,” this connection, is your mind’s way of telling you that you admire the other person. 

Say, you’ve been friends with some guy since childhood, but at some point, you start to see your best male friend in a different light. It’s admiration: you see something not only nice, but also unique in him.

The admiration has gone deeper. Will you decide to remain friends, or will you try to take the relationship to the next level?

Note, however, that when you do take that risk of declaring your feelings to another person, this person gets to decide on his own if he’s okay with you being more than friends, or if he’s more comfortable with being just your friend.

Healthy relationships run both ways. One cannot just demand and never compromise. 

Stage 3: Lovers

If both parties feel a deeper admiration to each other, profess this feeling, and accept the changes that come with it, that’s when they become lovers.

In love, you would see the other person in rose-colored spectacles. Everything would seem right, as if the heavens have meant the both of you to end up together. 

You like the way he smiles and laughs. You warm up inside when he mentions your name. Even the way he sneezes and farts can look cute. And, he feels the same for you.

But a relationship that has evolved to romance cannot always be so happy.

Bonus Level: Doubters

As you progress into the relationship, there will be doubts. “Maybe I wasn’t ready to commit.” “What if he isn’t the one?” “What if he likes someone else, and he’s too afraid to tell me?” 

Someone, somehow, stops taking the calls. One withdraws, while the other keeps chasing. Self-esteem and self-assurance drops. The feeling of rejection takes over.

For some, this marks the beginning of the end. They break up, and they go back to being strangers again.

But there are the lucky ones — those who stick through the chaos, who patiently work on the mess they have both become. They are the ones who accept without judgment, who thrive through the pain, and who give without expectance of return. 

Stage 4: Partners

And that’s when they become partners. 

They share the same dreams and vision for the future. They begin (again) to refuel that admiration that was challenged by the previous fights. They talk about their flaws, and they try to make things better. 

They consult each other before making decisions, knowing that the choices they make — no matter how irrelevant — affect the other person. They apologize because they value the relationship more than their ego.

These people share not only their interests, but their being. They are friends and admirers of each other. Above all, they are partners, for life. 

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