A new relationship usually follows four main stages, comparable to the seasons in a year. If you follow the phases with the right person, you will be able to achieve a healthy, committed relationship. Many people give up as soon as the first passionate and exciting stage is over, but it is important to know that relationships are cyclical and follow predictable patterns.

The Perfect Phase

This phase is perfect, and lasts about 3 months. Your partner is perfect, you can’t stop thinking and talking about them. This phase is like summer: it’s hot, exciting, and gives you a rush of endorphins. Your brain and your body are literally high on love and lust. Your relationship fuels you to the point where you might even feel that you don’t need sleep or food.

The Imperfect Phase

The second phase is usually initiated after your first fight, around 3 months. This phase is like autumn, with some warm days, and some cold days too. This is when reality starts to seep into your previous euphoria. You notice the quirks, the strange habits, the annoying behaviour, and the incompatibilities. The fear of intimacy starts to kick in. Many relationships break down at this point, and you go off in search of the next “perfect” person.

The Negotiable Phase

You have settled into the winter of the first year of your relationship, at around 6 months. This is where you start to negotiate the things you can and cannot accept about each other. You analyze each flaw and fight in terms of the future. Can you live with this habit, this behaviour, for the rest of your life? Is there enough love and passion to balance out any negatives you may have discovered? You start to think about how this person fits into your life, and you ask yourself what potential this relationship has for the long term. Communication and compatibility start to take over, whereas in the first 2 phases, chemistry was driving you forward. In this phase, you ask yourself if you are happy with your relationship, as well as practical things that are a part of sharing a life with someone, such as spending habits, sex, time apart, and hobbies.

The Commitment Phase

This phase is like spring, and represents the birth of a new kind of relationship. This occurs in the last 3 months of the first year of your relationship. You have made it through the negotiable phase, and have committed yourselves to each other. You are facing life as a couple, and you have chosen this person. This stage should ideally be reached after you have established that you are compatible, are able to communicate, and have chemistry to get you through the tough times. If you have followed these phases, and really have the 3 C’s of a healthy, lasting relationship (see previous blog post), you are likely to have a lifelong partnership with this person.