You don't just jump from meeting each other to marriage. Every healthy relationship goes through five stages that explore meeting, dating, commitment, marriage and stability. Learn about each different stage and what happens if you get stuck.
The Stages of a Healthy Relationship
The stages of a healthy relationship helps people understand how commitment develops between two people. The amount of time each person will stay in a particular stage depends on the experiences each person has dealt with in the past. Many who are afraid of commitment will not graduate to the next stage because they are unable to master the feelings and openness in a particular stage.
Stage One: Getting to Know Each Other
Stage one is marked by excitement, interest and curiosity. This is when two people first become attracted to each other and form a bond based on common interests and sexual chemistry. Couples will discuss who they are by exploring morals, values, and other parts of their life. Couples will also experiment with intimacy by holding hands, kissing, or having intercourse. If the couple finds they are compatible on both areas of this first stage, they will usually move on to stage two.
Stage Two: Bringing Your Lives Together
The next stage involves bringing the person you meet into your life. If you have children, you may want the person to meet them. If not, you may want him or her to meet your family. You will want to show the person off to friends and other people who are important in your life. You may also start to invite the person to engage in hobbies or activities you enjoy so you can spend more time together and see if the person has the same interests. Another part of this stage involves thinking about this person as your boyfriend or girlfriend. This is the first level of commitment. You are making a commitment that you will only date this one person and want to share your life with him or her. If you find yourself including the person in your life and not interested in bringing someone else in, you may be ready for stage three.
Stage Three: Deeper Level of Commitment
Once the person has become a part of your life, you will start to appreciate him or her more. You will start to find even more reasons why you love the person. The sexual connection is much stronger. People who want to live together will usually do so in this stage. You may feel like you cannot live without the person and want to spend the rest of your life with him or her. This stage gets you ready for the next step in your life such as marriage.
Stage Four: Making a Statement about Your Commitment
In this stage, you decide you are ready to tell the world you have found your soul mate and ready to commit to the person for the rest of your life. You want to marry the person so you can show your partner as well as your loved ones how much you care for him or her.
Stage Five: Stability and Continued Growth
After marriage, your relationship will continue to grow. You will no doubt have some issues along the way, the thing to remember is that you have formed a solid base for a healthy relationship and if you work through issues as they come, you can continue to have a long lasting and satisfying marriage.
Getting Stuck in a Stage
Sometimes people have a hard time getting through all of the stages. This can cause problems in the future. If you are not compatible in stage one, the romantic union will not form. If you don't feel comfortable with introducing your new love interest to the people in your life or you don't want the person involved in other areas of your life, the relationship will most likely not advance. If you have a fear of commitment, you will most likely not graduate from stage two or three. To achieve the type of relationship that will be long lasting and successful, you need to find someone that you can trust and want to be part of your life. Knowing if you or your partner is stuck in a stage can help you determine if you should further the relationship.