The Stages of Romantic Relationships

by Relationship Coach Rinatta Paries on February 2, 2012

in Break-ups and Divorce, Dating, Marriage, Pages, Relationships

All romantic relationships, including marriage, go through predictable stages as they grow and develop, with specific relationship issues and dynamics at each stage.

Some relationship stages last a specific period of time, while others can go on for years, or indefinitely.

What stage is your relationship or marriage in? Or if you are single or divorced, at what stage do your relationships always end, and why?

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Want to understand the stages of romantic relationships, so that you can navigate relationships with more ease and know how?

Get the book: The 8+ Stages of Relationships – How to do relationships right at every stage, from the first date to a lifetime together in love.


The stages of relationship development are:

Stage 1: The Honeymoon:
According to love songs and fairy tales, this stage of a relationship is what love is supposed to be like. You meet, you connect, you fall in love. Everything seems right. Yet, even this stage – especially this stage! – has stumbling blocks, warnings and mistakes that are typically made.

Stage 2: The Discovery
During this stage, the initial excitement of being together fades somewhat and you can begin to see who the other person is in ordinary life. What should you do about the things you discover about each other? Most people get this stage all wrong, and they don’t even know it!

Stage 3: The Commitment
This is the stage most singles fantasize about — the place where the relationship is settled, you know you are together, and you can finally relax. But rather than an end of a process, it is only the beginning. And what happens in this stage sets you two up to either have a great or not-so-great relationship.

Stage 4: The Power Struggle
This is the stage of relationships that will either make or break the couple, the stage at which many couples split up. The power struggle can be a gut-wrenching, painful place for a couple to be. It is very important that the right actions are taken in this stage, because it will set the tone for the rest of the relationship.

The above 4 stages are the only stages many relationships make it through.

There are four more stages that I will tell you about below. But before I do that, would you like to:

  •     Lean about each relationship stage
  •     Identify when you are in each of the stages of a relationship
  •     Discover the joy of each relationship stage
  •     Find the stumbling block of each relationship stage
  •     Get the warning to heed in each of the stages of a relationship
  •     Know the mistakes men and women typically make in each of the stages in relationships
  •     Find out what to do in each of the stages of relationships to have a thriving relationship
  •     Get a Coaching Tip with specific action steps to make sure you fare well in every stage of relationships

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Get the book: The 8+ Stages of Relationships – How to do relationships right at every stage, from the first date to a lifetime together in love to get all that and more!



The 5 stages after the Power Struggle
After the power struggle stage your relationship will follow one of two tracks in terms of relationship stages.

If the two of you resolve the power struggle, you will experience the following relationship stages:

  • Stage 5: Growth
  • Stage 6: The Second Honeymoon
  • Stage 7: The Child
  • Stage 8: A Team Under Crisis
  • Beyond Stage 8: Wellspring of Love

Here the relationship is wonderful, loving and gets better over time!

If the two of you fail to resolve the power struggle, you will instead experience the following relationship stages:

  • Stage 5: Anger
  • Stage 6: Peace with a Price
  • Stage 7: The Bind
  • Stage 8: Driven Apart by Crisis
  • Beyond Stage 8: Life, Separately

Here the relationship will be dying a slow or not-so-slow death, with more and more distance developing between the two of you.

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Go pick up your copy of the book The 8+ Stages of Relationships: How to do relationships right at every stage, from the first date to a lifetime together in love. Take the suggested action for your relationship stage to put more passion and love into your relationship or marriage.
You might even save your relationship or marriage!

Or, if you are single, you might finally understand what to do to get relationships right!


 This article was originally published in 2005, revised in early 2012 and then again in October of 2012.


odejayi funmi July 25, 2012 at 3:34 am

my relationship is about seven month now,its so interest i realy enjoy it with d little we had shared together.i need advice to make d relationship to move to high level.i will be excited if u could do it

Relationship Coach Rinatta Paries July 26, 2012 at 9:54 am

Odejayi, the book mentioned in this article will help you move your relationship forward.

Norma Flores January 23, 2012 at 6:56 am

I liked this article a lot, I think i think it can help anyone who is in live, is about to fall for it or is in any of the other stages

C.M. January 20, 2012 at 1:42 am

THANK YOU!!!!! This was so useful and helpful to read, even if just to help be more aware of the nature of human relationships. Thank you for making this available for free!

David October 31, 2011 at 10:22 am

I love your article real good and God will continue to bless you more and more.
Keep it up.

Ray Tetteh August 25, 2011 at 11:47 pm

that’s amazing to know that this things that I’m going thru is normall wit every relationship, thanks. I’ll forward this to all of my frnds.

Kate August 20, 2011 at 7:27 am

Thank you so much for this article! My boyfriend and I are stuck in a “rut” right now and knowing that this happens in every relationship is a huge relief. I thought it was just my relationships. I now have a new found hope for us.

doug July 12, 2011 at 9:15 am

what a great article ! i was looking for answers an found some great tools along the way .. i will definatlyy be reading it again.. my relationship is amazing even tho its onlt the first 3 months i found out yesterday that im sharing my gfs luvv with other ex bf’s .. shes no longer sleeping with them and theres no cheating but shes got a deep luv and connection with them still… its a first for me so i wasnt sure how to take it … but i can see its just me being silly and im willing to trust her and share her luv with her ex bfs ..

Kate August 20, 2011 at 7:23 am

Doug, I was in the same position as your girlfriend. In time she will start to distance herself from them. She shared a deep connection with them and that is always something that is hard to break. I will always share a deep connection with my ex boyfriends but I realized in order to be in a new healthy relationship I had to let myself give it to my new boyfriend. It took a long time for me to realize this but in time it will happen.

Skylar January 27, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Wow, this article really helped me out. I believe my Fiancé and I are directly between “The Commitment” and “The Power Struggle”. I honestly had no idea what was happening, because I love my Fiancé so very much, but recently we have started having a few “moments”. Luckily one of the things we are good at is talking our way through the rough patches and getting back to the good times! Once again, thank you!
This article really helped!

T October 22, 2009 at 4:25 am

What a great article Rinatta!! Thank you for directing me to it! I will bookmark this and read more later. :)

Dominic August 16, 2009 at 12:43 am

The stages are very true indeed , how come none of these marraige counsellors tell you this ? so much for experts ! my marraige split up in the power struggle stage , we married in our 20,s , had 2 kids , got careers , were very much in love , to be honest my career went a bit lopsided and hers on the up , I suppose the dynamic changed when she started earning more than me , her attitude towards me changed , almost condescending , I probably reacted badly to this and communication died , the hardest thing is that now she doesn,t recognise I exist and although our sons are our common bond , its as if I am dead to her , there wasn,t any abuse ,or cheating in our marraige , not even many rows , its 3 years now , finding it difficult to move on , rebounded for a while but that was transient , this article has explained a few things to me so thanks for that , maybe its time to let go completely as forelorn hope is exasperating and lonliness is a killer . Its like being a young person again without the good looks now that once attracted a partner , which is soul destroying.

Shaunak September 5, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I really appreciate this article! Thanks a lot for coming up with it! I was a whole lot lost for a few weeks now and couldnt understand what was going on!! But now i am confident and reassured that we can work it out.. We are in a relationship for about a year now and it is our first year of college now. We are no longer close to each other now and havent even met for two months now.. And lately since our classes have started the struggle phase has started. Thanks for the article again!

Elizabeth February 11, 2009 at 9:01 pm

I am very young to be thinking about marriage and building a life together but the guy i have been seeing for the last four months is a fantastic person and I am very passionate about him and I care for him deeply. We have already been through a very hard time while he went through a tough experience. I feel like he’s the one but I don’t want to rush into it if i’m wrong.

hull October 25, 2005 at 12:38 am

This is a nice blog for me. I have not been in a very deep and serious relationship lately. I was involved in one, but ended up not in a manner that I have planned. Perhaps my insensitivity have caused our downfall.

Rel Coach Rinatta Paries October 2, 2005 at 2:22 pm

Jaci, The eclasses are created for an individual – even the ones on issues for couples. That way, you – the person who wants change – can work through the eclass and bring what you learn into the relationship. This is done because so often in relationships only one person wants change, while the other one resists.

Of coarse, if you choose to do the eclass as a couple, it will be so much better for your relationship!

Jaci October 2, 2005 at 6:30 am

How do the E classes work? Do you read through the classes as a couple, together or individually? How do you interact with each other(the couple)? I’m not completely understanding how it works, even after I read the Full Description given on the web site.

Jacque September 4, 2005 at 9:26 pm

This is one of my very favorite articles – I have requested it several times when I’ve misplaced my copy. 😉 My most recent request was so that I could give it to my daughter. She is 23 and earlier this yr. met a nice guy who she has flipped her lid for – I thought this article would be of great help to them as they go along. My daughter got engaged yesterday!

Melissa September 4, 2005 at 8:25 am

Well this morning my b/f of 2 years tells me it has taken him this long to figure out we aren’t compatable. I think it’s when our relationship got “comfortable” and I didn’t get the same type of attention and affection so I panicked thinking he was having an affair and in turn, always looking for signs to verify that. He complains I’m always “on him” about something.And he is probably right, it’s because I feel something is wrong and I’m just trying to figure out what that is and how to fix it.There was so much love and affection between us…where could it have gone? I’m hoping he will read this article of yours and agree to take courses to save our relationship or at least try. Thanks

Kathy August 26, 2005 at 4:11 pm

WOW! What a fantastic article. This portion of the website alone makes me a believer in anything else you have to say. It has been nine years of marriage for me and my husband. We got through every stage up to the power struggle phase. When I never got what I needed (sex). I thought the discovery phase was long past. When I recently discovered the truth my husband is not interested in a sexual relationship with me. He is interested in a different lifestyle. Hmmmmmm…I no longer pressure him. I am trying to be happy and finding sex in another relationship. I plan on ending the sharade soon, and telling the truth. Something he should have done nine years ago.

Shelly and John August 19, 2005 at 7:32 pm

My fiancee’ and I just read your article together. I have read it before and found it valuable. My fiancee’ is excited about the prospect of starting out our marriage on the right track by taking your ecourses and developing our intimacy and communication. This is the second marriage for both of us and we have learned lessons from our failed previous relationships, but we also understand there is more to learn and know about ourselves, and that self-knowledge is essential to maintaining a thriving relationship. Thank you so much for offering this article, so that people can help themselves achieve true loving relationships!

SOuth Africa August 19, 2005 at 11:09 am

I always find your articles very informative and accurate. It tough for me I cannot attend your courses or coaches. I am a newly wed in South Africa (Cape Town).

I wonder if you have not considered extending you help and presence beyong US shores, to South Africa, maybe in the future? Think about that, maybe one US winter (SA summer), take a vacation and share your wisdom with us.

Thank you.

Johanna Fernandez August 18, 2005 at 1:59 pm

This is a great article. I had read it before and was glad to find it again in the newsletter.

My boyfriend and I have been together for a year. I believe we are on stages 3-4, probably 4. We are committed; we moved in together 2 months ago. We know what we love about each other and what can annoy us. We are still learning about stage 4. We are very happy we met, but I have wondered if we have moved too fast. I feel we have not. We spent a lot of time getting to know each other, before we even held hands. But I know that one year seems too fast for many. Thank you for sharing this brilliantly written, very helpful article.

Rita August 18, 2005 at 6:40 am

Thank you so much for the information. We will definitely put it to good use. Me and my partner are both divorced and would really want to make this relationship work. We are planning to get married soon.

Rel Coach Rinatta Paries August 17, 2005 at 7:51 pm

Wilma – thank you!

Wilma Melendez August 17, 2005 at 6:49 pm

This is an excellent article. It is all true, explained in a simple way. It also tells what you can do to improve the situation.

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