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Where Are We? – Stages of a Relationship

Where Are We? – Stages of a Relationship

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Where Are We? – Stages of a Relationship

There are many types of relationships – various styles, different grounds. However all undergo through some sort of inbuilt though unnoticed, stages of a relationship.

Relationships are formed between two or more people as a form of social associations, networks, membership, or personal connections. These may be kinship relations, community attachment, association, profession, formalized union, non-formal intimacies, casual relationships, platonic ones, brotherhoods, friendships, or soul mates. Many fields and theories have tried to describe and distinguish what these relationships are – Anthropology, sociology, psychology, and even biology. And more helpful to these studies is the uncovering of the stages of a relationship – how it is formed, developed, even terminated. More importantly, the stages of a relationship determine the course of those people involved in a relationship. This especially applies practically to hazy relationships or to those that need mending or little appreciation.

The beginning stages of a relationship seem to be full of care and mutuality. Until, it develops into ‘difference’ pressures, or, an amazing ‘connection.’ Negatively, the relationship could give off either a disappointing expectation, an ‘I-am-being-used’-complex, or a final ‘we’re-not-right-for-each-other’. If you’re lucky the relationship settles into stability and eventually to a commitment phase. – Yet how so? How are do the stages of a relationship develop either positively or negatively?

First to know in the stages of a relationship is the contact phase. This is an important stage because it marks all future prospects of a deeper bonding. The ‘initiator’ of a relationship performs or is introduced to an uncertainty reduction – eye contact, open disclosure, and ‘what’s your ID’ (often instigated by instinctive “lust” or intense longing according to Helen Fisher, an anthropologist). Also involved in this interaction is the perceptual getting-to-know-you – noticing how each one reacts, looks at each other including their body language, also paying attention to interactional cues such as nodding and eye-contact which forms the foundation of respect and agreement. If this first contact goes well then an invitational-step (courtship) could ensue by encouraging the relationship and further meet-ups. This could end as is, if the invited results to avoidance strategies, not exchanging disclosure, responding minimally, and averting eye-contact. A number of “attraction” factors though could help the contact evolve into a deeper stage – familiarity, proximity, physical comeliness, similarity, reciprocal liking or reward-reinforcement. Then both could engage in involvement (dating) steps through feelers (personal questions and hints), intensifying strategies (introducing to other close relations), and public expression (being seen together and showing affection). The next stage then could be obvious through an intimacy/marital-stage marker – the symbolical exchange of personal belongings or commitment icons – friendship bands or a promise ring – creating “attachment”. Expectedly, though regrettably, after 6-months, the relationship undergoes deterioration (not exactly termination) or ‘honeymoon-stage’ where flaws start to get noticed – the most crucial stage that dictates further stability and commitment in the relationship.

Luckily we all have a hand to make or break it.

Date night
Image by shawncampbell

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