The honeymoon period of a new relationship is often filled with endless love and budding romance. Flowers, candy, and sweet text messages are exchanged, and every moment spent with each other is cherished. However, despite the euphoria experienced in the initial six months of companionship, it is common for relationships to hit a snag down the road. The question is, when do most relationships end? Why do couples, who started on an incredibly sweet note, break up eventually?
According to statistics, most relationships go from being passionate, hot, and heavy to “meh” in around eighteen months. Couples begin to question if they should continue with the relationship, as the feeling associated with being in love – the butterflies and longing – dissipate during this time. Researchers have discovered that relationships are typically more vulnerable to demise much earlier than the infamous seven-year itch. In fact, most couples end their relationship around the two-year mark as they start to see everything about each other, from their best to their worst, physically and emotionally. The couples gradually get used to each other’s presence, and the spark that once drove their passion and playfulness begins to fade.
It’s worth realizing that most couples go through five different stages in a relationship, and most of them get stuck in stage three, where the relationship hits a plateau. Initially, couples believe that when the initial “infatuated” feeling fades, the love is fading too. They think that when the butterflies are gone, it’s time to end the relationship – this is further from the truth. Every relationship goes through a series of stages. The couple that survives successfully makes it through all five stages, and those that get stuck and eventually break up usually do so in stage three.
Stage 1: Passion and Romance
The first stage of a relationship is the honeymoon or infatuation stage. It’s filled with lots of kisses, cuddles, and touches that don’t need a particular reason. At this stage, you’re completely taken by your partner and blinded to their flaws. It’s the easiest phase to endure and is usually intense.
Stage 2: Getting Serious
This is the phase where the couple is still in the honeymoon or infatuation stage, but they can now see the potential for a long-term future. The relationship becomes exclusive, and they start making long-term plans together. There’s still hand-holding, cuddling, and sharing of intimate information.
Stage 3: Relationship Plateau
This stage is when the relationship starts to become real, and the couple takes off the blinders. They start to see each other’s flaws clearly, and physical touches like hand-holding and kissing may begin to slow down a bit. The couple starts to question the relationship’s passion, and the love that used to be intense seems to be fading away.
Stage 4: Moving Beyond Infatuation
If the couple decides to stick with their relationship and move past stage three, then they develop a deeper and more intimate relationship. They discuss serious matters such as marriage, finances, and children, and they begin to make plans to move forward together as a unit. This is the stage where the relationship is solidified, and the couple builds a life together.
Stage 5: Becoming a Team
The final stage of the relationship is when both partners become a solid team, and decisions are made as a team rather than individuals. This is when the couple has the best chance of making it to “happily-ever-after”.
Breaking Through the Honeymoon Stage
Couples often break up in stage three because they believe that the relationship isn’t working. They believe that the love and passion have faded away, and they’ve fallen out of love. The first thing couples should realize is that feelings don’t sustain a relationship. Feelings are unreliable because they vary, and they’re often affected by external factors.
When a family welcomes a newborn, the first few months are usually filled with excitement and joy. But once the excitement diminishes, and the parents have to deal with dirty diapers, spit ups, and random crying, the once-exciting feeling fades away. However, this doesn’t mean they no longer love the baby. A romantic relationship works much the same way. It’s the struggle that helps both partners grow, and it’s the same process that helps the relationship get better.
The honeymoon phase may last for a few months or years, but the duration of each stage is different for every couple. Stage three requires the couple to make a decision. They must choose to go all in and decide that their relationship is worth it. Relationships take a lot of effort, and it’s essential to put in the work required to build a healthy and long-lasting one.
The following tips can help a couple move out of stage three and onto the next phases of their relationship:
1. Recognize that questioning the relationship is normal and necessary.
2. Take time to assess whether the concerns are simply a loss of passion or legitimate concerns about the relationship.
3. Talk about concerns with the right person – share concerns with your partner.
4. Seek advice from a professional, such as a couple’s counselor. Try new things in the relationship.
5. Do things your partner likes to do, and be romantic on purpose.
All relationships take work, time, energy, and targeted effort. It doesn’t matter how cute and cuddly you were at the beginning. It’s how you journey through and work to make the relationship last that counts. The honeymoon will fade away, but working through the stages of the relationship leads to the true love phase – that phase where the couple becomes a team, and their love lasts a lifetime.