Relationships 101, Part 4: Stages of Relationship

At the beginning of most relationships we get very excited by how much we have in common. This person seems to see life the same way we do, or at least, compatibly. We see a future together! As time goes by and we’ve had a number of conflicts, compatibility can start to feel like a distant memory. Even those “cute” little quirks now grit right under our skin. It can feel like a bait-and-switch. Comedian Chris Rock nailed it when he said that when we first couple up, our representative is dating their representative: We don’t actually meet for a couple years down the line! The thing that makes that really funny is the strong dose of truth in it. Growing in a relationship means progressively sharing more and more of our most unrefined self. It can be terrifying, and sometimes it doesn’t not go well. When I used to teach couples retreats I used a book titled The Five Divorces of a Healthy Marriage , by Harold Straughn. Straughn notes that relationships move in developmental phases just like people do. The transition from one stage to another can feel very threatening. Things are changing. We fear that our love might be dying! In a way, it is. The old way we were doing relationship is dying. It needs to in order to make way for the next, more intimate, more complete phase of love. We can leave the outgrown stage behind and find each other in new ways, or we can leave our partner and start all over again, hitting the same “crisis” each time until we accept the challenge and learn to grow with someone. Navigating this growth requires maturity, self-regulation and excellent conflict resolution skills. Stay tuned to this space for more information in all of these areas! If you are ready to work on a healthier, more vital and fulfilling relationship, fill out the Send a Message form to the right. Let’s talk! ___________ Tiffany Sankofa, MS LCPC is a therapist in practice in Columbia, MD. If you’d like help growing your relationship, go to and contact Tiffany today. It’s time to take your life back!