stages of relationshipWhat are the Three Stages of Relationship and why are they important?

In a previous post I wrote about “The Psychology Of Why We Choose Our Partners” (click here to read it) and the “Imago”, the idealized blueprint for relationship that we carry in our unconscious mind. Imago is Latin for image.

Today I will write about what happens when we find that “Imago Match” and start a relationship with them.  There are three stages in a Love Relationship.  The first one is The Honeymoon Stage, the romantic stage. We’ve all experienced that, haven’t we?

That’s when everything our partner does is perfect, is cute, is adorable.  So cute the way he leaves the toilet seat up and I fall in.  So adorable the way she lost my car keys and I can’t go to work.  We focus on the positive qualities of our partner and ignore the negative ones.

This is because our body is creating some very potent chemicals that are influencing our brains.  It’s God or Nature or Evolution making sure we can stay together long enough to perpetuate the species.

Our brains drug us with neurotransmitters like PEA (phenylethylamine) and oxytocin.  PEA acts like methamphenamine, while oxytocin acts like heroin.  So physiologically speaking, romantic love is a chemical reaction.  Not such a romantic notion though.

With these love hormones and neurotransmitters surging through our bodies, we don’t feel the need to eat, we don’t need to sleep, we want sex all the time.  Literally, we are drugged into a euphoric, elated, exhilarated state.  In Imago, we call romantic love “nature’s anestheisia.”

Eventually we build a tolerance to the drugs flooding our system.  It usually takes 3 months to 2 years (if you’re really “lucky”), and as it wears down we are left in the second stage of relationship: The Power Struggle

Now we begin to see who we’re really with.  And we begin to see those negative qualities in our partner that we previously ignored or didn’t care about.  At this point, many couples can’t handle what they’ve gotten themselves into and they break up.  Others just white-knuckle it and hope it will improve.  Some seek professional help.

Those that break up, generally will find themselves attracted to someone who shares many common characteristics with their previous relationship(s).

And there’s nothing wrong with that, because from an Imago therapist’s perspective, this is supposed to happen.  Conflict is supposed to happen.  It gives us an opportunity to deal with our childhood issues and wounds.  This is nature/God/evolution’s way of giving us an opportunity to grow, to heal ourselves and our partner of our childhood wounds.  Most of us don’t know how to do it, but it IS possible.  There is a natural progression through the three stages of relationship.

As we begin to work out some of these Power Struggle issues, we enter the third stage of relationship, which is called: The Conscious Relationship

Here, we are more at peace with ourselves and our partner.  We are clear about what we want, how to ask for it, and how to be there for our partner as well as ourselves.

And the passion can be even deeper, richer than the honeymoon phase!

For couples that are stuck in the Power Struggle stage, professional support is what I would recommend.  If you could work through the three stages of relationship on your own, I have no doubt that you would have done so by now.  This is the work I do with couples, to help them navigate through the power struggle phase and to create that conscious relationship of their dreams.

Whatever of the stages of relationship you are in, if this makes sense to you and you’d like my support, please feel free to contact me.

I wish you the best,

Dr. Adam Sheck

If you’d like to know more about the three stages of relationship and my work with couples on how to have a successful relationship, please click here to schedule a complimentary 20 minute, “Create A Better Relationship Now!” session by telephone or Skype.