All relationships have stages. When we meet someone new and begin spending time with them, these stages can seem scary and can inflict doubt. This story will shed some light on the 3 phases of a new relationship to help you feel more comfortable with experiencing them for yourself.
Falling in love and tumbling into a shared life with somebody special is a beautiful, enlightening experience. It’s so common for uncoupled people to feel that all the hardships in their life will ease up when they meet their Number One, and sunshine and roses will bloom forever and ever in their favour.
When we’re single, we don’t always remember the ways that life is different with you’re in love with somebody and living a coupled lifestyle. The truth is that the grass is never greener on the other side of singledom, though neither side of coupling is easier than the other either.
Here are the three stages of a new relationship for former singles to navigate when they fall in love by Laura Smilski:
First Stage: New Relationship Bliss
The first stage in most new relationships is bliss! We are perfect, the other person is perfect, and the relationship just flows. You make time for one another however you can, you communicate with each other constantly, and it just feels easy.
There are no triggers or things the other person does to upset you, the attraction is unreal, and you think, “This is it! I found them! My person. Finally. I can rest.”
This first stage sets a foundation for the relationship and builds connection, but there’s just one small problem: It never seems to last! Does this mean we aren’t meant to stay with that person? Nope. Not at all.
Though it can feel very much like this, it only means that your relationship is changing, and that’s okay. It’s completely natural, and this process of change is what takes us into an even deeper connection if both partners are open to going there.
Second Stage: The Inevitable Turn (When One Person’s Fear Shows Up)
So what exactly is happening when the dreaded, inevitable “shift” happens? You know the one. We feel like the other person is either pulling away or becoming more controlling, our “good morning, have a good day” messages have become less frequent or stopped, and we feel like we are becoming distant from each other.
There’s a big shift when our comfort level eventually builds in a relationship and we let our guard down a bit. This seems to be the perfect time for our fear to kick in.
One day, the “good morning beautiful” message doesn’t show up, and the next week your partner has plans besides spending hours with you on Friday night. Your emotional triggers go crazy, and all of a sudden your past fears of emotional and physical abandonment kick in.
You no longer feel emotionally stable, relaxed, or happy. You feel upset all the time, anxious and taken advantage of, and your mind comes up with a million reasons as to why your treatment wasn’t fair.
You feel like the “crazy, needy person” who wasn’t okay with their partner doing normal things. Was it something you did wrong? Did you expect too much? Were you being completely unreasonable, or did you just have too much baggage?
Most of the time we aren’t aware of what’s really going on; we just notice we feel differently. We might think it’s because our partner’s behaviour has changed, but what’s really going on is that our past has crept into this new relationship.
Our past fears, hurts, and childhood wounds have finally surfaced for more healing, and if we aren’t aware of this, our new, wonderful, blissful relationship begins to feel just like the rest of them: disappointing, suffocating, abandoning, unsupportive, untrustworthy, and unloving.
The appearance of this fear is a natural, necessary step in any relationship, though, and we need to embrace it rather than run away from it. This is when a lot of relationships end, but they don’t have to if both partners want to stay and build on this stage.
Third Stage: Communicating the Fear
We must communicate our fear, whether our new partners are the one who experiences it first or the one who sees the change and doesn’t know why.
You can start the conversations by saying something like “I’ve felt a shift in the energy of our relationship, and I’m feeling anxious about this change. I’m even nervous to talk to you about it because I don’t want to put pressure on you, but I need to communicate what’s going on for me. Can we talk about this a bit?”
This can be challenging if we aren’t aware of what is really going on, but let that shift, that change, that first feeling of doubt be your signal that fear has entered the relationship. And know that it’s okay for it to be there!
Every time I felt upset I had to force myself to bring up my fear of our relationship ending, fear of being abandoned, and fear that we would never connect on a deep level. There is no shame in having fears of your relationship ending, fear of abandonment and fear that you’re not connecting on a deep level — those fears aren’t a sign that your new relationship is doomed.
The fear is there as a message. It’s asking to be listened to and it is a gift necessary for our own growth. When we share our fear, and own that part of us, we’re not blaming the other person. We don’t share our fears to have the other person change, or to have them fix us, but merely to allow our hearts to open up.
By owning our stuff, we are taking care of our own healing, and this is what keeps our past from damaging the relationship in the future. It’s how we clear our past patterns and allow ourselves to move forward in a new and healthy way with someone else.
The best part is that we get to see how our partners handle this as well. Our relationships need this stage and this shift from the easy, wonderful bliss, because without it, our bonds would never grow.
If things are easy all the time, where is the room for true, deep intimacy? How do we learn to truly support our significant others, and ourselves, if we never experience pain, anxiety, anger, or annoyance?
We don’t, and that’s why after years of being with someone, we can feel like we don’t know them. If we’ve remained closed off and worked our hardest to keep things going smoothly, we only know that level. And the truth is there are deeper, richer, more intimate layers to us as humans and to our relationships.
Once you have opened your heart and begun communication around your fear, a small amount of vulnerability has been introduced into the relationship, and there is room for your partner to do the same. There is room for you to grow together.
It’s never too early to begin communicating our fears. If we wait for the problem to just go away, we essentially keep the cycle of anxiety, doubt, and tension going, because our actions, words, and energy reflect our uneasiness in the relationship.
Stay connected to yourself and speak your truth—the whole, messy, amazing truth. Let your partner see the whole you, quirks and all, and enjoy taking your walls down together, brick by brick.