Four stages of a relationship

by rodney on December 8, 2013

relationship delvelopment This week, I’ve been thinking about how relationships develop.  Often couples get themselves into trouble when their relationship moves too fast, before they’ve had time to develop. The problem then lies in knowing when the relationship has developed and when it is time to move on to that next stage whether it be marriage, having children, living together or even deciding to have sex.

Some people believe that you should rely on feeling and instinct alone. The problem with this is, relationships evoke all kind of emotions (especially in the beginning) that help to confuse our logic and instinct. This is the main reason why people end up moving too fast too soon.

Other people believe that time is the best indicator on when to let the relationship move forward. The problem here is that each individual and each couple is different; therefore a standard amount of time would not work for everyone.

The best way to determine when to move a relationship onto the next level is by following the four stages of a relationship model. Based on Tuckmans model for group development in 1965, this model applies to the development of relationships. Understanding how relationships develop will help you to know when to take things to that next level.


This is the first stage of the model, when two people meet and first begin seeing each other. People often describe this as the “honeymoon” phase, you first learn about each other, you go out of your way to be nice too and impress each other and you tolerate things that annoy you because you are naturally avoiding conflict. This is a comfortable stage of the relationship.


This second stage is inevitable. This is where two individuals work to become 1 couple. This is when people will try to hold onto values, habits, rituals or other parts of their identity. This can often cause conflict between couples when individual qualities clash. The stage, while unpleasant is nessercary for growth and when couples pass this stage; they will be stronger and closer. This stage needs maturity and a certain amount of compromise and sacrifice on both parts of the relationship. Unfortunately, a lot of couples don’t survive this stage as they are unable adapt.


In this stage, couples have adapted and have begun to exist as a couple and not just two individuals.  They are moving towards the same goals and operate at the same level. In this stage it is still common for couples to have conflict; however, conflict is resolved fairly quickly and without much damage done to the relationship or the individuals feelings. When couples have reached this stage they can begin to contemplate taking their relationship to the next level.


In this stage, couples are operating at a higher level. Couples will seem to be “Intune” or “Insync” with each other. Relationship contentment will be high, conflict will be low and couples will feel like there is a flow to their interaction, like they are in the zone. If couples are contemplating the next level, they can defiantly make that move in this stage.

Couples should remember that moving the relationship to the next level will take your development stage back to the forming stage. However, if you have moved through the stages before, you will be able to move through them more easily. If you are having trouble developing your relationship, you should consider seeking professional help.

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