3 Stages Of Relationships Which Couples Must Go Through

The 3 Stages Of Relationships And How To Pass Through ThemIf you want to enjoy lasting love, you must be ready to pass through 3 Stages Of Relationships – which all couples go through. This psychology is helpful in dating, marriage and divorce. 

Note: The following is an excerpt from my groundbreaking digital program, The Broken Heart Recovery Online Course – which you can explore here!  

If after a divorce or break up, you’re tempted to rush back into a new serious relationship – keep in mind the following.

A love relationship goes through 3 stages:

1. Expansive Stage

2. Contraction Stage

3. Resolution Stage

You need to take your time getting to know someone – so you can more fully understand how well you and your partner can handle all 3 out of 3 of these different love phases.

It’s only after you’ve experienced all 3 love relationship stages together, that you can truly know how compatible you are as a couple.

Psychologist Barry Dym explains: “It doesn’t matter if it’s your first or second marriage, if you’re young or old, or what you’ve learned in between relationships –  you must still go through the same damn 3 cycles of love before you know if you’re truly compatible with somebody. If you rush into a relationship, then you can’t fully know how compatible you are in all 3 out of 3 of these phases.”

An Explanation of This 3 Stage Relationship Cycle

Note: Dym says that successful couples are those who can fully master that final, challenging third stage.

1. The Expansive Stage of Relationships

The 3 Stages Of Relationships All Couples Go ThroughDym calls the first phase of love the “Expansive Stage of Relationships.”

In many ways, this phase could jokingly be called the “Expensive Stage.”

Basically, this is the phase when you send flowers and dine in pricey French bistros.

  • Each person is a little larger than their normal self.
  • Each person appears far bolder, smarter, more charming.

“We form an implicit contract with our partner in this first Expansive Stage to maintain this high of love,” says Dym. “Ironically, being cynical about love can even help you be more attractive to the opposite sex.

For instance…

A woman who feels the loss of her last relationship might show up as a little cooler – and thereby come off as more independent. The man in pursuit might be attracted because this ‘colder’ woman doesn’t seem so clingy — like his last woman – who was constantly saying to him ‘Why cant you talk more?’  As a result, a ‘false’ love bond can then be formed under these conditions in the Expansive Stage. “

2. The Contraction Stage of Relationships

The 3 Stages Of Relationships All Couples Go ThroughThe 2nd stage Dym describes as the “Contraction Stage of Relationships.”

One might also jokingly call this phase “The Betrayal, Let Down And Sleeping On The Couch Stage.”

In this second stage, when the ‘honeymoon phase’ starts to wane, couples may encounter attachment issues, such as becoming dismissive avoidant in relationships, that could influence the longevity and quality of their connection.

“In this second stage, people pull back into their real skin,” says Dym.”This is when people form defensive patterns and no longer behave as their ‘perfect’ selves. This is when couples start to become furious at each other. I’m always surprised by people’s capacity for shock at this phase – when they start to see one another as imperfect human beings. I mean, he’s sixty and she’s fifty and they’re outraged by each other’s imperfections and changes in behavior.”

3. The Resolution Stage Of Relationships

great sex and the right lies will make people waste years of their lifeDym’s 3rd stage is the “Resolution Stage of Relationships.”

This phase is characterized by compromise, negotiation, perspective, and TDC flowers.

“This stage, though ideal, is not always achieved,” says Dym. “It requires the most skill. It’s when you find a way to communicate during conflicts and find a way to accept and deal with your partner’s imperfections. Even after you make it through this final third phase, you can find yourself recycling the three phases all over again. Hopefully, over time, a couple learns to have an appreciation of the whole cycle.”

This 3rd Stage of Relationships explains why rebound relationships often don’t last.

If a person rebounds quickly into a new relationship, chances are they’re merely spending time in the first “Expansive Stage.”  Unfortunately, this first phase of love  is really only a test to see how good each person can be at “romance.” This first phase doesn’t test how good each person can be at intimacy, communication, compassion, forgiveness and connection.

It’s not until the second and third stages of a love relationship, that you really get to understand how good your partner is at these important core values. As a result, you cannot come to a true understanding of how compatible you are with your partner until you go through Phase 2 and Phase 3 with them.

In particular, the third phase – the  “Resolution Stage” – is most important for a couple to experience. This phase is when couples learn to deal sensitively with each other’s conflicts and face up to their disappointments.

The “Resolution Stage Of Relationships” is when real love truly begins to grow – when love attains its deepest roots.

Unfortunately, “rebound love” does its best growth in the “Expansive Stage” – when its weedy and needy vines of desperation, fear and denial all wrap around our brains – cutting off our ability to think clearly. The “Expansive Phase” is what’s leads us to falsely believe that “Rebound Love” is “True Love” – when it is merely the first phase of a 3 phase cycle.

So, why is there such a  huge pull towards jumping back into love right after a divorce or break up?

We often seek rebound love for some seemingly self-loving reasons.  Mainly, we’re eager to prove to ourselves that we’re capable of change. We seek a rebound relationship in order to trick ourselves into thinking we’re now picking “better” – just because we’re picking “differently” –   but that doesn’t mean that we are picking “smarter.”

Often when it comes to “rebound love,” the pendulum of the heart swings in a completely opposite direction, so we wind up with someone who’s a “reaction” to our ex — as well as a “distraction” from our ex.

The 3 Stages Of Relationships All Couples Go ThroughBasically, often after a divorce or break up, people seek to find a “love replacement,” just simply so they can tell themselves that they’re moving forward.

However,  Dym warns that that if we move forward too quickly –  before we’ve become fully alert to our love lessons – then we can still make some very foolish love choices – just new and different foolish love choices.

Dym says: “We have an internal template of choices for mates. Instead of ‘mom’ we can pick ‘dad ‘ or an ‘uncle’ or ‘our next door neighbor.’ It could still be a dysfunctional choice.”

The solution for finding lasting love?

After a bad break up, it’s good to stay open to finding love. But it’s preferable to make sure you know which of those 3 stages of relationship you and your partner are transitioning through -as you continue to spend time with your new partner.

Again, these 3 stages of a relationship are:

1. Expansive Stage

2. Contraction Stage

3. Resolution Stage

If you’re thinking of re-marrying, make sure you go through all 3 love stages before you re-tie that knot.

The 3 Stages Of Relationships All Couples Go Through“Second marriages are happiest when there’s enough time in between divorce and re-marriage to understand one’s needs,” says Constance Ahrons, PhD, professor of sociology at USC (and author of The Good Divorce).

Constance explains: “Our capacity for learning love lessons depends on how psychologically aware we become about ourselves. We learn the most if we don’t blame the other, but take responsibility for the failure of love.”

In particular, Constance recommends that you make sure you take time to honestly answer the following question before you go rushing into a new relationship:

“How did I contribute to past problems in my last relationship?”

When you can honestly answer the above question, then you’re far more ready to healthfully love again – and far more prepared to deal with the inevitable challenges coming your way in the “Contraction Phase” and “Resolution Phase” of your next love union.

Heal, Grow and Move on From Unhappy Love

If you have suffered the pain of a difficult break up, it’s time to put your energy and time into learning from your mistakes – and getting new tools – so you can successfully create a far happier future.

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