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3 Stages of a Long Term Relationship


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Old 7th July 2010, 11:08 AM   #1
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3 Stages of a Long Term Relationship

I have been reading on the three stages of any long term relationship and wanted to share:

1.) Limerance or Infatuation: Very chemically induced hormonal rush of attraction, also known as the honeymoon phase: He's perfect, I'm perfect when with him; we're perfect together. Can't wait to see him, touch him, tell him everything about everything and he wants to do the same with me.

2) Disillusionment: He's not perfect, and he no longer thinks I am either; we argue now and bicker over petty differences; bill-paying, laundry, division of duties, kids. This is also the time of increased responsibilities; nurturing and providing for a family and much less couple time. Negotiating or relinquishing power and control comes into play now, as does less sex and less attention as resources are directed towards the clan (kids).

3.) Mature reality-based love; sometimes he can irk me, but I love him anyway. I accept him for who he is, and he accepts me as I am. We no longer feel compelled to prove ourselves "right over each other," or to change each other. We have greater understanding and better communication. We negotiate our differences without resentment. Argue less, if at all. More time, more fun, more nurturing of the relationship on a daily basis. We are again, best friends and feel deeply cherished.

Now, if the affair is the perpetual third date because of the illicit secrecy involved, limerance can last for a very long time, as those hormonal spikes continue.

Many believe erroneously that when they lose this "in love" feeling, they are no longer in love, but they have just moved into stage 2, and many relationships crash and burn on the rocks here.

But those who cope well with stage two, have three to look forward to, and that is suppose to be the absolute best.

What do you think? Do you think having this knowledge ahead of time would help couples?

I do. And I often wonder why there is a lack of education on how to do relationships well.
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Old 7th July 2010, 11:19 AM   #2
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I think this is pretty spot on. I'd also agree that knowledge beforehand would be great...but not a cure-all.

Too many people believe that "my relationship is different"....ergo, immune to phase 2. Given that, even with the knowledge they may not take action to help them work through that phase.

But if more people recognized it, and had decent tools in place to help them work through that...it would be a good thing.

I think that the one thing I'd point out is that even in phase 3, there are still ups and downs. A good example is the "7 year itch" timeframe. Or the "mid-life crisis" points for either spouse. Even outside of those, there are still smaller, less spectacular ups and downs depending on the rythems of the couple.
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Old 7th July 2010, 11:58 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Blindsidedagainalive View Post
It's roughly correct.

I wouldn't break it into 3 stages....it's more fluid.

Also, I would call Stage 2 ......ENLIGHTENMENT.
I agree. Breaking it into three stages makes it seem like once you enter into stage three, you're done with it. And I know that's not what the researchers or Spark is saying. We enter in and out of the stages in cycles, except I don't think Stage One returns ever again with the longterm partner.
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Old 7th July 2010, 12:41 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Owl View Post
I think this is pretty spot on. I'd also agree that knowledge beforehand would be great...but not a cure-all.

Too many people believe that "my relationship is different"....ergo, immune to phase 2. Given that, even with the knowledge they may not take action to help them work through that phase.

I think I would have. Those days where all of a sudden where to place the tv in the room turns into WWIII. Was it really about the tv? Don't think so. It was about exercising power. That's what I would recognize it as now.

But if more people recognized it, and had decent tools in place to help them work through that...it would be a good thing.

I think that the one thing I'd point out is that even in phase 3, there are still ups and downs. A good example is the "7 year itch" timeframe. Or the "mid-life crisis" points for either spouse. Even outside of those, there are still smaller, less spectacular ups and downs depending on the rythems of the couple.
I agree here too. But I wonder with the proper tools in place if we would have handled those ups and downs better. I'd like to think so. And I am sorry we (he) did not do more pre-affair to gather them. I think it would have helped us cope with what psychologists are saying are normal stages.
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Old 7th July 2010, 12:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Blindsidedagainalive View Post
It's roughly correct.

I wouldn't break it into 3 stages....it's more fluid.

Also, I would call Stage 2 ......ENLIGHTENMENT.
Hahahaha!

You are sounding a little jaded to me, BSA!
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Old 7th July 2010, 12:47 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by NoIDidn't View Post
I agree. Breaking it into three stages makes it seem like once you enter into stage three, you're done with it. And I know that's not what the researchers or Spark is saying. We enter in and out of the stages in cycles, except I don't think Stage One returns ever again with the longterm partner.
I don't either. But they say stage three is the best physically because of the increased intimacy and friendship that returns.

How many people, docs, loveshackers just groan when they hear, "She told me she loves me, she just isn't 'in love' with me anymore."

That says a person equates love to the feelings of limerance, which lasts about two years in an every-day relationship. In a "stolen moment" relationship, it can last longer, much longer, because of the anticipation that builds up awaiting the next chance to see your SO.
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Old 7th July 2010, 12:53 PM   #7
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I dunno, Spark. It seems a little jaded to me.
Why jthorne? Why does it seem jaded?

This is coming from studies done on HOW people successfully get to long-term.

Apparently, not weathering stage two, known as disillusionment, but could perhaps better be called, moving toward "real," is where so many relationships divorce or partners seek affairs. And if reading these boards is any indication, it appears it is happening younger and younger in partnerships.

Those who make it to 3, reality-based mature love, have successfully passed stage two.

I guess researchers are trying to figure out who makes it and why.
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Old 7th July 2010, 1:59 PM   #8
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Because I have seen relationships that have lasted for years and years and years where the couple still see the best in each other. They still can't wait to get home at the end of the day just to be able to sit on the couch and hold hands. They call each other their better half. They are a team, they always have each other's back. They still admire each other.
That's me and my wife...at 23 years of marriage.

But...that's still fitting for stage 3 as she'd described it. They're close, they communicate better than ever, and the love is deeper because the understanding is deeper.

That's not the same as the constant toe-tingling, blind-to-faults lust and insanity that stage 1 most often is. Stage 3 is STRONG...not as intense...but stronger in it's own way.
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Old 7th July 2010, 2:36 PM   #9
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Guess you could also call it "reality hits"?

The bottom line is that it's the stage where you first become able to actually see the faults in your spouse. In stage 1, you "know" that they're there, but you really don't "SEE" them, or they're so minimized by your infatuation that they seem insignificant...in stage 2, they suddenly become REAL.

My wife and I were both pretty grounded, so the first steps of stage 2 were easier for us than most.

But where we ran into issues was later in stage 2/early stage 3...where the stresses of trying to deal with 4 late teen kids in the house as well as all the other stresses became hard to deal with.

And again...there's a bit of a cycle back and forth between 2 and 3 I think...it's not all totally crisp and clear...as I said earlier...there's ALWAYS ups and downs in there.
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Old 7th July 2010, 2:59 PM   #10
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If Stage 1 is approached allowing the flow of hormones for the infatuation state but still maintaining a rational approach and seeing their perceived negatives, Stage 2 won't be as dramatic as disillusionment. It will be negotiation, compromise and resolution.
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Old 7th July 2010, 3:26 PM   #11
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I remember stage 1, and we are definitely in stage 3, but I don't think we had a pronounced stage 2.

For one thing, we were together 10 years before having our first child, so we were already in stage 3 at that point. I remember a few more arguments than normal that first year, but attribute that to our first child being very high needs--and we were both burnt out and grouchy. We felt closer than ever, emotionally, even with the arguing, little sex, etc.

I remember a period of about 3 months--maybe 5 years into our relationship (2-3 years married), when I had a feeling of "This is it? I'm never going to kiss another man again???" I was feeling discontent, and wondered if I were missing out (I was also really young--22 or 23 at the time). It passed, and I've not had that "missing out" feeling since. Maybe that was my stage 2?

Otherwise, for 19 years now, he's consistently been my best friend. Even best friends can be irritating sometimes

I'll offer an insight: mature love is about APPRECIATION. A common theme in the infidelity stories I hear (I've not experienced infidelity personally) is one partner taking the other for granted--either the bs or the ws. H and I are deeply interdependent. Each of us deeply appreciates the other being part of the family, being a coparent, being a partner. Sure, there are little things about each of us that the other dislikes, but those things are *tiny* compared to the HUGE qualities that we appreciate in each other. We are just deeply grateful for each day we share with each other, and with our kids
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Old 7th July 2010, 4:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xxoo View Post
I'll offer an insight: mature love is about APPRECIATION. A common theme in the infidelity stories I hear (I've not experienced infidelity personally) is one partner taking the other for granted--either the bs or the ws. H and I are deeply interdependent. Each of us deeply appreciates the other being part of the family, being a coparent, being a partner. Sure, there are little things about each of us that the other dislikes, but those things are *tiny* compared to the HUGE qualities that we appreciate in each other. We are just deeply grateful for each day we share with each other, and with our kids
Well said, xxoo. You and your H are both lucky to have each other.

Last edited by kuma; 7th July 2010 at 4:14 PM..
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Old 7th July 2010, 4:18 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by xxoo View Post
I'll offer an insight: mature love is about APPRECIATION. A common theme in the infidelity stories I hear (I've not experienced infidelity personally) is one partner taking the other for granted--either the bs or the ws. H and I are deeply interdependent. Each of us deeply appreciates the other being part of the family, being a coparent, being a partner. Sure, there are little things about each of us that the other dislikes, but those things are *tiny* compared to the HUGE qualities that we appreciate in each other. We are just deeply grateful for each day we share with each other, and with our kids
Hidden inside appreciation is respect, respect for the other's strengths rather than denigration of their weaknesses.

One aspect of sexual problems within a relationship, is control. Control too much and sexual problems WILL manifest. Don't believe me? Take a look at the "wife or husband won't have sex with me" and you'll find controlling personality types.
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Old 7th July 2010, 4:29 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by threebyfate View Post
Hidden inside appreciation is respect, respect for the other's strengths rather than denigration of their weaknesses.

One aspect of sexual problems within a relationship, is control. Control too much and sexual problems WILL manifest. Don't believe me? Take a look at the "wife or husband won't have sex with me" and you'll find controlling personality types.
That's an interesting observation, if true. My W never refused sex with me the first 4 years we were M'd, even during the first year when she was preggers. It wasn't until after she went back to work (being tired of caring 24x7 for a toddler and having no money -- I didn't "make" her go back to work, she was climbing the walls!) that she first gave me the "don't want sex, don't even like it" speech. I wasn't controlling her, if anything I was less in control because she was outside the home all day (and I didn't have any trust problems with her back then).

Was it because SHE was being controlling that she was no longer willing to have regular sex with me at that point? (Sorry for the T/J, just wanted some more insight on your comment about controlling personality types).

I think anyone who's read my thread wouldn't call me "controlling", and I certainly have tried not to be, but what do I know?
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Old 7th July 2010, 5:01 PM   #15
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That's an interesting observation, if true. My W never refused sex with me the first 4 years we were M'd, even during the first year when she was preggers. It wasn't until after she went back to work (being tired of caring 24x7 for a toddler and having no money -- I didn't "make" her go back to work, she was climbing the walls!) that she first gave me the "don't want sex, don't even like it" speech. I wasn't controlling her, if anything I was less in control because she was outside the home all day (and I didn't have any trust problems with her back then).

Was it because SHE was being controlling that she was no longer willing to have regular sex with me at that point? (Sorry for the T/J, just wanted some more insight on your comment about controlling personality types).

I think anyone who's read my thread wouldn't call me "controlling", and I certainly have tried not to be, but what do I know?
I'd have to read your past to possibly provide more insight. But based on what you've posted above, your wife feels like she's lost control of her life with too many stresses and pressures. If you're pursuing her for sex, she might view it as more weight to bear.

So the question is, how can she regain the control in her life and in what way can you help or at least support her in her search.
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