Relationships may be kinship relations, community attachment, association, profession, formalized union, non-formal intimacies, casual relationships, platonic ones, brotherhoods, friendships, or soul mates.
Many fields and theories have tried to describe and distinguish what these relationships are – anthropology, sociology, psychology, and even biology. And more helpful to these studies is the uncovering of the stages of a relationship – how it is formed, developed, even terminated. More importantly, the stages of a relationship determine the course of those people involved in a relationship.
This especially applies practically to hazy relationships or to those that need mending.
The Beginning Stages of a Relationship
These seem to be full of care and mutuality. There is so much shared, new, exciting, so much to be hopeful about.
That is until the energy develops into ‘difference’ pressures, or, an amazing ‘connection.’
The relationship could give off either a disappointing expectation: an ‘I-am-being-used’-complex or a final ‘we’re-not-right-for-each-other’.
If you’re lucky the relationship settles into stability and eventually to a commitment phase. – Yet how so? How are do the stages of a relationship develop either positively or negatively?
Relationships Include a Contact Phase
This is an important stage because it marks all future prospects of a deeper bonding. The ‘initiator’ of a relationship performs or is introduced to an uncertainty reduction – eye contact, open disclosure (often instigated by instinctive “lust” or intense longing).
Also involved in this interaction is the perceptual getting-to-know-you – noticing how each a person reacts, looks at you, pays attention to interactional cues such as nodding and eye-contact; these cues form the foundation of respect and agreement. If this first contact goes well then an invitational-step (courtship) could ensue by encouraging the relationship and further meet-ups.
This could end, if the invited uses avoidance strategies, not exchanging disclosure, responding minimally, and averting eye-contact.
A number of “attraction” factors though could help the contact evolve into a deeper stage – familiarity, proximity, physical comeliness, similarity, reciprocal liking or reward-reinforcement. Then both could engage in involvement (dating) steps through feelers (personal questions and hints), intensifying strategies (introductions to other close relations), and public expression (being seen together and showing affection).
The Commitment Stage
This could be obvious through an intimacy/marital-stage marker – the symbolical exchange of personal belongings or commitment icons – friendship bands or a promise ring – creating “attachment.” After 6-months, the relationship undergoes deterioration (not exactly termination) or ‘honeymoon-stage’ where flaws start to get noticed – the most crucial stage that dictates further stability and commitment in the relationship.
This is a fairly predictable timeline. The six-month marker is the first big hurdle to a longer relationship.
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