It’s not exactly rocket science that relationships aren’t super easy. You meet a great guy, you fall for him more and more every day, you want to be with him all the time, and then boom, you’re officially in super deep. You could never live without him, or at least that’s how you feel. But then things take a turn for, well, not necessarily the worse, but not really for the better, either. You realize that he’s not as 100 percent perfect as you originally thought that he was and you guys have to work out some issues big and small. Thankfully, you can get tons of help and advice since even though you’re a unique human being and so is your boyfriend and so is your relationship, everyone goes through very similar struggles when it comes to love and war. Here are the 16 stages of a relationship and how to survive them.
16The Beginning Stage
So you’ve met this amazing, insanely ridiculously wonderful guy and you can’t even believe your good luck. He’s pretty much perfection in a human being and you would rather not even think about how this is even possible because you don’t want to jinx anything. You’re doing everything that girls in new relationships do. You’re talking about him 24/7. You’re gossiping with your girlfriends over wine and fries and joking about your wedding day. You’re stalking him on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and hoping that he never finds out how much time you honestly spend on his social media feeds. It’s the beginning stage of the relationship, and you’re feeling like a crazy person. But you can get over this and still keep him and not scare him away. Just calm down, slow your roll and remember that things don’t end up working out, you will be 100 percent fine. Since you did attract him, you can totally reel in another guy. Just remember that.
15The Netflix And Chill Stage
It’s kind of hilarious/ridiculous that this counts as a relationship stage nowadays but here we are. It’s 2016 and we definitely Netflix and Chill when we first meet someone. In case you’ve been living under a massive rock, you probably know this means you hook up while pretending to watch a movie or TV show or whatever. But this is bad news for budding relationships because it can be completely impossible to know whether he just wants something casual or he wants something real. The only way to get the answers that you want is to make sure you’re planning dates as well. Maybe you can grab dinner or drinks somewhere before you Netflix and Chill. It’s an easy strategy but it honesty works, because you’ll figure out his intentions really quickly.
14The Honeymoon Period
This is about three to six months of a new relationship, and while the time period is definitely debateable, let’s go with three months. The honeymoon period is when you and your guy can’t keep your hands off each other. You make out in public and aren’t even ashamed because you just want to kiss him 24/7. He seems perfect and you can’t see a single flaw in him or in your growing relationship. You have a connection like nothing else and you can’t imagine life without him. You literally think you would die without him. Okay, so calm down. You honestly would be ale to survive without him. It’s hard right now because your hormones are going insane and you are so happy, but you need to remember that he does have flaws because, well, everyone does.
13The 3-Month Growing Pains
This is when things get really crappy. You’re realizing your new boyfriend has tons of flaws, and what’s more, you’re not even sure if you can deal with them. You’re starting to get annoyed by every little thing he does. And these things aren’t even such a big deal, especially since just a week or so ago they didn’t even bother you at all. You honestly don’t know what to do. Well, here’s a tip: you can totally survive this time period. It’s really not as big a deal as you think it is. All you have to do is talk it out. When he’s annoying you, tell him. It’s okay if it’s a silly thing that bugs you because he’ll laugh and you’ll laugh and suddenly it won’t seem so serious at all.
12The Making Things Official
Okay, what a tricky, tricky time. You don’t want to scare him away when you’re having The Talk but although this is a horror story of a conversation, you absolutely need to make it happen. You need to get on the same page and make sure you both want the same kind of relationship. So go ahead, get honest, dig deep, and talk for hours. It’s okay if you bring some alcohol into the whole thing — you’ll both be much happier and really appreciate the liquid help/distraction/courage. Make sure he doesn’t feel pressured, and make sure that you’re proving to him that you’re not going to be a stereotypical annoying girlfriend who is his “ball and chain” or whatever guys worry about. It’s important to tell him that yeah, you like him, but you have your own life and stuff going on and you’re not going to just focus on him 100 percent of the time.
11The Jealous Stage
At some point, you start getting suspicious of your BF, and that feeling turns into jealousy. You don’t want to be a green-eyed monster. It’s not attractive, and honestly, who looks good in green? Yeah, not many people. But you don’t have to go through his phone and laptop and totally freak him out, and no, he’s not going to dump you. So just go ahead and talk to him about whatever is bothering you. Say his hot female co-worker is getting under your skin, or that you’re not comfortable with him chatting with his ex-girlfriend on Facebook messenger when he’s at work. Honestly, with good communication, you can survive anything.
10The Meeting Each Other’s Friends Stage
This is super important, and maybe even more important than meeting each other’s parents and siblings and whoever else. That’s because if you can’t stand your boyfriend’s best friend and have to see him all the time, or vice versa, well, you’re going to have trouble on your hands. You might not think it’s a big deal and that you shouldn’t care about who your BF surrounds himself with, but friends say a lot about you. You want to know if he hangs out with total weirdos and jerks. You really do.
9The Meeting Each Other’s Families Stage
This is an awkward time in your new love story, no doubt about it. You want his family to like you, and you really want your own parents and relatives to like him as much as you like him, too. And, yeah, you’re pretty much all about his mom. You really, really want his mom to like you. You’re thinking of her like your future mother-in-law so you’re thinking that her approval (or disapproval – yikes!) is going to pretty much make or break your new relationship. You’re super nervous because you’re trying to make a good impression on his mom, but you also want the rest of his family to love you… and you want your own family to love him, too. It’s a lot of pressure, but the best way to get through this rough stage? Let whatever happens, happen. Honestly, that’s the only way to ensure your relationship is meant to be. If he totally embarrasses you, then isn’t that a good sign that he’s not meant for you, and wouldn’t you rather know now?
8The Merging Your Lives Stage
At this point, you’re both in a pretty good place and you’re feeling pretty good about things. You have bonded, figured out each other’s weird quirks and likes and dislikes. But the struggle comes when you’re basically merging two lives into one. You only have so much free time outside of work, and you have to figure out how to make things a priority while still making each other happy. What if your big work event is on the same evening as his mom’s birthday party? Or vice versa? You have to be able to talk this stuff out together and come up with a solution that works for both of you. Never decide things alone and then tell him, because that’s just going to end in a big argument and you’ll never find a real solution.
7The First Vacation
This is such a fun time in your new relationship, but also possibly the scariest. You’re going on a trip together. For the very, very first time. First of all, you can survive this, so stop crying and stop freaking out to your best friend — she has a life already and doesn’t really need to hear it. Remember how lucky you are to have a guy in your life that you adore and that even wants to travel with you. Right. Now that you’ve reminded yourself to stop whining, it’s time to make sure that you both aren’t compromising too much. The problem is that couples often want to make each other happy since it’s pretty much a disaster if that’s not happening. but when it comes to travel, if you hate the water and love city vacations where you walk around for a million hours but he wants to be a beach bum for a week, you might have a problem. Maybe do a combo of those two things with a road trip in the summer where you spend half exploring and the other half chilling out. Then you’re both having your dream vacation, but together.
6The First Event That You Host Together
Your birthday. His birthday. A dinner party for your closest friends. A work bonding experience. Christmas. A Halloween party. Your sister or cousin’s baby shower. Your friend’s engagement shower. Whatever the occasion, you and your boyfriend are hosting something together for the very first time, and that takes a bit of planning and organizational skills. You can get through it, though, even if it doesn’t feel like it at first. The trick is talking about what you expect. He might just want people to have fun, but you might want games or something a bit more structured. You might want a theme with party favors and specific food, he might not care a lot. So have a chat and figure it out. It’s better than planning two different parties separately and then having a screaming match in front of your nearest and dearest, right?
5The Co-Habitation Stage
Yay! You guys are moving in together. That is so totally exciting. Don’t you feel like the luckiest girl in the world? No? Why, because living with another human being is hard? Oh yeah. That’s true. Don’t break up as soon as you shack up together. Have a chore board or notebook or whatever you want. Seriously. It sounds nuts but if you agree to divide up the housework and errands, you’re going to save your relationship. What would you rather do on your evenings and weekends, fight over whose turn it is to take out the trash and clean the bathroom… or snuggle on the couch watching Netflix? Yeah. We thought so. You will appreciate being organized so your living space is not a total disaster zone, because as we all know, guys can be pretty messy. Sorry but it’s just the honest truth.
4The 7 Year Itch
Okay so it doesn’t have to be seven years for this weird stage to show its ugly, unpleasant and super unwelcome face. This basically means that you both love each other but things are getting a little boring or redundant. You hate to even admit that because you care about him so much. But at this moment in your relationship, you start wondering what else is out there, and you can’t help it, you’re starting to be attracted to other guys. Ugh. You really don’t want to be but here you are. The funny thing is, all you have to do is tell your guy that this is happening and he’ll laugh because 100 percent, he’s checking out other girls too. This will just cement your bond even further because you’ll laugh about it and find other ways to connect emotionally, and, well, in other ways. And before you know it, things will be back to normal. Or even better than before.
3The Awkward Stage
This is when things get tricky. This is the stage that will totally make or break you and your guy. Are you going to get engaged and go all in? Or are you going to break up because it was either get married or go your separate ways forever? This is an awkward stage for sure, and honestly, it won’t be tons of fun. You can survive it, though. Just have a serious conversation with your significant other and tell him exactly how you feel. Don’t leave anything out. Tell him it’s okay if you are both baring your souls here and even offending each other because the truth about how you each feel about your collective future is just going to come out eventually. It may as well be now before there’s a ring on your finger.
2The Engagement Period
This is when things get super serious, and it’s also when you have to have a sense of humor. You really do. When you get engaged, life seems all rainbows and red roses and butterflies and beautiful sunsets. You almost hear birds chirping when you walk down the street. You almost see colors brighter and just enjoy every moment so much more. You’re insanely happy, but that’s when you have to chill out and learn to laugh a bit more, especially with your new fiance. Why? Because if you take your wedding planning too seriously, it’s going to spell the end of your happy relationship. So make sure you don’t ruin the bond that you worked so hard to build and it’s time to have more fun with him in the meantime.
1The Post-Marriage Period
Okay. So you guys are officially husband and wife. Life is magical and wonderful… until it’s not. People usually say the first year of marriage is super hard, but others often say that you don’t really feel all that different. Being married is apparently the exact same as not being married. Well, you might feel different, and you might start to blame your now husband for getting you guys into a routine or a rut, even though it takes two to tango. So make sure that once you walk down the aisle and throw the bouquet in the air so someone else can catch it and hopefully get married soon, you’re not throwing away your own happiness by putting too much pressure on the guy that you are supposed to love. Make sure that you are planning interesting and new dates and that you two are experiencing things together, like taking a wine class, a cooking class or exploring new areas of where you live every weekend. Your relationship will thank you.