Stages in Interpersonal Relationships

Interpersonal relationship refers to a strong association between individuals sharing common interests and goals.

A sense of trust, loyalty and commitment is essential in a relationship.Individuals need to trust and respect their partners to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts in relationship.

Stages in an interpersonal relationship

It takes time for a relationship to grow and pass the test of time.

There are two possibilities in a relationship:

  1. Possibility - 1: Two people might start a relationship as mere strangers. They get to know each other slowly and become emotionally and mentally attached to their partners gradually. Such relationships often lead to lasting commitments where individuals decide to be with each other until death separates them.

  2. Possibility - 2: Two people might start off well but soon face problems. Troubles in relationship start when people have different opinions, views and fail to reach to a mutually acceptable solution. In such cases individuals decide to move on from a relationship for a fresh start.

According to famous psychologist George Levinger, every relationship goes through following five stages.

  1. First Stage – Acquaintance

    Acquaintance refers to knowing each other. To start relationship individuals need to know each other well.

    Two individuals might meet at some place and instantly hit it off. People feel attracted to each other and decide to enter into a relationship.

    Common friends, social gatherings, same organizations also help people meet, break the ice, get acquainted with each other and start a relationship.

  2. Second Stage – The Build up Stage

    This is the stage when the relationship actually grows. Individuals are no longer strangers and start trusting each other.

    Individuals must be compatible with each other for the relationship to continue for a longer period of time. Individuals with similar interests and backgrounds tend to gel with each other more as compared to individuals from diverse backgrounds and different objectives.

    The build up stage in a relationship is often characterized by two individuals coming close, being passionate and feeling for each other.

  3. Third Stage – Continuation Stage

    This is the stage when relationship blossoms into lasting commitments. It is when people after knowing each other well decide to be in each other’s company and tie the knot.

    Trust and transparency is essential for the charm to stay in relationship forever.

  4. Fourth Stage – Deterioration

    Not all relationships pass through this stage. Lack of compatibility, trust, love and care often lead to misunderstandings and serious troubles in relationship.

    Individuals sometimes find it extremely difficult to adjust with each other and eventually decide to bring their relationship to an end.

    Compromise is an integral part of every relationship.Individuals failing to compromise with each other find it difficult to take the relationship to the next level.

  5. Fifth Stage – The Termination Stage

    The fifth and the last stage is the end of a relationship.

    Relationship terminates due to any of the following reasons

    • Death of any one partner
    • Divorce
    • Separation

An ideal relationship results in lasting commitments and marriages whereas there are some relationships which do start on a positive note but end abruptly.



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