All relationships go through stages as they move from “just met” to “just married” and beyond. The stages can be fluid; their starting and endpoints blurry, and sometimes couples move two steps back before springing forward. Wondering what stage your same-sex relationship is in? Here is an idea of what you can expect as you deepen your love connection with your partner.
1. The Beginning, or Infatuation
You’ve met someone that you really click with. You’ve been on a couple of dates and you find yourself thinking about them all the time. You are floating around on cloud nine, with love as your drug. These feelings are the result of the rush of endorphins, the feel-good hormone, that are bathing your brain as you fall in love. You and your same-sex partner sense a great emotional and sexual attraction to each other, seeing only all the wonderful things in the other. Nothing is annoying yet.
2. Take Off, Still seeing all the good things, but gaining more perspective on your partner
In this stage, you shift from pure infatuation to a more-reasonable and less-all-consuming feeling of emotional and sexual attachment. You spend long evenings talking together, sharing stories as you get to know each other outside of the bedroom. You and your partner are eager to let the other know about what makes you who you are: your family, your past relationships and what you learned from them, you’re coming out and experience as a gay person. This is the stage where you begin constructing the framework that will support your relationship.
3. Back to earth: letting in some of the less-pleasant life realities
You’ve been an item for a couple of months. You know this is love. And because you’ve started to build a foundation of trust, you are able to let in some of those little annoyances that are normal in any relationship. After months of showing only your “best” side, now it is safe to reveal any imperfections (and everyone has these) without fear that these will drive your partner away. In a healthy relationship, this is an important stage as it allows you to see the whole human that is your love-interest. This is also the stage where conflicts will crop up. How you handle these will be an important sign of how strong this relationship truly is. This stage is where you make it or break it. It is a critical one in your gay relationship, so don’t try to move through it without paying attention to what is going on.
4. Cruising speed: Your relationship is solid
At this stage, you’ve got several months behind you and you are both committed to your relationship. Your gestures are loving and kind, reminding your partner that they are important to you. You may also feel free, however, to be a little less attentive towards your partner because you know the relationship can handle it. You might arrive late to your date night dinner because your work kept you at the office, or neglect to send love texts as much as you did during the infatuation stage. You are feeling comfortable with each other and know that these small things aren’t enough to tear you apart. This is the stage where you allow yourselves to show each other who you really are, and are no longer in the “courting” stage of the relationship.
5. It’s All Good, the happy stage
You both sense you are a perfect match. You feel truly connected to your partner, safe and secure. This is the stage where you begin thinking of moving towards a more formal commitment. If gay marriage is legal where you live, you make plans to tie the knot. You sense that making your union official is important and you want to share your joy with your friends and family.
6. Living the routine: A few years have passed
You’ve been a couple for several years now and settled into a routine. You may even begin to feel a little bored, like the spark has gone out of your relationship. Are you taking each other for granted? Your mind strays to better times with other people, and you wonder how things would have turned out if you had stayed with this or that person. It’s not that you have any real animosity towards your current partner, but you sense that things could be better.
This is a vital stage in your relationship, and one that requires open communication in order to move through it successfully. Is your partner feeling the same thing? Can you think of some ways to improve your mutual level of happiness? Is your current life view related to the relationship, or is it something else? This is a time where you might want to invest some effort into examining your own personal goals and how they fit in with your relationship goals. In this stage of your relationship, things can go a couple of ways: you either work on keeping the relationship a loving one in words and in acts, or you decide that you need some breathing room and may take a break from the relationship to allow yourselves time to decide if recommitting is something that you want to invest in. This is the stage where many couples split.
If you are just starting out in your gay relationship, know that your situation is unique and may not follow these stages exactly. And remember that you have a hand in how your love life takes shape. If you have found “the one” and you both wish to see what kind of magic you can make together in the long term, these stages will give you an idea of what to expect. But ultimately, you create your own story, and hopefully that story will have a happy ending.