How to Navigate the 5 Stages of a Relationship and Cultivate More Love and Connection

HJ: Relationships are living, breathing things, that evolve and grow just like we do. To expect them to never change or shift is a mistake.  And, in fact, by understanding what phase of the relationship you are in, you can move into deeper states of awareness, connection and love as you let go of insecurities and move into a space of surrender and appreciation.  In this article master relationship coach Shems Heartwell guides you through the stages and what to be aware of in each, helping you to more effortlessly enjoy the presence of your loved one.

– Truth

The 5 Stages Of Relationship: Knowing Where You Are And Where You Want To Be

By Shems Heartwell |


Are all the ups and downs of dancing in relationship leading to something? What does it take to build a foundation for love to blossom?

Although there are no typical couples, every relationship goes through stages of depth and experience. These stages do not always happen in this particular order, however they can be seen as a process of maturing in love and intimacy.

Take a look into the stages below and see where you’ve been, where are now and where you want to be in your relationship.

1. Discovery / Infatuation

“WOW, I just met the love of my life.”

“He is perfect in every way. I want to marry him!”

“I can’t believe we have so much in common, it’s like we have known each other forever.”

“I am so turned on and the sex is amazing!”

“We stay up all night talking and connecting, I cannot wait to see her again.”

Oh, the sweet, delicious mystery of new love. The newness is intoxicating and can often be a syrupy stage of infatuation. It’s so wonderful and so difficult to resist. Hormones and logic rarely coincide, so we find ourselves doing things like checking email dozens of times an hour, not eating, working out with super powers or buying new bedsheets.

The Discovery of new love and Infatuation makes your dopamine levels soar, producing a full-body euphoria that causes humans to seek out sex again and again. Recent brain scan studies show that the brain during peak orgasms is a lot like the brain on heroin. Your brain cannot, biologically, maintain the saturation of good feeling hormones; it will come down 🙁

The infatuation will ebb and flow at different points. The sex will not always be THAT good; it may get better or it may get worse. But a lot of those lovely feelings are that of a first warm dip in the hot springs of falling in love.

Not that we cannot continually access greater depths of love and intimacy as our relationships mature, it just means we must tend the fire more to fuel the flames.

The dance of discovery is pure poetry; love magnified; a revisit to the womb of security. Then the negotiation between security and autonomy, that life-long struggle, crawls in and we begin to land on our own two feet again.

2. Landing In Plain Sight

The landing from that fantastic flight can feel scary, as we see things a lot more clearly. There is a great article in Psychology Today along the lines of, “The day you wake up and say you have married the wrong person is the day that your marriage truly begins.” It means that this is the day where the veil of infatuation lifts and the 20/20 vision of everyday living comes in.

“Wow, she is neurotic.”

“He doesn’t make enough money.”

“Her Breath smells and she does not take care of herself.”

“I didn’t think about him at all yesterday. I hope we are OK.”

The landing can feel light and sweet, or rocky and disturbing. Either way, our feet hit the ground and we begin to see the full spectrum of the other. This is a time when our energy may need to recuperate from so much fascination and expansion. Landing has us come a bit more home to ourself and to find the balance of connection and space. It can be bittersweet, as we begin to notice that the fire is not so hot every night!

3. Getting Buried

This stage happens when all the busyness of life come toppling into the relationship. Work piles up, children slide into first and before you know it, conversations focus on things like who’s doing the laundry, your boss, or the crazy mother-in-law.

During the burying stage, other things—like, um, Life—begin to encroach on your beautiful oasis of a relationship. Burying is not bad; it’s a sign that the relationship is real and weaves into your everyday existence.

The important thing to remember here is to come up to the surface for air. Make it a priority to feed your relational bank account. Take tango lessons, go relive your first date, buy some sex toys, explore fresh and new experiences together. Do something that allows real life to take a break and the gentle, sweet intimacy to resurface, bringing us to the next stage.

4. Resurfacing

Resurfacing is like smelling fresh flowers in spring after a long winter. It is the stage where you turn to your partner, and say to yourself, “Wow. I forgot how hot he is,” or “She is an amazing woman,” or “I love him so much.”

Resurfacing happens when we have faced a big problem together, were tempted outside of the relationship, had couples therapy or an especially good night of sex. Anything can jolt us awake, a death in the family or even a birth.

Here we are riding the big waves of life and our love is growing.

5. Boundless Loving

Here our Love is unshakable even if we chose to move apart. This is what it’s really all about, right? The part where we look across the dinner table, fight over what movie to watch, or go on a magical trip to Hawaii and think, “Oh, I have it really good,” “I’m blessed,” or “I love her more than I could ever imagine.”

True love blossoms year after year. We accept all of our partners strengths and faults. We know how to ask for what we want and how to feed our love with the deepest appreciation. We don’t hesitate to give and we have a great capacity to receive on every level of our being; emotionally, sexually and spiritually.

Boundless love is a fire that has been so well tended that the logs on it will burn for a very long time. It does not always mean we will stay together. It means our love and care for the other has matured into a love that is beyond time, space and circumstances.

Enjoy The Dance Wherever You Are

We are growing and evolving whether we know it or not. Life happens so fast and we don’t Always get to steer the ship, especially in relationship. However, we do get to learn how to love and be loved more and more. In every stage of relationship we have the opportunity to make more peace with ourself and in turn with our beloveds. The peace we make through our struggles and loving sends out waves to the world around us. What better way is there to beautify this world than trusting the process along the way to Boundless Love?

Shems Heartwell is a certified relationship coach and breathwork specialist residing in Hawaii. He has been a student of qigong and yoga for the past 18 years, during which he has studied with numerous teachers, mentors, and spiritual guides. Shems is committed to being a catalyst for transformation and dedicates his work to helping individuals awaken to their powerful innate abilities to be the same. Visit his website at:

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