Referred to also as the “Reality” Stage or the “Power Struggle” Stage.
This stage is LOADED. There are numerous emotions and experiences of the relationship. Biologically you may feel chemically depleted, an exhaustion likened to a “hang over”. The hormones have subsided and reality shows up. This can be confusing; it’s a very awkward stage.
Annoyances start showing up; what once may have been “cute” is now crazy making.
The differences are now being played up.
The similarities are now being played down.
If resentments weren’t dealt with powerfully and forgiven when they originated then this is the stage where they take root and cause issues in the couple.
There might be some embarrassment from stage 1, when you were fully uninhibited. You may have fed the ego of the other and now see an egotistical side. You may wish you had not done or said some of what you did in that early stage.
Real disagreements can turn into big fights if your demeanor is one that tends to argue, this is where it will show up.
Half of all relationships will end in stage 3. Of the remainder some will be well grounded, continuing through the future stages and cycles. The rest will become STUCK undistinguished creating a future of some or all of the following:
Arguing/Make up sex
A build-up of regret and resentment
Broken agreements and promises
This stage is in fact a very positive stage unless all the signs were ignored or misinterpreted along the way. Some will try to fight for what was never wanted to begin with. Sometimes people fight for it because they want the connection so bad. Generally speaking no one wants to be alone; however the interpretation of loneliness due to not being coupled is a disempowering one. If distinguished, this can be overcome by loving, accepting and healing oneself. This opens the opportunity for many connections, one being a contribution within their families and communities. Creating friendships that last a lifetime in this capacity is satisfying and fulfilling.
Stages 1 through 3 are the period of determination. The friction provided by the couple has you ask yourself, what can I tolerate? What will I tolerate within myself or the couple? What will I heal within my own emotional body? Looking for ANY change in the other is a sure sign that unless I clearly CHOOSE him/her exactly as they are (and how they are not) then our future will be turbulent or silent, both killers of self-expression.
A true acceptance of your own and the others individuality and separateness is critical. When this comes to pass, then the real foundation upon which a mature loving relationship can be based materializes.