You won’t fully settle into a relationship until you and your partner have passed through three key stages, according to a love expert.
Savannah Gamblin, a self-help psychologist, who shares advice on relationships on her TikTok channel, said when she was younger, her mum pulled her aside and said, “you’ve got to stop holding on to these shit men because it was ‘good in the beginning’.”
“Here’s the thing,” says Gamblin, “you do not understand your relationship until you’ve gone through these three phases.”
The three phases in a new relationship, according to Gamblin:
1. Honeymoon – “We all know that one.”
2. Unravelling – “This is when shit goes down and you start to see those bad habits your partner has and the flaws in the relationship,” says Gamblin. “They’re there, look harder.”
3. Realisation – “This is when you’re like, ‘Oh shit, this is what I’m dealing with’. Often times, during this realisation stage, we go back to the honeymoon stage and we’re like, ‘but that’s what it’s like!’ No, that’s an illusion. Realisation stage is where you keep having the same fight and the same problems arise and we need to learn how to get ourselves out of that.”
Makes sense, doesn’t it? So, what does a relationships expert think of it?
Holly Roberts, a Relate-trained couples counsellor, said generally, she agrees with the three phases – but, she adds, they are “overly simplified” and “don’t allow for any nuances and variations which are present in all relationships”.
Most relationships have a honeymoon stage, says Roberts, but the unravelling and realisation stages may never come for some people.
“Many of us don’t want to see the negative aspects of our relationships, so we may gloss over the issues or blame ourselves for what’s going wrong,” she says. “Difficult and unhelpful behaviours may well be there, but the impact might not be obvious, or we choose to ignore the effect this has on us.
“There is probably a ‘just getting on with it’ relationship phase that most of us are in most of the time,” she adds.
Even if we get to the realisation phase, we may not have a clue about what to do once we’re in it, says Roberts. “There’s only so much change we can expect our partners to make. Perhaps it’s useful to start looking at ourselves and be curious about how much we contribute to the issues we have in our relationships and what we can do to address this,” she says.
It’s important to remember difficulties in relationships are to be expected – there is no perfect relationship.
“The key thing to take out of Savannah’s idea is all about having a greater awareness about your behaviour and the behaviour of your partner,” adds Roberts. “Understanding more about why you both do what you do is important to be able to find ways to make changes and create a happy relationship.”