Relationships can be tricky. If a successful relationship is what you want, start by learning the stages that influence most partnerships.  These stages are often discussed by health professionals, dating experts, and even popular sitcoms. In fact, all sorts of famous TV couples have shown some of these relationship steps.

The hit CBS show, How I Met Your Mother, dedicated an entire episode to learning these platforms—it was named “The Platinum Rule.” The Platinum Rule focuses on reasons why you should never date someone you see on a regular basis, but explains the relationship phases that guide you through the entire dating process.  Check out these distinguished stages of relationships to identify where you are in your current relationship or what to expect in a new relationship:

1. Attraction and Romance

The first stage in any relationship is infatuation. Maybe you just met and have almost everything in common. This is called Attraction, according to Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother.  It involves the initial greeting and interaction leading up to dating.

Next, is actual courtship and going on dates. This is named Bargaining by the How I Met Your Mother gang. The phase is called bargaining because you may or may not be making sacrifices, excuses, or reasoning for why you should continue pursuing the relationship. This is when you put your differences aside and deny any valid reasoning for why it would be a bad idea to get involved with the person.

Submission follows the bargaining period; it’s when you sprout a carefree, “why not?” attitude about hooking up or going on more dates. Giving in and going for it, despite the negatives of the situation, is characteristic of the submission phase, as described by Barney Stinson in How I Met You Mother.

Right after submission, you might realize the great perks of your new relationship. You may be feeling a little head over heels about the perfection that is your love life. Great dates and exciting nights? This is certainly the Perks phase.

2. Disillusionment

Disillusionment will likely follow shortly after the Perks phase of the relationship. The cycle of disillusionment begins when you have that first “oh no” moment with your significant other.  This is the Tipping Point according to How I Met Your Mother—meaning you start to catch on to all the negative aspects and realize you may not be a perfect match.

As the name suggests, you can tip in one direction or the other during the Tipping Point.  This leads to the next step—Purgatory. Now that you realize all the negatives, you can make the call to continue with the relationship or try to get out of it.  Until you decide, both of you are in relationship purgatory.

3. Power Struggle

If you decide you want out of the purgatory phase, next is the Confrontation phase.  Here is when the characteristics recognized in the disillusionment phase intensify and you must make your choice.  To move forward, you will likely have the “I like you, but…” moment, or address the negative aspects of your relationship.  Your significant other may seem like a fighter rather than a lover at this point; this is typical of the power struggle that most relationships experience.

The power struggle could lead to more problems and cause a Fall Out—which is the next phrase coined by the How I Met Your Mother characters.  This happens after a break-up and can cause disappointment or distress.  However, this doesn’t necessarily have to happen if confrontation goes well and both parties decide to continue the relationship into the next chapter.

4. Stability and Commitment

The final phase for most relationships is commitment or Co-existence.  If you decide you want a stable, healthy love for the long haul, it’s also likely you want a commitment to solidify that choice for true partnership.  On the other hand, Co-existence may be the other option.

Co-existence has been described by the How I Met Your Mother characters as the last step of moving on.  It happens when you still have the person in your life, but choose to co-exist rather than be friends or boyfriend and girlfriend.

Use this list to understand your relationship a bit better and identify how your choices will take a relationship in one direction or the other.  In the words of Barney Stinson, keep these tips in mind to make your relationship “legen—wait for it—dary!”

Sophia Jacobbs has always been a storyteller — she loves the way stories dance across our minds and skip into our hearts. In between constructing novels, Sophia remains an avid reader and enthusiastic TV watcher. Follow her on Twitter by clicking here.
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