Right now, the checks and balances are well in proportion. You’re generally happy with your relationship as it is, and don’t see any immediate need to change it. You can justify or explain away your differences, and don’t feel there’s a need to take action on the things that upset you just yet. Right now, the good is outweighing the bad.
2. “Escape” fantasies
Sometimes when things get too tense to bear, you begin to think about ending it for good. Doing so seems like a relief more than it does a painful burden. This is the stage where you start to write the pro and con lists –even just in your mind – because the stressors of being with this person are beginning to not seem worth the pleasure and happiness it brings you. This is the stage at which you begin to imagine being alone, or finding someone else, and it seems appealing, not devastating.
People who want to subconsciously end relationships that are simultaneously the comfort zones they are afraid to leave tend to create problems to push the other person away. This is when you become irritated with every little thing they do, your ego won’t allow you to apologize first, or pick your battles. You want them to change, and your standards for their ability to do so are unrealistic.
The disengagement stage is almost like your “practice breakup.” It’s you experimenting with being alone, and seeing how it feels, even if you are still technically together. You hang out in separate rooms. You spend more time on your phones than you do with each other. You are slowly beginning to place your energy into different relationships and other parts of your life. This is usually the point at which your sex life begins to wane.
The realization that you could actually be breaking up begins to hit you. People tend to respond to this in one of a few ways: they become scared, and immediately get indecisive about ending it. Alternatively, they realize what they could potentially lose and do whatever they can to heal the relationship. If neither of these happen, and it’s one of those rare cut-and-dry breakups, the person realizes they have no desire to make amends and that a separation is the solution they are looking for.
6. De- or reconstruction
After the point of surreality, couples either come back together or dissolve for good. This is the point at which you begin de- or reconstruction of your lives together, working to rekindle your spark and merge your lives even deeper, or begin pulling away and developing yourself outside of the partnership, considering the possibility of new relationships and a life alone. During deconstruction many people set out on journeys to “find themselves,” or come to terms with dreams and desires they had been putting aside for the sake of the partnership. Alternatively, it’s also a time that can bond couples closer than ever. Nothing makes you appreciate what you have more than realizing it could be gone soon.