The relationship roller coasterRiding high or looking for the exit? Check out which stage you’re on.

You meet someone, you fall in love and you ride off into the sunset together, to live happily ever after…that’s how it’s supposed to work, right? Maybe in fairytales. In real life, however, things often go a little different. Your relationship may start off like one, but the reality is that real-life relationships move through different stages, each with their own challenges (and benefits!).

Stage 1: Falling in Love

You notice her across the crowded bar and you just know she’s The One (or at least, the one you’re taking home tonight).  Or perhaps you’ve known her for years and suddenly your best friend looks… well, let’s say she no longer looks like a friend. Whether it’s a sudden thing or something that has grown over time, falling in love is exciting, intense, passionate and a lot of fun. As long as the feelings are mutual, this first stage is great. You go out on dates, get to know each other, have fun in the bedroom and enjoy showing up with a +1.

Stage 2: The Honeymoon Phase aka. let’s U-HAUL!

Yes, it’s a bit of a stereotype, but most lesbians quickly move on from “Hey, I’ve just met you, but here’s my number, so call me ma-“ – ahem, I mean, the Falling in Love stage, to “Let’s U-HAUL!”. It’s worthwhile holding off on packing those boxes just yet though, because the Honeymoon Phase is an important part of your relationship. Because you’ll probably want to spend AS MUCH time with each other as possible, the Honeymoon Phase allows you to get to know each other better. Keep in mind though that you’re probably seeing her through rose-coloured glasses (and vice versa), which makes this stage of the relationship smooth sailing, but may not paint an accurate picture of how compatible you two really are. Enjoy this stage for as long as possible, because it’ll create some of the best early memories of your relationship.

Stage 3: Routine

Of course, we all know that honeymoons have to end sooner or later. When you return to everyday life, reality kicks in. Whether you’ve moved in together or have just naturally reached this point in your relationship, stage 3 is all about routine. It’s also the make-or-break stage. Without those rose-coloured glasses, suddenly the little things that you thought were cute when you were first met are now starting to irritate you. You’re learning how to be a part of each other’s lives, and that can take some adjusting. Now, waking up in the mornings isn’t a lazy affair followed by Sunday brunch in bed, but a quick peck on the lips before running out the door because you’re late for work. And although you still smile when you think about the date you went on last night, you had to skip the post-dinner drinks at the jazz bar because the alarm was set for 6AM. But routine’s not all bad. Routine means coming home to her, cooking dinner together, talking about each other’s day, and cuddling up on the lounge watching TV. Routine means being able to depend on each other, and knowing the other will be there no matter what. It means working out your differences, rather than simply skirting around them.

For many couples, this is the stage where you really get to know each other, and where true love enters the picture.

Try to keep things exciting and fresh by breaking the routine every now and then. Go on a spontaneous road trip, take her out to a romantic dinner on a Wednesday night, or book a few days in a hotel for some R&R. Whatever it is, don’t get stuck doing the same thing day in, day out. Take some time out to create new memories and ensure you continue to appreciate what you have together.

Stage 4: Commitment

Once you’ve safely made it through the routine stage, the “C” word may start popping up. “C” for “commitment,” of course (geez, you lot have dirty minds!). But how do lesbians commit in a country where the epitome of commitment – marriage – is reserved only for the lucky (read: straight) few? I strongly believe that commitment has very little to do with a legal document or a ring on your finger. Commitment is about deciding to spend the rest of your lives together – no matter what. Commitment means accepting that this will be the only person for you, forever – and being okay with that. So whether you move to a different country and get legally married, enter a civil union, simply register your relationship or just say “You’re it for me, baby!”, commitment is about you and her, facing the world together.

Hey, maybe fairytales do come true!