“Relationship experts who work with couples in distress know there are stages in relationships,” says Sara Schwarzbaum, L.M.F.T., founder of Couples Counseling Associates in Chicago. “The first stage—the romantic stage—is the one everyone associates with love, but it’s actually only the first one, and it doesn’t last.”
Schwarzbaum says that volatile couples tend to have trouble getting through the next phase of a relationship—when differences appear and things aren’t so perfect anymore.
“That’s generally when problems arise,” she says.
For a lot of couples, that second stage doesn’t begin until they move in together.
That’s when the four major characteristics of “break-up-make-up couples” become more prominent: There’s increasing criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and withdrawal.
And that cycle continues after you and your partner get back together, Schwarzbaum explains.
So how can you successfully break that cycle?