Knapp’s Relationship Stages Model

Relationship Stages

I have known Brenda and Daniel for a long time. Brenda has been my childhood friend. Therefore, we are close. She has been married for eight years, but their relationship seems to be hitting the rocks. Brenda is comfortable sharing some details about their relationship stages as well as their experiences in each stage. At the beginning of the relationship, Brenda told me that she realizedDaniel’s interest in her while she was sick, and he checked on her everyday until she was well. Daniel would be the first one to visit in the morning and see her in the evening. After her sickness, they initiated contact and tried to learn more about the other person. Brenda and Daniel had known each other throughout their childhood. After Daniel declared his love and interest in Brenda, their topic of discussion changed, and they enjoyed each other’s company more. The experimenting stage, therefore, took a short while. The relationship went on, and Brenda started sharing and disclosing some personal information to Daniel. At this time, Brenda was in her final year at the university, and all her friends knew that Daniel and her were a pair. Soon, they announced to both parents that they were planning to move in together. At this time, the relationship started experiencing problems because Brenda’s parents were not of the idea of their daughter marrying their neighbor. The problem was that Daniel was not financially stable.

Brenda and Daniel had been in the relationship for about one and a half years. They were not willing to let their parents came between them. One day Daniel came to pick Brenda at her mother’s home, but she was not home yet. Instead, he met the mother. Since he was a very polite man, he talked with Brenda’s mother and assured her that he was willing to go to any length to ensure that Brenda lived a comfortable life. Through his talks, Brenda’s mother was convinced that Daniel would fight to succeed in life. Soon, Brenda and Daniel started living together.

The first two years of living together were full of love, and they established stronger bonds. According to Brenda, this was short-lived because Daniel got a transfer. They would visit each other over the weekends, but it was difficult for Brenda to travel often because they had their first child. During the interview, Brenda said, “I often felt lonely. Daniel left me to handle all issues concerning our child. I felt like a single mother.” According to the Knapp relationship model, they were now in their differentiating stage (Knapp, 2014). If something was not done, uncoupling was likely to begin. Communication, which had been one of the things strengthening their relationship, started decreasing. They had no topic to discuss in depth. At this stage, the couple was not making any new disclosures. “My affection for Daniel was slowly shifting to our baby,” Brenda added. At this point, the couple was in the circumscribing stage.

According to Knapp (2014), Brenda and Daniel were experiencing a value conflict. This is because Brenda believed that if Daniel was interested in holding the family together, he would have sorted a solution to their problem. He would look for a job near home. On the other hand, Daniel loved his career and was afraid to lose it. Their biggest mistake was that they were not communicating their views to each other. By now, they had been together for over seven years. Brenda and Daniel are now in their stagnating period. Only the shadows of their relationship remain. It is now eight years, and after much deliberations, Brenda feels that she would like to salvage their relationship. In the interview, Brenda reflected on their better days, saying, “I never thought that the sparks of the relationships would one day end.”

Saving this relationship, and prevent it from proceeding to the termination stage calls for the efforts of the two parties. Understanding the source of conflict is the initial step and enhancing communication. Couples can date all over again and ignite the fire that was once present in the relationship.


Knapp, M. L. (2014). Knapp’s Relationship Model. The University of Texas.


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