Meeting your lover is only the first stage of dating. Do you know what stage you're in after dating for a month? What about 4 months of dating? When you recognize what stage of dating your relationship is in, you'll understand what is called for or needed in order to move through that stage toward a healthy committed relationship.
Stage One: Meeting
The purpose of stage one is to determine if there is enough chemistry, commonality and interest to warrant dating. For some people, it may take a couple of meetings, perhaps about one month of dating, to determine if they want to date a particular person. What is needed here is to come across as someone who is interesting and fun to be with after dating for a month.
Stage Two: Dating
After two people decide they want to spend time together in a dating context, usually after about 1 month of dating or perhaps 2 months into a relationship, they embark on stage two. Stage two is the romantic stage and usually lasts for two to three months. There's no 3 month rule for dating that says you have to be at this stage, but many couples are. This is what to expect 2 months dating or more:
- During this stage, the two of you want to spend increasing amounts of time together.
- People often describe this stage as feeling physically attracted or infatuated with the other person.
- Because two people are having fun and really attracted to each other, they tend to overlook those cute idiosyncrasies of their partner in order to focus on the strong attraction and the positive feelings.
What is needed during this stage is to understand that without the infatuation stage, a relationship could not move on to the next stage. So if you and your partner are on two different pages with regard to your feelings for each other, it is best for you to be patient and wait for you partner to catch up. Doing this demonstrates to your partner that you are caring, patient and supportive.
Stage Three: Differences
The next stage may occur at the 4 month relationship mark or perhaps come about after dating 5 months. Stage three is where differences between the couple begin coming to the surface. It is also where each partner will decide for his and her self, whether to continue the relationship. What you should expect after 5 months of dating (or so) includes:
- The relationship now focuses on how the two of you work through disagreements, differences of opinions and ideas as well as different approaches to sex, communication and commitment.
- It is also an opportunity to both learn and use problem-solving skills with your partner. Arguing in a relationship is not the problem. The problem arises when couples don't know or use healthy skills to resolve conflict.
- Stage three is also an opportunity to build a deeper relationship with your partner as each of you recognizes that you are loved and accepted for being your true self.
- This is where trust develops in a relationship.
Stage Four: Independence and Interdependence
Once partners learn to deal with their differences, the relationship will progress, often after dating for six months. Stage four is a when the couple learns how to be a couple and still maintain a level of independence within the relationship. For most couples, this stage begins to show up after the couple has been dating for 6 months, although usually longer.
- During this period, the couple begins to incorporate their previous social relationships and interests into the couple relationship.
- For some people the fear of their partner wanting to socialize without them, triggers feelings of insecurity, or fear of an imminent ending to the relationship.
- If the partner with the insecurity does not address his or her own issues, the result may be an unintended break-up.
Stage Five: Healthy Commitment
The relationship moves on to the fifth and final stage. This may be after dating for a year or so. Stage five is where the individuals are willing to make a long term commitment with one another. Having successfully completed the four previous stages, the couple has built a foundation on trust, honesty and integrity. For some, this is marriage. For others, this means being in a monogamous relationship.
Implications for Dating Relationships
All relationships have a natural progression as evidenced by the five stages of dating. The first two to three months in a new relationship are about getting to know a person enough to decide if you want to continue. Why does it take this long to decide? Partly because what we experience when we first meet is attraction. This attraction is surface-level affection otherwise known as infatuation.
Moving Beyond Infatuation
Of course, not every relationship moves beyond infatuation - and infatuation doesn't last very long. When dating one month, expectations aren't the same as they are several months in. Sometime after the three-month mark, the excitement of the relationship slows just a bit. This allows us to begin to take off those rose-colored glasses and determine if there is more to this relationship than a lot of physical attraction.
Deeper Connections Develop
If there is more than a lot of physical attraction, that's when a deeper connection starts to develop. If we feel that the person we're dating shares our values, similar interests and similar views on important issues, we begin to feel a stronger connection that moves us towards wanting to be more emotionally intimate. If there isn't a connection, the couple will break-up at this point. If there is a connection, the couple will naturally move toward dating exclusively.
Stages Are a Natural Progression
Dating goes through stages. If you try to avoid one of the stages, problems may develop in the relationship which may result in you or your partner ending the relationship.