Most people think of the stages of dating as something like — meet a potential partner, fall in love, make some sort of commitment, seal the deal, and live happily ever after. Would you agree?
But John Gray, Ph.D., author of “Mars and Venus on a Date,” believes there are actually five very specific stages of dating that we must carefully work through in order to even have a shot at the happily-ever-after scenario.
Stage One: Attraction
In the first stage of dating someone we experience an initial attraction. What we must do during this first stage is make sure that we have the chance to express that attraction to the other and also get to know them. Both partners should put their best foot forward and show an interest in getting to know each other.
Stage Two: Uncertainty
What happens during this very important (and often misunderstood) stage is a shift from feeling attraction to doubting that our partner is right for us. This uncertainty is normal, and we should not be frightened by it. To become uncertain does not necessarily mean that someone is not right for us. Rather, it is definitely normal to suddenly wonder whether you wish to continue in a relationship with that person. Sadly, if we do not understand this stage of dating, it is easy for a man to drift from one partner to another and for a woman to make the mistake of pursing a man more than he is pursuing her.
Stage Three: Exclusivity
In the third stage we feel a desire to be in an exclusive relationship with our partner. We want to give and receive love in a special relationship without any competition. We want to relax and have more quality time with our partner, creating a mutually loving and romantic relationship. But we must be cautious during this stage — careful not to grow so comfortable together that we stop doing all those little things that make our partner feel special. Lots of couples drift apart at this stage without realizing it. They can’t understand what went wrong…
Stage Four: Intimacy
This stage is where we experience real intimacy, letting down our guard and sharing more deeply with our partners. We hope to experience both the best in ourselves and our partner, while also learning to deal with our respective flaws. It helps if we have a good understanding of how men and women react differently to intimacy. Most of us don’t…
Stage Five: Engagement
When we are certain we are with the person we want to make a life commitment to we typically become engaged. This step allows us the opportunity to celebrate our love. This stage can and should be a time of great excitement and promise.
Many couples make the mistake in rushing too quickly through these stages — rushing to seal the deal. They do not understand that progressing carefully and purposefully through these stages is a critical time for gathering positive experiences of sharing together and resolving disagreements and disappointments before jumping into the bigger challenges of being legally committed, establishing a shared home, and having a family.
Read Mars and Venus on a Date by John Gray, Ph.D. to learn more about these stages of dating and why progressing through them carefully is essential to creating the relationship of your dreams.
Gray, John. (1997). Mars and Venus on a Date: A Guide for Navigating the 5 Stages of Dating to Create a Loving and Lasting Relationship. Harper-Collins Publishers.