You may feel like you should already be at the final stage in a relationship when you are actually in a healthy place and growing organically.
One of the worst things that happen in a relationship is the expectation of where you should be in your relationship.
This usually leads to the couple jumping stages and “moving too fast.”
Now, you find out too late that you are committed to an incompatible person.
A good understanding of these distinct stages allows you to go through them at a pace that gives you the time to truly understand if your partner is a good match for you.
What are the 5 dating stages of a relationship?
When a relationship evolves from two people getting to know each other to two people who are committed to each other, there are usually five stages.
Skipping any of these stages can lead to relationship problems down the road.
The stage of dating is where you get to know each other.
You learn about likes, dislikes, interests, and values.
Are you still attracted to this person after having intellectual conversations and learning more about them?
Don’t get dating confused with being in a relationship. A couple of good dates don’t necessarily mean this is the person for you.
It’s important to understand that in the dating stage, the other person is going to be on their “best behavior.”
This is the stage where you want to be careful not to move too fast.
You don’t want to get too attached too quickly.
This first stage should be approached simply as the discovery phase.
You should have an understanding of what you are looking for in a relationship, and you should know what your deal breakers are.
You should also be aware that the other person is probably doing the same thing.
Dating stage problems often occur when one person wants to move on to the next stage before the other person is ready.
This stage is also considered the attraction stage since it is when physical attraction and sexual tension are at their highest.
You likely don’t have a lot more to go on than physical attraction, and this is where a lot of consideration is placed when going on dates.
How do you act in the dating phase?
In this stage, you want to find a healthy balance of sharing. The goal is to find some basic information about the other person to understand who they are but not overshare to the point where it feels like an interrogation.
You also want to be careful not to come on too strong.
In the simplest terms, especially on the first date, do you enjoy spending time with this person.
If the answer is no, move on.
The goal in the dating stage is to have fun while getting to know each other and testing the waters to see if there is compatibility.
How long should the dating stage last?
This stage can last a couple of dates to a couple of years, depending on the readiness of both parties.
The most significant mistake people make in this stage is getting too emotionally attached too quickly and jumping into a commitment before they are ready.
If you want the relationship to progress, you need to be on the same page about your intentions and what you are looking for.
The talk about the future should come organically; if it doesn’t, it might be a sign that one of you isn’t ready to move on to the next stage.
If you are both clear about what you want, the dating stage shouldn’t last too long if you are both on the same page.
The second stage is the romance stage. This stage is where you put forth the effort to make your partner feel special.
You might do things like:
- Buy them flowers or gifts
- Do things that are special to them
- Write them love notes or cards
- Make them breakfast in bed
- Pick up the slack around the house so they can have a break
- Do something that is out of your comfort zone to make them happy
The romance stage is where you are still getting to know each other, but you are also starting to build a foundation for a future together.
Problems in the romance stage often occur when one person starts to take the other person for granted.
This is where you learn more about who you are dating on a deeper, more personal level, where you begin to break the physical touch barrier and open up emotionally.
The biggest mistake people make in this stage is assuming that because you are having a good time and spending a lot of time together, you overlook clear signs that the other person is not suitable for you.
You don’t want to ignore your gut feeling because it often tells you something important about the relationship.
How long should the romance stage last?
The romance stage can last from a few months to a few years. A lot of issues arise in romantic relationships because, at this point, there is a lot of effort and time put into making the other person feel special.
The issue comes in when you make it to the later stages, and the same effort is not put in after the romance stage.
Early on in the romance stage, things are still fun and exciting. Communicate what you appreciate the most, so the person you are dating understands what’s important to you.
If both partners feel the same way and are on the same page, the romance stage can last indefinitely.
The third stage is the intimacy stage. In this stage, physical intimacy is now on the table.
This is where you might start to:
- Experiment with different types of physical touch
- Spend more time naked around each other
- Spend hours engaging in pillow talk
- Get more comfortable being physically close to each other
The biggest mistake people make in this stage is assuming that sex is the only way to be intimate with someone.
Intimacy goes beyond sex. It’s about being vulnerable and sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with someone.
It’s about feeling safe and secure enough to let your guard down and truly be yourself around someone.
If you want the relationship to progress, it’s important to be able to be intimate with your partner on a non-physical level as well.
The third stage is also considered to be the uncertainty stage.
By this time, you know a person well enough to know their quirks and little things that could make you fall in love with them.
You’ve also started to notice the things that bother you. This stage can be full of excitement and adventure, but it can also be frustrating at times because you are still getting to know each other.
Problems in this stage often occur when one person starts to put more pressure on the relationship than the other.
One person might start to feel like they are ready for a more serious commitment while the other person is still enjoying the freedom of being single.
It’s important to communicate your feelings and expectations with each other to avoid any misunderstandings.
The biggest mistake people make in this stage is assuming their partner feels the same way they do.
Just because you are feeling a certain way doesn’t mean your partner is too. So it’s important to have an honest conversation about where you see the relationship going.
How long should the intimacy stage last?
The intimacy stage should last throughout your relationship. Maintaining intimacy with your partner is important even as you progress through the other stages.
If you find that your relationship is lacking in intimacy, it might be a sign that one or both of you are not ready for the next stage.
The fourth stage is the relationship stage. This is where you transition from being a couple to becoming a team in an exclusive relationship.
This is where you might:
- Become each other’s primary support system
- Work together to overcome obstacles
- Celebrate your successes together
- Make long-term plans for your future
- Start to think of yourselves as a unit
In this stage, it’s important to remember that you are now a team. You are in this together and need to work together to make things work.
No relationship is perfect, and there will be times when you will face challenges. How you handle those challenges will determine whether or not your relationship will succeed.
This stage is also known as the honeymoon phase since things are still fresh, and you haven’t likely had to deal with struggles yet.
It’s important to enjoy this phase while it lasts but be aware that it won’t last forever.
This is where you start to shape how you both will function as a couple. Again, it’s important to be on the same page with each other in this stage so that you can avoid any conflict later on.
The biggest mistake people make in this stage is taking one partner for granted.
Just because things are going well doesn’t mean you can stop putting in the effort. On the contrary, if you want your relationship to last, you must continue working at it.
Continue to romance each other; if you notice problems, work on them before they become too big, and always communicate with each other.
When two people come together with different backgrounds and perspectives, find a support system that will help you both navigate future challenges,
Find a trusted relationship coach or counselor to help you overcome any relationship challenges that might arise.
Being proactive in this stage will help you create a strong foundation for your relationship.
How long should the relationship stage last?
The relationship stage can last anywhere from a year to several years. It all depends on how ready you both are for a more committed relationship.
If you find that you are constantly fighting or never on the same page, it might be a sign that you are not ready for the next stage.
It’s important to listen to your gut in this stage and to communicate with your partner. If you both feel like you are ready to move on to the next stage, then go for it.
If you are not sure, it’s ok to take things slow. There is no rush to get to the next stage.
The fifth stage is the commitment stage. In this final stage, you make a commitment to the right person to be together forever.
This is where you might:
- Move in together or get married
- Have kids together
- Make joint financial decisions
- Share your lives with each other completely
In this stage, every decision is for the betterment of the family unit. You are now a team and need to work together to make things work.
You will face challenges in this stage, but how you handle those challenges will determine whether or not your relationship will succeed.
At this point, you should have already accepted each other’s differences, and you should be able to work together as a team.
You should have a solid foundation based on the work you put in the relationship phase and understand that the commitment stage doesn’t mean things will get better if the relationship is not going well.
This stage is also known as the stability stage since you are now committing to being together and having someone who has your back when life throws you curve balls.
It’s important to remember that even though this is the final stage, you still need to consider what has worked in every stage and continue to do them.
You can’t take your partner for granted, and you need to continue to communicate with each other. You will have a solid and lasting relationship if you do these things.