There are 4 predictable stages that couples experience in a dating relationship. At each stage, there is often a decision sometimes more thoughtfully arrived at than others to move forward or to end the relationship.
Some stages take longer than others to go through and some people take much longer at each stage. Dating relationships have to start somewhere.
The initial meeting may take place over the internet, through friends, in a church or social group, at a party or bar or any one of a myriad of many different places. Different arenas for meeting allow for different opportunities to get to know each other and see if there is enough curiosity or interest to take it to the next level which would involve arranging a second or third meeting.
Early attraction often involves the physical attributes of the partner and include things like outward appearance, body type, interests and personality traits.
Couples generally do not have much conflict at this stage of the cycle as each is really trying hard to impress the other person. This stage may last for 3 or 4 months depending on the individuals and their maturity, experience and self-understanding.
For women especially there may also be a desire to figure out where the relationship is headed. Going slowly in making any decisions about a relationship are more likely to be better ones than moving quickly unless it is clear that the relationship is not a good fit.
During this stage of a relationship, hormones are calming down and reality sets in.
Both halves of a couple will notice weaknesses and differences or flaws. Some of those perpetual issues or differences such as free-spending or frugal, neat and orderly or sloppy and disorganized, interested in lots of time together or more involved in outside activities begin to emerge.
At this stage of the relationship, couples will take note of the differences and may even begin to complain or attempt to problem-solve. As intimacy develops between the two people, more self-disclosure emerges, both verbally and nonverbally as couples act in ways that are more like how they are in their daily life.
This is when the big question emerges even more strongly: Pushing for an answer; however, may cause real problems in the relationship. Each person needs to listen to their own inner voice and wisdom.
Open and honest conversations should be happening as couples plan their present and future together. Questions about children, finances, careers, future goals and lifestyle should be discussed more fully.
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Differences are normal and couples will learn about themselves and their relationship as they note how they handle these differences with each other. This is also an important stage for couples to use to evaluate the relationship and their ability to be part of an emotionally intelligent relationship.
Engagements can be broken much more easily and can clearly be a better decision than getting married and divorced. For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the MentalHelp. Our helpline is offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment.
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