As you go through each of the stages of dating, it’s easy to get swept up in the emotion and drama of it all, but it’s just as important to keep your feet on the ground. The key to handling the early stages of dating and relationship-building like a pro is actually quite simple – it’s you. It’s about having the right mindset when it comes to dating and trusting your intuition to ensure you attract the love you deserve. Although everyone’s story is different and there is no timeline on love, there are 6 main stages of a relationship that most couples go through.
Relationship Stage 1: Meeting
We meet people all the time. In the coffee shop, on the street, over a dating app; our lives are full of interactions. While there’s no set way to handle meeting someone, you can be a bit proactive in the meantime. It’s useful to keep in mind what you’re looking for in a partner. Ask yourself questions like: “How do I want to be treated? What kind of relationship do I want? What qualities am I looking for?”. Being aware of these things means that you’ll know who’s worth investing time in and who’s not. So when you meet someone, don’t compromise on the important things, but do keep your mind open – you never know who might walk into your life.
Relationship Stage 2: Dating
The early stages of dating are by far the most exciting, with all the mystery and sexual tension in the air. This time is full of fancy dinners, romantic getaways and great sex, but as you get to know each other, have fun, and navigate the first relationship milestones, it’s also important to stay true to yourself. Be yourself, set clear boundaries and keep yourself safe. It’s all too easy to lie at this stage of a relationship, and if you’re dating someone with bad intentions, they’ll use this time to gain your trust and take advantage of you.
So listen to your intuition, and watch out for red flags. If things don’t quite add up or feel right, don’t be afraid to speak up and remove yourself from the situation. The dating stage should be fun, carefree and exciting – so don’t accept anything less.
Relation Stage 3: Seeing Each Other
This is the epitome of the modern dating dilemma. The dreaded situationship. You’ve established you like each other, you see each other regularly and things feel like a relationship. But you haven’t had the “talk” yet. So, are you technically together or not? Thus, this is often the most confusing and scary of all the relationship stages. But it should also be the shortest.
Once you’re sure you like the person you’re dating, and you want to invest your time and energy into them, tell them. Be assertive about what you want, and if they don’t reciprocate, you won’t need to waste your time on them. Life is too short to waste on commitment-phobes and fuckboys (or -girls). And the sooner this conversation is had, the sooner we get to the best bit: the honeymoon phase.
Relationship Stage 4: The honeymoon period
So you’re exclusive. The novelty is real and this is probably one of the most exciting stages of dating. You can’t believe that you’ve met someone so great, and every moment spent together is filled with love and happiness. Could this be true love? You probably spend a LOT of time with your S.O (Significant Other) and it can feel like you’re the only two people in the world. You deserve to indulge in it, enjoy it and bond with your new partner.
The best way to handle this stage of dating is to not neglect your other relationships. Keep your loved ones in the loop, introduce them to your partner and remind them how important they are to you. Finding a balance between your new partner and the other important people in your life, be it friends, family or your dog, will help keep your mind clear and build the right foundations for your relationship. Your perceptions can be especially clouded in the honeymoon phase too, so this is where loved ones can offer objective advice and help you to see any red flags.
Relationship Stage 5: Reality
After the honeymoon, comes reality. The rose-tinted glasses come off now, and the reality of life sets in. You see your partner for the imperfect, flawed human that they are, you have disagreements, and life happens. We all have a lot going on, and things are constantly changing.
Whether it’s our relationships, careers or mental health, your relationship needs to be able to survive. This is an important relationship milestone and period as this is when you will see whether the connection between you is simply lust and attraction, or the makings of real love. So pay attention to how things are when you hit a bump in the road. Does your partner pull away from you or lose interest when things go wrong, or are they ready and willing to help you? That’ll tell you whether it’s real, so keep in mind those qualities you want in a partner.
Relationship Stage 6: Commitment
If you still want to be with your partner, flaws and all, then you’ve made it to the last stage of dating. This is the real holy grail of dating and one of the most foundational stages of love. The stage where you both commit to each other, in spite of the ups and downs, the good and bad days. Real love. Love that heals, supports and uplifts you, even in hard times.
Now you can plan long-term, knowing that who you’re with is in it for the long run, and share your lives together. But this isn’t to say things will be easy. Life is tough, and simply being in love isn’t always enough. Real love takes work, constant self-reflection and commitment to your S.O, to ensure you’re both being your best selves and partners.
Whatever stage of dating you’re at, it’s always important to stay true to yourself, your needs and your gut feelings. That’s how you’ll best handle each stage of any relationship.