Who would have thought dating would become so complex. Back in my nans day they saw someone they liked, thought ‘they will do for me’ and that was it! Before they knew it, they were knocked up which in them days meant they would have to get married to avoid the stigma of having a child out of wedlock. I guess a fair few people ended up regretting their decision because it is so important to get to know someone properly if you are going to commit to being in a serious relationship with them. In this modern world though relationships are much easier to end even if you are married; couples are getting divorced all the time. My advice would be to try to make sure you don’t become a statistic by fully engaging in the dating process so you can make a healthy evaluation about the relationship.

There are 5 main stages of dating. These are the initial attraction, followed by the infatuation phase when you have your first date.  The casual dating phase is next where you continue to see more of each other, then comes exclusive dating and finally making a commitment.

Attraction

This is where you first meet. It could be on the train, in a bar or on a dating site. I met my husband online and this gave me a great opportunity to ask him lots of questions before we actually met in person. Contrary to some peoples ‘online’ opinions I feel I knew him so much better meeting him online than if I had met him in a bar or somewhere face to face. I would not have felt so comfortable asking him so many probing questions but because I had no emotional connection at this point, I felt I had nothing to lose. I had also read his bio, talked to him for hours via messaging and even facetimed him twice before we met in person.

The initial attraction is primarily based on looks in a lot of cases; after all we need to be sexually attracted to this person to consider an intimate relationship.

Infatuation/ first dates

So, we have established we fancy the pants of this girl or guy and now we move into the next phase which is to meet up on a first date! At this point both people are trying to portray themselves in the best light and showing the best version of themselves. Legs will be cleanly shaved, guys will be wearing their best aftershave and taking the girl to the best places on dates. If you get taken to KFC at this point, I would seriously be questioning this guy; unless of course you said it was your favourite place to eat! There shouldn’t really be any conflict at this stage, everything will get smoothed over or brushed under the carpet whilst trying to make a good impression.

The first kiss is a pretty big deal! This could of course come before the first date but regardless of when it happens, how you feel about it is a huge indicator. In a perfect world you should feel butterflies and it should turn you on. If you feel nothing, or even worse it gives you the ‘ick’ then it’s a huge red flag and you should listen to it.

Casually Dating

After the first date things will go one of two ways- things will either fizzle out or they will go great and you will decide to make a proper go of things

At this stage you’re figuring each other out and getting to know each other. You are also trying to establish if they are right for you. This ‘dating’ phase of your relationship could last a week, or it could last 6 months. Every couple is different, and it takes some people longer than others to feel comfortable or to figure out if this person is right for them. From first properly talking to my husband to becoming exclusive it only took a week; it’s a cliché but ‘when you know, you know’. It was probably another month or so before we referred to each other as our boyfriend/girlfriend. I don’t think we ever really had ‘the chat’, we just knew that we wanted to be together.

In this phase might be the first time you have sex, but it may have happened on your first date or perhaps right at the start and that led you to date. Equally, you might want to save it until you are exclusively dating or fully committed; do whatever feels right for you. The first time you have sex is an important point of a relationship and research suggests it’s not always that great – so don’t worry! Having sex is extremely intimate and we all like different things so it will take time to get in sync with each other. When you have sex more regularly you start to understand what each other likes and you become more in tune with each other.

Exclusively dating / being in a relationship

This is the getting comfortable phase. It is exciting and interesting to get to know someone so well. You start opening up to each other about past experiences; the best and worst times of your life. Each other’s career plans, aspirations and goals are shared. You get to meet their family and friends and build a bond with them too.

Making a commitment

At this point you should know your partner extremely well, paying particular attention to their attitudes, beliefs, and values. Conversations should be honest and open to establish you both want the same major things in life, and when you want them. You also need to be in full support of each other’s ambitions and career aspirations. At this point it is vital that both people are to be singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak. There isn’t a couple out there who agree on absolutely everything but make sure you agree on the most important things like if you want children or where you want to live. The smaller less important things can be negotiated and compromised on.

Making a commitment in this millennial world certainly does not have to mean getting engaged as so many people often decide marriage isn’t for them but this does not make them any less committed. Instead a couple my decide to move in together and get a mortgage together. They may decide to have a child together.  For my husband and I we decided to have a child and move in together at the same time and we got engaged a few months afterwards. We weren’t spring chickens when we met (we were both 32) and we knew what we were looking for in a relationship.


RELATED DATING RESOURCES

How Do You Start a Conversation?
First Date Phone Call Etiquette – Video Call Before Date
How To Tell a Guy You Dont Like Him
How To Tell a Guy You Like Him
How To Tell a Guy You Love Him
How to Date a Celebrity
How to Date During Lockdown – Date Successfully during a Pandemic
Dating Do’s and Don’ts – What you should you do and not do while dating
How Do You Date Someone?
How Do You Know You’re Dating the Right Person?