Dating is a process that involves the development of a relationship. Whether you are seasoned in the dating scene or have never been on a date in your life, it is helpful to learn about the five stages of dating so that you know what the process involves, as well as how to appropriately manage your expectations.
Attraction is the initial phenomenon that brings two people together on a date. This feeling can be based on physical or nonphysical attraction, and it is during this first stage that people hope the other person is attracted to them as well. Having a mutual attraction sets up couples for the next stage in the dating process. But if only one person is attracted to the other, and the feeling is not reciprocated, then the couple's chances of moving into the second dating stage are slim.
Uncertainty is the stage in the dating process where two people have a mutual interest in the other, but each person is now uncertain about whether or not the other person is "right" for them. This "right" factor is often based on what the individual is looking for in a partner, what past experiences were like and whether or not the new person fits the ideal mould. It is normal for people to experience uncertainty when they are in the early stages of dating. In John Gray's "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus," he explains that the uncertainty stage is not indicative of a person being "wrong" for someone, but it is rather a question of what a person wants.
Exclusivity is another word for commitment. When you are exclusively dating someone, both people in the relationship have committed to only being with the other person, emotionally and physically. This stage comes after the uncertainty stage, which means that the individuals have decided to give the relationship a real shot and are putting effort into making the relationship grow. In this stage, couples learn a lot about one another and they discover what the other person is--and isn't--willing to do for them.
Real intimacy is the fourth stage in the dating process. Here, couples are more relaxed, comfortable and most themselves. This is the stage where women may walk around without their make-up or hair done, or men might feel comfortable enough to not shave for a couple of days. This stage gives each person in the relationship insight into who the other person really is. This is a special and deep stage in the relationship, and is a sign that the couple is developing a life together.
Engagement is the final stage in the dating process, and is the step that precedes marriage. In this stage, the determination has been made that the two people want to spend their lives together, and they begin to plan for a lifelong commitment. In this stage, wedding plans are made, dreams are shared and the idea of family is discussed.