All healthy committed relationships go through some significant stages of a relationship and they develop on a natural course.
It starts with a good conversation, you build connection, you go out to a first date, second and more dates, and you feel he´s “the One”.
Dating, also called as courtship, should last a reasonable time — not too short and not too long. Overly-short courtships are associated with a high likelihood of divorce, while long courtships often deteriorate and take a dead-end turn.
My husband and I spent a total of two years in dating and courtship before we tied the knot.
Your relationship should progress naturally from simply enjoying each other´s company to getting-to-know each other and then graduate to decision-making maturity.
Here are the four stages of a relationship:
1. The Affective Stage
This is the time when you first met and you were smitten by attraction. It´s usually “accompanied by a strong sense of predominantly physical attraction, and behavior is limited to superficial aspects”, say relationship experts Julian and Annette Melgosa.
You enjoy just being together. You feel like you are meant for each other. Rarely are there arguments, and all you see are the best qualities of your partner.
Although you are over-the-moon, this initial attraction does not guarantee a long lasting relationship. So be careful when he starts to suggest that “it´s time to have sex”. Because you are dealing with an overwhelming feeling, you are vulnerable to give in easily.
2. The Common Objective Stage
Once the initial attraction fades, your relationship will progress to getting-to-know each other. Often, during this stage you both are already dating exclusively. This is the time when you will notice compatibilities and incompatibilities, his weaknesses, and the challenges. You will come to have sufficient knowledge to evaluate if this relationship is worth keeping, and if it has a future.
Make him commit and surrender his heart to you, learn how to be “the woman men adore and never want to leave”.
Will it be directed towards a stable and definitive marriage?
During this stage you´ll observe each other´s personalities, tastes, values and attitudes. Once the hurdles and differences are exposed, they can either lead to breakup or negotiation and compromise.
3. The Commitment Stage
This is the decision stage. Will you level up your relationship to a committed relationship? Will he propose? Will you get married?
A firm and mutual commitment from both of you generally translate into wedding plans.
During this stage important problems will arise — problems that are related to wedding planning themselves or concerning personal issues. There will be conflicts and fights, but remember that these are something normal during this stressful period of your life.
Each of you should consider giving up habits or attitudes to reach agreement and to avoid having either one of you being dominant.
4. Breaking Up
If your relationship doesn´t graduate to commitment, or if it does not thrive, the best option is to end the relationship. If one of you is ready to move forward and the other isn´t, the relationship will stale.
However, if you want to break up because of the tensions and stresses of prepping for the wedding, you have to seriously reconsider.
If one of you experiences a loss of love, clearly shown by words and actions, it´s a good reason to break up.
Other serious problems such as physical or psychological violence (See: 10 Signs of an Abusive Man), mistrust and treachery, and drug or alcohol abuse are sufficient grounds to end the relationship.