14 Stages Of A Romantic Relationship
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© April 2018, LD Wilson Consultants, Inc.
The idea of this article is that for a successful relationship, it must always pass through the following fourteen steps. This can happen in a few months, or it might take a year or more. The timing does not matter. What matters is that you pass successfully through each step.
The purpose of this article is to articulate the steps so that you can recognize them in your relationship, and make sure you have passed through each one correctly before going on the next one. If you skip steps, or do not successfully complete a step and move on, you are likely to make a poor decision, and your relationship will have less chance of long-term success.
Some steps will be easy for some people, and difficult for others. This is just the way we think and can be due to past experiences. So, don’t worry if a step seems to take longer for you than for your partner, or for friends.
At each step, you are asked to make the choice as to whether to continue the relationship, whether to ask the other person to make some changes, whether to make changes in yourself, or whether it is best to just let it go. So, it is a discovery process to help build lasting relationships.
While these steps are for a romantic relationship, you could use the same steps to build a business relationship, or other type of relationship with another person. Key phrases for the 14 steps are:
1. I am willing to give this a try.
8. We are getting closer.
2. I feel something.
9. We feel good together.
3. I understand a little.
10. We understand each other well.
4. I can relax with this person.
11. We may be in love, and not just infatuated.
5. We are a team.
12. We are deeply committed.
6. We think alike.
13. We are getting serious.
7. We are a spiritual team.
14. We are together.
DETAILS ON THE 14 STEPS
The first seven steps are about making a friend. The second seven steps are about making the friendship deep and enduring.
STEP 1. I AM WILLING TO GIVE THIS A TRY(GO OUT ON A DATE)
This is a commitment step. To complete it, you may need to overcome some fear or strangeness of being with someone you do not know, or do not know well.
However, if you are not willing to go out, nothing more will happen, even if you wish for it. So, do not be too afraid. If fear is intense, it can be a warning that something is wrong, so heed the fear. Perhaps talk to the other person on the telephone for a week, a month or longer to see if the fear abates.
If successful at this step, you will have decided to go out with the other person.
STEP 2. I ALLOW MYSELF TO FEEL HOW WE ARE TOGETHER
This is a trust step. At times, it is easy and natural. In other cases, it is more difficult. Some people wear their heart on their shoulder. Others are more closed or fearful, and do not feel things as easily. Try not to judge the other person. Just observe.
Feeling how you are together may be easier for a woman, but not necessarily. If successful at this step, you will feel a little intimate or familiar with the other person. It is important to feel through the surface emotions and energies and try to identify the underlying vibration of your friendship.
STEP 3. I UNDERSTAND A LITTLE
This is an intellectual step. It can happen on the first date, or maybe it will take a few dates before you get to talking much with the other person. However, this is a very important step.
This takes more than going to a movie or having a coffee with another. It might take spending an afternoon or a whole day with another person, so you can really talk about things.
If the relationship successfully passes this test, you will feel a little more trusting of the other person and more in control, as well.
STEP 4. HE OR SHE IS A FRIEND
This is a relaxation step. To complete it requires that you relax around the other person, and preferably to laugh together in a fun way. This does not mean to get drunk or high together and laugh for this reason. It means to be able to “let your hair down” around the other person.
If successful with this step, you will have made a friend, meaning someone with whom you can relax.
STEP 5. WE ARE A TEAM
This is another commitment step. At this step, you and the other person should begin to vibrate together or resonate with each other, finding common interests and commonality of thinking. Also, from here on, you should be using the words “we” and “us” much more, and not using the words “me”, “mine”, “his” or “hers” as much.
Success with this step occurs when you feel like you and your new friend are working as a team. You are consulting each other on major decisions, such as what to do on your next date, and you are using the words “we” and “us” much more.
About sex. Note that up until now (and for a few more steps), sex is not part of the relationship. It is not good to start sex yet, even if you want it. It is best to wait, if possible.
Usually, if sex starts early, it will influence your decisions and the decisions will not be nearly as good. I know this goes against the modern way of doing things, but it is best. Christians have the right idea to wait for sex until later in the relationship.
Hugging is fine, if it is not too intimate, as are brief kisses. Please avoid heavy petting and intimate kissing, though. They are for later steps. If one person insists on this early, it is a bad red flag. Sometimes, a person wants this only because he or she is insecure, or only because he or she thinks this is necessary. So talk about it, and talk about everything if you want to be successful at this step.
STEP 6. WE ARE A POWER TEAM
This is a trust step. It is about “getting along” at a deeper level. To complete any step in this process, but especially this one, one person or perhaps both may need to change his or her ideas or beliefs. This is okay, provided it really occurs. Sometimes it is hard to tell if the other person is faking their ideas, so take your time with this important step.
For example, you might not like liberal ideas such as abortion and homosexuality. The other person may think they are fine, or at least does not object to them. You may like going to church, while the other person is of a different religion, or has no religion.
These differences in beliefs and thinking are critical to resolve, if possible. Sometimes, one person has thought through the issues, while the other has not. In this case, the one can instruct the other. Be careful with this, however, because the second person can pretend to understand, when he or she is just going along because he or she wants the relationship. This will not work!
Other times, both friends have thought things through and have made up their mind. This results in a difficult impasse. If the relationship is to progress, one must be willing to at least entertain the idea of changing his or her mind.
If neither person wants to change to make the couple more compatible intellectually, I don’t recommend continuing the relationship. It usually will not work well. It will tend to bring on misery later on!
If you can complete this step, you should know that you share many core beliefs about life, love, children, politics, religion and more.
STEP 7. WE ARE A SPIRITUAL TEAM
This is a spiritual step. If you have made it this far, a third party actually enters into your relationship and helps moderate it and move it along. This is not fantasy. Guides participate more and help you to see if you and the other person are really a team at higher levels.
You have passed this test when you feel deeply that you and your friend are similar at a spiritual level, and not just at intellectual and emotional levels. This is not always easy to feel, however, so take your time here. If you are not sure, then just stay with the relationship but don’t try to move on to the next step right away.
STEP 8. WE ARE GETTING CLOSER
This is another commitment step. It is about moving closer, although it is not about moving your home. That comes later.
This step is about seeing how you communicate together. It may mean dating more often. It might mean meeting each other’s parents and friends or talking about subjects you avoided in the past. It is still not about sex, I would suggest. That will come later, as well.
From now on, all the steps are somewhat spiritual in nature, and involve closer connections between you and the other person. If you don’t feel this closeness, do not continue the relationship. This is quite important.
What can occur at this stage is that you have put a lot of work and time into the relationship. As a result, you may want to continue it, even if it is not the best, so that you do not lose your “investment”. This, however, is a trap! Like any investment, if it is not doing well, it is best to cut your losses. So be careful here.
When completed successfully, you will know that you can be more than just a casual friend with this person. He or she should feel like a good friend, not just another friend.
STEP 9. WE FEEL GOOD TOGETHER
This step is like step #2 above, but deeper. It is another tuning in to the other person and to your relationship at an emotional level. It is not so much about meeting parents or friends. It is about respecting and honoring everything about your new friend.
At this step, many people want to have sex to “express their feelings”. It is tempting, but I would avoid it, just as I would avoid heavy petting, touching, kissing and the like at this step in the relationship. Believe it or not, you have a few more steps to complete first so that sex is safe, especially for women.
When you complete this step successfully, you will feel a deeper emotional connection with your new friend. If the feeling is not great, then do not continue with the relationship. However, if the feeling is okay, then you can move on to the next step.
STEP 10. WE UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER DEEPLY
This is an understanding step. Like step 3 above, this step is about a deeper intellectual appreciation and understanding of the other person. It is an important step, and one that causes problems for many couples. They may relate emotionally, but one may have a very different view of life at the deepest levels.
For example, the man may be very analytical, while the woman may be a feeling type of person. While they can marry and do well, often they are not as comfortable with each other as are two who are analytical or two who are more feeling-oriented. This is just one example of problems that arise at this level.
Another problem that can arise at this level is that the man may be very work-oriented, for example, while the woman is more home-oriented. They may both work, but they have different ideas about the importance of their work. This can damage or ruin a relationship, as well, so beware of this difference in world view.
Completed successfully, this step should leave you and your friend with a deep appreciation of each other. Appreciation is the key word. If it is not there, then it is usually best not to continue the relationship. The reason is that there is an imbalance between the two of you that may be difficult to bridge.
STEP 11. WE MAY BE IN LOVE (not just infatuation)
This is another intimacy step, but it is about a deeper love, and not infatuation. This is another hard one for many couples. Infatuation is common, and the basis for many relationships. Often, they are not the happiest.
For example, one person may love that the other person is “cute”, “funny”, “in charge”, “handsome”, “a great athlete, or singer, or dancer, or something else”. In fact, this is all infatuation. These are not deep levels of human functioning, even if they seem to be. People are much more complex than their looks, their abilities, or even their intellect.
So take your time with this step, as well. It can take some time to decide if you really are past the infatuation stage of the relationship and you are on to the love aspect, which is far more long-term in its ability to endure.
Completed successfully, you and your friend have moved past the infatuation stage of the relationship into a deeper appreciation of the uniqueness of each other. You can now relax at a deeper level together, and just be together.
This is not an easy step because if you let go of the infatuation there may not be much left of the relationship. You may feel you have wasted a few months or even years with this person. This is never true. Hopefully, you have learned a lot and you are more mature. I also hope you have had some good dates together, and you can part as friends.
STEP 12. WE ARE COMMITTED
This is another commitment step. At this step, you should be letting go of your other dates, and even your other friends, to a degree, so that you can spend more time with your new friend. You and your friend should “flow” together very nicely. If this does not happen, something is amiss and don’t go on without finding out what it is.
This is a much deeper commitment and teamwork step that prepares you for the next step. Completed properly, you are lined up for getting really serious.
Once again, I suggest that you not have sex yet, ideally. You still have another step to complete.
STEP 13. WE ARE GETTING SERIOUS
This is another intellectual step, in the sense that you must be willing to think about all the changes that would take place in your life were you to marry this person. You are almost ready for marriage at this step. If you are not thinking this way, you are not really at Step #13.
Completed successfully, this step should deepen the relationship and give each a deeper understanding and appreciation of the other person. If this does not occur, you have not passed through this step and need to go back and review the earlier steps.
About sex early on. Some couples have sex at this point, and it is not too bad. They feel they should “get to know one another sexually” before marriage to make sure they are “compatible sexually”, whatever that means.
However, I still think it is best to wait until the next step for sex. The reason is that it is easy to think you are in love and ready for marriage because you have had sex, when this is not true.
Sex tends to bond a woman to a man, and this is not ideal at this stage. The decision to bond oneself to another should first be an intellectual and spiritual one, not a bodily one. Men may not have this problem as much, although some do. This has to do with the energy exchange that occurs with orgasm in a woman, which is different than what most men experience.
Ready for marriage is much more about commitment and spiritual compatibility than it is about sex, which is basically an animal instinct to reproduce the species. Having sex at this point, or earlier, tends to upset your mind, skew your decisions, and especially for women it shifts their thinking in ways that are not in their best interest.
STEP 14. WE ARE TOGETHER
This is the final step. It is the culmination of all the previous ones. You will know you are there if you and your friend agree on all the important issues in life such as marriage, children, family, money, politics, religion, what kind of health care you want, vaccinations, and more. This is critical. Ideally, do not marry and do not have sex if this step is not completed successfully.
This step is not just a culmination. It is also an integration of all the previous steps. This means that you should be getting along very well at all levels with your friend, and you should be happy and healthy, as well. Healthy is important because the other person should enhance your health. If this is not happening, then something is amiss.
Sometimes this step is called “being in love”. It is, indeed. It is much more than infatuation or superficial ‘puppy love’. It is mature, responsible, sharing, honest and genuine, and it must “work for you” in every way.
Many Hollywood movies take place in this stage of a relationship. Everything seems wonderful at the start of the movie. However, something is amiss. Usually, another man or another woman comes along and soon, all falls apart. In some of the movies, the original couple finds their way back to each other and true love triumphs. In other movies, they realize it was just infatuation - or for some reason they are not really best for each other, and the relationship ends.
It is always somewhat painful to end a relationship at this step, but it is necessary and it is okay. You give the person a big hug and maybe a kiss, and you head off to try again with someone else.
Completed successfully, this step always ends with marriage, and usually with life-long happiness. The reason is that you have taken the trouble to complete the steps necessary to test each other and to prepare you for life together.
Normally, the man proposes marriage. However, this is not necessary. A woman can do it if she feels that she and he are both ready, and he is just holding back out of fear or something else.
Interestingly, when this process completes, the auras of the two people merge in an unusual way that is called a relational aura or relational etheric field. It explodes, growing larger and brighter when this step completes.