When you’ve met that special someone that you know you want to spend the rest of your life with, even if you’re only at that staring-starry-eyed-at-each-other-across-a-crowded-room stage, then you’d better prepare yourself for the exciting, but exacerbating, minefield that is the dating game. Of course, that’s easier said than done, and with the rules of dating changing all the time, nobody can claim they are fully prepared for what comes next.
[Read: The 10 relationship stages every couple has to go through]
Open and closed stages of dating
Someone should invent a detailed diagram for the different stages of dating, showing those that take you one at a time towards the desired destination and those that will lead to an exit from the field of play.
The former of these are the open stages of dating, stages which follow a sequential and chronological order, which really is the name of the game with dating, and culminates with a productive outcome.
Closed stages, however, occur when a stage is arrived at too quickly or lingered upon too long or have some other influence exerted upon them that leads to a swift exit from all things romance related.
Closed stages of dating
The closed stages of dating are those that have an easily foreseeable end. Here are the types:
#1 The one night stand. There is a big difference between a night of passion between two lovers and a one night stand. A one night stand is never going to lead anywhere, because one of the people involved was either solely after a quickie with no consequences, and you really should have been bright enough to pick up on this, or they indulged against their better judgement, alcohol induced probably.
Indicators of either of these things being true are exclamations such as “Oh, you’re still here!” or “Look, about last night…” or “Oh my god, you actually did come home with me! I thought I was just having a bad dream!” Embarrassment and/or having fulfilled your use means that this relationship is going nowhere. Date ends here. [Read: 16 signs your date will just be a one night stand]
#2 The friend with benefits. Also known as a buck-fuddy, or something like that, is a purely physical outlet for one’s lusts and desires. How people arrive at this position differs quite considerably from case to case. Many begin as one night stands, which lead later down the line to a phone call and another one night stand, and another and so on. Some begin as friendships which turn into physical relationships out of pure frustration.
However, FWBs are a relationship dead end. Firstly, because if there isn’t enough of a connection to progress the relationship any further at the beginning, then there won’t be any connection at the end – and it will end. Secondly, because for a relationship to progress, there needs to be an element of trust and respect and an FWB relationship does little to foster either. Succumb to this path and you will never get any further. [Read: The 25 rules of being friends with benefits]
#3 The friend. Many relationships begin with friendship, but that’s an entirely different matter to what we are looking at here. What we’re talking about is a relationship that starts along the right lines, with a bit of chatting and flirting, but turns into a firm friendship situation. The reasons behind this are obvious.
Sometimes, people try too hard to be nice, to be seen as a perfect potential partner for the other, but there comes a time in a relationship when you need to step up and take it to a different level. If you miss the key moments and signs, then your chance will disappear into the ether and will never present itself again. Welcome to the friend zone! [Read: 18 clear signs you’re stuck in the friend zone]
#4 The rebound. A situation where someone comes out of a long and/or serious relationship, and in a bid to rebuild their confidence or reignite the excitement in their life after a long absence from the real world, throws themselves into the dating arena with just a little too much fervor. Re-bounders are easy to get on a date or into the sack, but their hearts and minds are really on other things.
You become a social prop, until they reach a point where they are ready to reassess their lives at which point you and your link to the rebound period will be dropped like a ton of bricks. Just wait this one out, until you get a chance to become a part of better times. [Read: 15 rebound relationship signs to watch out for]
#5 The back-up. You end up on a date with them, then you get ditched, then you end on a date with them again and then ditched again. You, my friend, have become their romantic back up.
When they need someone to go to a family party with, so they don’t have to suffer the ignominy of being seen to be single or just someone to be seen around town with, you’re nothing more than arm candy, best supporting actor: not much better thought of than a walking stick. Our advice here? Turn around, walk away and never look back.
Open stages of dating
Before you drown yourself in sorrow for engaging in one too many closed stages of dating, here’s the bright side of dating: the types of dating stages that allow you to potentially progress to matrimonial bliss.
#6 The flirt. If the spark is there, the initial required level of physiological attraction, then this should happen pretty much as soon as you meet. Flirting is an essential first footing into the dating game, and tells you a hell of a lot about the pace you can progress the relationship.
Take note of the other’s responses, and if the flirting is coming on thick and fast, then take it onto the next stage. The trick is not to go in too soon or too hard, not unless you want to come across as a moron, and not to let the flirting stage go on for too long. If you’re still flirting six months down the line, then they will probably have lost interest. [Read: 15 obvious signs of a flirtation]
#7 Wining and dining. As it says on the tin. Enough of the flirting, get them in a one-to-one situation – things need to move onwards and upwards. Typically this is done in a restaurant situation, which ticks all the boxes with regards to a conducive romantic ambience, while also providing enough of a feeling of safety and escapability to put everyone at ease. Go easy on the alcohol, though.
A drink or two would ease the conversation, but too much and it could all go wrong. You might think that you’re conversational delivery is as sharp as tack, but you probably sound like Homer Simpson to the sober ear. [Read: 13 romantic dinner dates for two]
#8 The Olivia Newton-John, “Let’s get physical!” Get enough wining and dining in and then when things seem right it’s time to pursue the physical delights you have no doubt been obsessing over since the first glance. Timing is everything in achieving the horizontal shuffle with a meaningful partner, and a great way to make the transition is to mix up steps 7 and 8, i.e., make them a romantic meal at home.
By now, there should have been enough trust built between you to effect this stage, and with the ambience and wine working its magic only yards away from the bedroom, then anything can happen. [Read: 9 best foreplay moves to wow your date]
#9 Meet the parents. You are nearly home and dry, my friend. Once you’ve met the parents there are no longer any boundaries or barriers to the relationship. One caveat however: make sure that there are no mistakes made the first time you do meet them.
We’ve all heard the stories about the guy who, in an attempt to impress his future in-laws, regales them with a joke about a two-legged dog, just as Old Blue, the much-loved family pet, drags himself into the sitting room separating the embarrassed individual from the stony glares of those he was trying to impress. Rule of thumb, engage brain before mouth. [Read: 7 signs it’s time to meet the parents]
#10 Wedding bells. If that’s what you want out of the relationship then, no worries, you’re already there. You just have to concentrate now more on the emotional and day-to-day practical matters to show you are ready for that next big step, and that you can be the life partner for them that they need. [Read: 13 questions you need to ask before getting married]
Though at first, the stages of dating may feel like baby steps, you may suddenly find yourself wanting to take that giant leap. Keep these stages in mind, don’t hurry, and you should be well on your way to a smooth sailing ride to marriage!
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