So Let it be Written, So Let it be Done!

April 17, 2009

The Three Stages of Relationships

Filed under: blogging,drama,kamakula — kamakula @ 9:04 pm

Quick disclaimer, these three stages DON’T include engagement/marriage. However, there will be a slight discussion following that addresses why engagement and marriage should logically be considered one and the same stage.

So, relationships can be tricky to navigate these days. People progress at different rates. Sometimes one wonders “just where are we?” I mean, one is less likely to schedule whole blocks of time off or go through driving hours just to see someone who “is just talking”. I think typically, we either want the other person to be at the same stage that we’re in, or at least have the decency to let us know that they’re not quite that serious when we start talking about planning joint vacations.

This issue is further complicated by our general need to hold the upper hand and limit how vulnerable we can be. Relationship-wise, this generally means the topic of “where are we” is taboo, at least for the first few weeks or months (depending on just how often you’ve been “seeing” each other).

So, what are these stages and how can I recognize them in others (well, probably just your friends when they talk about those of the opposite sex in their lives who are not relatives, classmates, co-workers, or people who have already been turned down [there is NO such thing as platonic friendship])?

  1. Hanging out. Also known as “just talking”, “seeing each other”. This is the stage where you’ve just met and are feeling each other out. There is mutual attraction and perhaps some interest. Certainly fun. But heck, I already have fun with my friends and likely don’t need more, so, the point of this is to see whether the other person captures our interest long enough for us to consider moving to the next phase:
  2. Dating. For those who don’t know or are confused, dating is the stage where you evaluate long term (and for most, exclusive) relationship potential with a person. You are no longer “just talking”, a stage where either person can cancel without worry about anything because there is nothing invested. See, in stage 1, you spend time together when it is convenient. You both happen to be free, in the same place, etc. Dating requires allocating time to be together out of your regular schedule. Now, this evaluation is just for the next stage:
  3. Boyfriend/girlfriend. Yes, that’s right. That long term exclusive relationship is NOT marriage. In this stage, you are now a couple. You meet friends, maybe parents. While you may “hang out” with many people or date a few, you tend to only be in this stage with one other person. The goal here (for some) is to evaluate the other for a permanent commitment – marriage. This is where you root out conflicts like number of children wanted, religion, financial plans for the future, career conflicts, etc.

Once you resolve these issues, you are then ready to move on to (what’s supposed to be) the final stage, marriage. Now, why do I lump engagement together with marriage. Logically, when you ask someone to marry you or agree to marry someone, you are in fact saying, “Yes, we can get married tomorrow”. The only reason that there’s even an engagement stage is to give you time to plan a wedding, setup a common home, finances, etc. If you think that engagement is a time for you to discover any last lingering issues, you have made a very bad mistake.

Alas, many fall into this trap because they don’t actually follow through on the previous stages. Yes, the further up you move, the harder it is to end a relationship, but if you are actually serious about the progression – if your end goal is to be married, then you need to use each stage for what it is. If your end goal is a bf/gf, and you suddenly find yourself accepting (or giving) a marriage proposal, something is wrong. You are not equipped to make a good decision on that front because up to then, that has not been your intention. You’ve not done the due diligence on that front.

Anyway, live and learn.


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