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Identifying your stage of dating

Updated on October 19, 2011

Are you seeing someone, or dating? Is the man or woman you're seeing your "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" or just a friend? In the many stages of dating, there are so many facets that can lead to confusion. Here is a little help with explaining exactly what stage you're in while dating.

Enmeshed in Confusion

Enmeshed in Confusion
Enmeshed in Confusion | Source

Dating and relationships have become so complicated in modern times. Dating used to be a gentlemen asking the lady out, and he would pick her up with a little token of love, like flowers. The romance would commence with proper etiquette while wining and dining the lady. A date ended with a farewell kiss on her hand, and when the man promised to call her later for a second date, he would.

For most of us singles today, the "friends with benefits" option has been offered (or is in effect) with any potential love interests. The less emotions are involved, the better. And don't be too clingy or attached because you have to prove that you absolutely don't need anyone in this life, but your own independent self.

Why did things come to this? I love romance!

With all the new terminology of couples and dating these days, one has to check the Urban Dictionary to find out what stage they're in with someone. Can you call someone your "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" after the third date? How many dates until you can post "in a relationship" on Facebook? Are you "seeing someone" (hanging out without spending money), or are you "dating" (planning dates where you spend money for restaurants, etc)? Or should you just click on "it's complicated" if you can't figure out yourself where you stand with someone? Next thing you know, Facebook will have a "friends with benefits" or "no strings attached" option to choose from. Monogamous long term relationships have become as rare as the condor. Romance sure seems to be endangered, as well.

Don't forget the "rules" of dating where you can't show, tell, feel or express any desire for someone because then you will give up your edge on a pending "relationship." Men need to chase the woman, but they are known to string them along even if there's no interest for emotional intimacy. Women have to compete with other desperate single women for the dwindling pool of single men (add financially successful, good looking or smart to the mix, and women will throw their vaginas at him, hoping that she will be given the rose by the sought after bachelor). After months of sleeping with said man, the woman will wake up feeling used, foolish and disappointed when she gives her "where is this relationship going?" speech and he disappears.

Want to stop the madness?

Then stop playing the "games" and tell any prospective partner right away what your relationship goals are. Maybe you are too busy and want a hookup when it's convenient for you-- say so. Or perhaps you plan to consummate the marriage on your wedding night. Avoid heartbreak and unnecessary time spent with the wrong person by communicating up front your expectations. When you're fishing for the right mate, throw the wrong fish back into the water the minute you notice it's a barracuda instead of a trophy fish.

John Gray, Ph.D., author of Mars and Venus on a Date, breaks the dating process into five stages. First, it's attraction, stage two is uncertainty, followed by exclusivity, intimacy and lastly, engagement. When couples skip stages, or are at different stages at one time, the relationship can fail when the scales are off balance. If a couple goes from attraction straight to intimacy (friends with benefits) they don't get to find out if the other meets their needs. Or if they agree to be exclusive-- hence why one person (usually the woman) gets hurt when she has feelings of love unrequited by her lover.

According to Gray, a couple needs physical, emotional, mental and spiritual chemistry in order to find a true "soul mate." Physical chemistry, obviously is what we notice right away in the attraction stage. It's those pheromones you pick up on that say, "yeah, I'd do him." Emotional chemistry is when you feel that a partner "gets you" and you sense the affection is reciprocated. Mental chemistry is when you can have a stimulating conversation with someone (or connect with each other in interests). Spiritual chemistry is the reflection of your own beliefs and values-- or "meat and potatoes" for a lasting soul mate.

If you are confused with what stage you're in, it's okay to step back and evaluate your relationship. If you find you are ahead of your partner, it's not too late to slow down and go back a few stages. If you communicate with your partner and get mixed messages, it's perfectly acceptable to cut your losses and move on to a better match. Be realistic and most importantly, be honest (with your partner-- and yourself). Your significant other will respect you for being forthcoming, and so will you.

What exactly is a significant other? I think anyone from friends with benefits to your spouse can be called one. But I'm not sure, after all, I think men should do the whole "dating ritual" with women so they swoon under the moonlight. I'm an endangered breed, like condors.


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    • profile image

      DTM3 4 years ago

      There is SO much I could say here but I'll just leave it at this .....Amen. Great post.

    • samowhamo profile image

      samowhamo 4 years ago

      Thank you very much wonderful1 I actually have learned quite a bit about asperger's but I think your right in suggesting I find a group. I preferably would like to date someone else with asperger's as I feel I can relate to them better then someone who dosent have it.

    • ytsenoh profile image

      Cathy 4 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      Wow, this was pretty interesting. I also liked the comment lovedoctor made relative to the value of being selective. I think loving someone is almost an art form for several reasons. Check out Erich Fromm's book, "The Art of Loving." I also think that we define love and relationships at different ages based on our own experiences, and maturity. When we're teenagers, we fall in love with love, then the idea of it. We don't have enough life experience to come to understand someone or accept him or her for "who" they are. Really good hub you have here on an interesting subject. Thanks much.

    • wonderful1 profile image

      Sheila Varga Szabo 4 years ago from Southern California

      Samowhamo: I just did a quick search of the symptoms and it seems to me that it's a condition only another person who has knowledge of Asperger's would understand. My suggestion to you is to go to and find a local group that meets in your area. Connecting socially with others who have similar situations is a great way to "meet" people you might connect in other ways with. You could also find sources from your nearest health clinic, either through a therapist or other mental health provider.

      Lovedoctor: I'm so hearing you on that! Women are clueless about how to navigate dating these days but in reality, men haven't changed much over time-- they still mostly just want to get in your pants. That's okay, it's human nature for them. But the problem we're encountering is the easy access to casual relationships that women have succumbed to over the last few decades. What would have been considered "rude" to expect sex on the first date has now become an everyday ritual, sort of cheapening the whole experience. We've become de-sensitized by this FWB/NSA lifestyle. And once you get there, it's hard to reverse the cycle. I agree that it takes a huge amount of will power and setting personal boundaries-- for both men and women. I do enjoy singledom myself and don't miss the drama or emotional issues that come with relationships. I do miss cuddling though! The dating game is about numbers (unless you're lucky enough to date a great match at the very beginning). For me, it's been a learning experience to say "no" to guys I don't see a future with. Also, having more self-control can do wonders. Yes, a man will have to "hunt" me, or earn my affection. I'm worth the effort so I won't settle for less any more.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      After reading this hub I want to recenter my thoughts on dating.

      Thanks to lovedoc for sharing this hub on facebook.


    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      Are you on facebook? I wanted to share this hub but the sharing button is not working.

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      Excellent points. The rules of dating have changed tremendously. Men will tell you what they think you want to hear with the hope of getting laid. In my opinion, women who settle for friendship with benefit don't recognize their value nor do they love themselves. If you don't set boundaries from the beginning, you are allowing men to string you along and basically just use you for sex. Sex is not the way to a man's heart as many women seem to think. A man can have sex with tons of women and fall in love with one. Love and romance, chivalry is pretty much gone. It's all a bunch of b.s and games that personally smart women just don't have time for. What I have learned about myself is that I don't really need a man to be happy. I'm perfectly content if I have one for company and fine without one because I can accomplish so much more and still enjoy the simple pleasures of life without having anyone to tell me how I should live my life. Being single does have its benefits. Dating is a numbers game. you keep going out and testing every man until you find the one that meets your standards. Yes, it pays to be selective. When a man is really interested nothing can keep him away. If he's not chasing, calling, emailing, texting and planning dates ahead of time, he's not in it for the long run so you shouldn't waste your time. The dating rules have changed, but one thing that hasn't changed is that men still want to be the hunters. If something is too easy, then it's not worth it.

    • samowhamo profile image

      samowhamo 4 years ago

      My main concern would be how to meet someone.

    • wonderful1 profile image

      Sheila Varga Szabo 4 years ago from Southern California

      I'm sorry but I don't know anything about asperger's-- I'd have to research the subject. What is your main concern about it? What are the biggest difficulties?

    • samowhamo profile image

      samowhamo 4 years ago

      You have interesting articles. I was wondering if you have any tips for dating with asperger's syndrome I have asperger's and for most people with asperger's dating can be more difficult then making friends and preferably I would like to meet people who also have asperger's. If you could give me some advice or tips I would love that

    • wonderful1 profile image

      Sheila Varga Szabo 5 years ago from Southern California

      I just had that epiphany, jellygator: I realized that if two souls are mirroring each other, and slowly merging together (at the same speed) in love, then there should be NO CONFUSION. Everything would feel "right" and you would be at peace inside that someone "gets you." I thought I met a guy like that once (didn't even "meet" him in person, actually), but it was a false love. He was married, and I got swept up in the moment. I've had my share of life experiences/dating experiences and met different types of men. From all of them, I've yet to do the traditional "courting" and fall for the right reasons. I'm optimistic that I will find a good man some day (who sticks around when he sees the great catch before him). I think he's stuck in traffic somewhere.

    • jellygator profile image

      jellygator 5 years ago from USA

      I like John Gray's stuff, but I think that the more uncertainty there is, the more likely it is due to an incompatibility that will rear its ugly head later. In my enduring relationships, there has been little to no uncertainty. What has your experience been on this?

    • cbpoet profile image

      cbpoet 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Nice read. Often times I feel like I'm living on Mars and dating aliens. Thanks for introducing us to the book, "Mars and Venus on a Date." It sounds interesting.

    • wonderful1 profile image

      Sheila Varga Szabo 6 years ago from Southern California

      Oh, I know, right, Deborah??? We're so afraid of scaring guys away by being honest about our needs, but the truth is, if they won't stick around when they find out, they're not worth our time! Good stuff, and thanks for the comment.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      great insight and great advice. this is a great subject. It doesn't matter how old you are. women need to talk openly.. but so many are afraid that they are going to mess us a relationship when it might not even be a relationship yet. I agree with you.

      great Article.. I voted up..

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 6 years ago

      Wonderful1, Once again you have written another insightful hub. I just became an official fan! LOL! Apparently we specialize on the same subject matter. (gender relations). It's been said, "Women fall in love with their ears and men fall in love with their eyes" Hopefully with time comes wisdom. Men learn that everything that "glitters" ain't gold and women learn "actions" speak louder words!

      Once again we have hit on the same subject. This will be the last time I mention one of my hubs as it relates to yours but I have to admit I'm impressed with what you've written thus far. Welcome to Hubpages!Have a great weekend!

    • wonderful1 profile image

      Sheila Varga Szabo 6 years ago from Southern California

      Well said Deborrah! A lot of women make the mistake of assuming men are "mind readers." Just say what you mean, and mean what you say. It should work. Unless the man is a liar and knows what to say to convince you to stick around.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • DeborrahC profile image

      DeborrahC 6 years ago from Oakland, California

      Happy to see you reminded women about open and clear communication!!! Ladies need to remember that until they have had a commitment and exclusivity talk with a man, and you both agreed to it, then you are not part of a couple. And you can't get upset if he goes out with or sleeps with another woman because HE IS NOT YOUR MAN.