Dating vs. Relationship
Dating vs. Relationship Over the years, a lot of people have confused dating and relationships because of the similarities they share. As such, it has become difficult for many to clearly define where they stand.
Nonetheless, if you are in this boat, just take a deep breath and relax while we take you through the differences and stages of dating and being in a relationship.
How is Dating Different From Being in a Relationship?
According to research, dating is one of the pre-stages of a committed relationship. This simply means that two people are exploring their interests towards one another to find common ground. It is also at this time that they both discuss their expectations in a relationship.
On the other hand, a relationship is a commitment that exists between two people and it is often marked with hope towards a future together.
4 Stages of Dating
- The Attraction Stage
At this dating stage, you just want to get close to this person and become friends. Your intentions are blurry and you may not to able to clearly define what you want since it’s only an attraction.
A lot of factors can be responsible for the dating phrase such as; physical attraction or beauty, intellectual ability, and promise of care.
Whatever may have prompted the attraction would sometimes push you into the second phase. It may also end at just being attracted to someone and nothing more.
- The Curiosity Stage
This dating stage often entails having a lot of questions and not knowing when to ask them. You are eager to find out things about your partner and also tell them about you.
Both partners may ask questions about their families, careers, past relationships, personality types, and interests. This stage may last for 3-6 months based on the person’s maturity, experience, and expectations.
- The Enlightenment Stage
At this stage, both partners have answered questions about their uncertainties and are looking forward to building a committed relationship. However, they may experience certain conflicting issues at this point and also disagree on a number of things,
Even though there’s no relationship yet, they may both express emotions as they feel entitled to their partner. Jealousy is also likely to set in and boundaries may be set if they are willing to continue.
- Intimate partnership
This is the last stage of dating just before both partners start a relationship. They both have an understanding of one another’s values, lifestyle, and goals for the future. As such, this dating phase is marked by open and honest conversations. The pair would also point out areas they need to make improvements and set boundaries.
When can I Say I’m in a Relationship?
As hinted earlier, a relationship means having a committed union. At this point, you are no longer uncertain if your partner is the right person for you or not. Rather, you are looking at moving to the next level.
A relationship is often marked by growing emotions and intimacy toward one another. Some signs that you are in a relationship include,
- The love you share is mutual
- Your communication level is on the increase
- You are not afraid of being yourself around your partner
- There’s no one else in the picture
- You make them a priority
- Making plans as a pair
- You introduce him to your friends and family
- Complete trust and confidence
- You engage them in your future plans
The Stages of a Committed Relationship
Similar to dating, there are also stages in a committed relationship. This phase will guide you to the next level and help you understand what’s happening in your relationship.
It is important to note that these stages are not linear but cyclical and have been mapped out by relationship experts and therapists through the identification of relationship patterns. While some partners may spend 6-12 months to complete the stages, others may spend several years.
- The Romance Stage
The first stage of a relationship is very similar to “the honeymoon phase” of the couple as it is marked with deep love. In this phase, your partner is looking out to spend the most beautiful evenings with you and also wake up to your gaze. It revolves around insatiable passion as all boundaries are often broken.
The both of you constantly think of each other and can literally relate every love song or story to your relationship. It is at this stage you can go head over heels for your man and he does the same for you. According to research, the brain releases a number of love chemicals such as oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins which are mostly responsible for these heightened emotions.
Most times, both partners give less attention to incompatibility and red flags. They will tolerate one another excesses and even abuse. It is advisable that you slow down during this phase because the feeling of infatuation is temporal and will fade off eventually.
- The Crisis Stage
This stage is inevitable as every relationship has its ups and downs. At this point, the minutes of things will begin to matter and you’ll notice the differences you have with your partner. In fact, relationship experts assert that it is at this phase that your love is being tested.
Both partners will struggle for power and relevance that the romance stage may have robbed you of. Questions like; Is he the one for me? Do I love her enough? will begin to set in. With increased mixed feelings of doubt, it may result in a fight or complete withdrawal.
You’ll need to tolerate and show mutual respect towards each other as both of you have become comfortable with one another. It is advisable you give each other space at this time to adjust and comprehend that relationships cannot be all rosy.
- The Working Stage
If you have been able to overcome the crisis stage, then that’s a big win. However, it doesn’t erase the possibility of a breakup. This is because both of you may not be able to manage the effects that the crisis stage has caused.
There may be a lot of negative energy at this time that would only be overshadowed by complete affection. Both of you understand that the relationship is not working yet you still maintain friendship and positive energy at all costs.
It is called the working stage because you’ll need to work on yourself and also learn to understand your partner’s personality and love language.
- The Decision Stage
This phase of a relationship calls for both of you to affirm to yourselves that there’s still mutual love and respect. Regardless of all that had happened in the previous stages, they’ll need to decide if they want to stay and fix things completely or just head to the door and leave.
They may also need to take some time to make this decision and evaluate how far you’ve come. The question of what you want from the relationship is often asked here. Thus, this stage is slow and often marked with a series of questions that must be answered.
If the pair decide to stay then they’ll be sure to commit to working towards a better union. However, if they opt to part ways, they often outline their reasons and amicably break up which may just be for good.
- The Wholehearted Love Stage
The stage will see both of you profess undying and neverending love toward one another. Here, the relationship is at its healthiest and ready to blossom.
Both of you have been able to overcome the questions of doubt and have a full understanding that there’s no such thing as a perfect match. Rather, you are committed to working out your love and having heart-to-heart conversations when the need arises.
This stage will see you and your partner become best friends and have productive conversations. Both of you will experience being loved just the way you are and how you want to be loved.
Since you have witnessed and overcome other stages, you’ll be able to sustain in this phase for a long time and be ready to think of the future as a pair.
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