The Seven Stages of Dating for Men Written by a Woman

kissing couple in the car

What are the stages of a relationship?

…and how do I know which one I’m in?

We sympathize with you, guys. It’s tough not having a frame of reference. So we’ve spelled out for you, along with some important information to know about each one, in one fail swoop:

1. Let’s hang out.

This initial stage constitutes the first date and several follow-up dates (if you get that far). This is a crucial make-or-break state that determines if you have a fighting chance at advancing to any of the following stages, so you need to break out the big guns and impress here. Because you have no foundation or history, the slightest wrong move and you will be allocated to the discard pile… forever.

Our advice during this delicate period is to play it cool. Be yourself, but maybe a more subtle version of yourself, giving her time to warm up to you. For example, distil your passion for Pokemon and the entire room you have dedicated to the little critters into “Yeah, I’m kind of into Pokemon.” Trust us; she’ll be more forgiving of those kind of extremes once you have logged double-digit hours together.

Also: chivalry will go a long way to impress a girl in this stage. Pull out her chair, open doors, and offer to pay if you are able.

2. I think I like you a little bit.

Phew, you’ve made it. Chances are good that it will take more than a little screw-up at this point for her to cut you off. You’ve earned the right to relax a little. But this stage requires dedication and maintenance in order to keep her interest and convince her that she wants to, you know, be with you.

Set up dates ahead of time and check in via text somewhere in the realm of every other day. Flirty texts are great, but even if you’ve already consummated your relationship, keep the sexting to a minimum unless things progress naturally in that direction. For example, don’t follow a casual “Good morning!” with a morning wood-inspired dick pic, but if you exchange enough casual foreplay and she is into it, go for it.

3. Things are heating up…

This is the most pleasurable, delicious stage of a relationship, and many a song and poem has been written to memorialize the intoxicating tailspin that is falling in love. You can’t get enough of each other; you are thirsty for each other, you can’t get her off of your mind…

One point to be mindful of here is it’s probably a good time to assume that you are exclusive. Even if you don’t have an established relationship, if the goal is to pursue one, then it is high time to bid adieu to that regular booty call you have on speed-dial. Nothing can throw a wrench in a burgeoning relationship than the discovery that you aren’t the only one.

4. “The Talk.”

“Do you wanna be my girlfriend?” The talk is your chance to outline the terms of your commitment to each other. It’s a good chance to voice what’s important to you and establish the foundation of your relationship, or rather, listen and nod while she talks about these things in excruciating detail.

5. “Let’s hang out,” round two

Now that you are in an official relationship, she’s going to pay close attention to how you behave. This is your audition for the permanent position. This is a good time to be yourself and let it all hang out, because neither of you wants to waste your time with somebody who isn’t right for them.

6. “The Talk,” round two.

So where is this all heading? You’ve had your time to have fun and play together, but now it’s time to get serious. Is this the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with (you know, if you are into that kind of thing)? If not, after a year or so in a serious relationship, it may be time to end it if it’s heading on a fast road to nowhere. Or, alternatively, this is the time to start talking that scary future-talk about life goals. Do they include children? Marriage? Moving to another country? Hashing these things out before you tie yourself down can prevent a lot of future heartache.

7. Happily ever after

Congratulations! You’ve achieved marital (or some equivalent form of life partnership) bliss. You can look forward to a life of peace, harmony, and happiness (or something like that).

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