A new relationship is exciting, scary and often unpredictable. In the early days, everything your date says and does can take on monumental importance. You may envy the easy familiarity and relaxed way of being together that long-term couples enjoy. Although each relationship is different, most evolve in reasonably predictable ways. Knowing what to expect can help you decide if the relationship is right for you and if you are ready to move on to the next stage.
When you first begin dating someone, you may feel nearly overwhelmed by the intense attraction you have to that person. KidsHealth.org notes that this feeling often seems like love, but it does not include the emotional closeness that is built up over time. This stage is marked by passion, the belief that your partner can do no wrong and the thrill of finding someone to love and be loved by, points out psychologist Nancy Wesson on her website WesPsych.com.
The Noncommittal Phase
Although it might seem that you and your date will live in bliss forever, the reality is that infatuation fades. Some couples break up when their vision clears and they realize that all is not perfect. Others move into a phase of getting to know each other better, notes relationship author Christian Carter in an article for eHarmony.com. At this point, the relationship is likely not exclusive, and both partners are evaluating whether they want to move forward with this person. Resist the urge to push things forward too fast. Enjoy your time together while learning how you handle conflicts and other issues together.
Making a Commitment
Many people stop seeing each other during the noncommittal phase. If you are incompatible, it is better to go your separate ways respectfully sooner rather than later. If you get along well and are both ready for a more serious relationship, you might decide to make a commitment to each other. Deciding to enter an exclusive relationship is a serious step, and it is important to take as much time as you need to make that decision. Discuss your relationship and make sure you both understand what dating exclusively means to each of you.
Thinking about the Future
If you are in your late teens or 20s, it is normal to wonder what the future would be like with your current partner. Life changes rapidly in these years, with high school graduation, college, first jobs and new responsibilities. Some couples feel pressured to get married or break up during this time, especially if one person is planning to move far away. If your relationship is strong, it will survive distance. Never marry someone because you are afraid of losing him or, worse, because you are afraid of facing changes alone. If and when you are ready to live together or get married, you will both know. Until then, relax and focus on making your relationship the best it can be for both of you.
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