The Stages of Courtship
The purpose of this information is to outline for you the big picture
Stage 1: Selection
When you choose—actively or passively—a partner with whom
to begin courtship, selection can be immediate. More often you will meet
an attractive person, and one of you will ask to spend time with the other;
or it can be protracted, when the two of you fence, flirt, and feel each
other out before arranging the first formal date.
Stage 2: Pursuit
What we generally call dating is that awkward time when you are
trying each other on for size, aiming to achieve some degrees of attachment
while holding on to a minimum of guarantees you make. During the phase
of pursuit there is no shared agreement about when and/or how ling you
will be together. There are two parts to this phase: first is seduction
and the second is the switch.
Stage 3: The Relationship
When you share some assumptions about the importance of your connection,
you have each settled into and acknowledged your increased degree of emotional
attachment. You are no longer "dating," you are "going
together." During this period you are coping with your individual
expectations of what it means to be a couple. Within this phase, the relationship
is divided into three often-overlapping phases. The plateau phase
is a brief or delightfully prolonged fantasy land when you are secure
as a couple but have yet to conflict as individuals.
Negotiation occurs when a couple begins to acknowledge their differences
and struggles to develop a decent way to fight about them. Commitment
is the phase of a relationship in which a couple works out, fights
out, or eases in the decision to marry.
Remember, you will not go through this phase in a straight line from
"selection though pursuit" on to a "relationship."
Instead you will feel like you're going through a process like loop-the-loop.
It will look like first seduction: she chases him; he acts interested;
she loses interest (the switch); he backs off (his switch); she regains
interest and then there's more seduction. If you keep pursuing, the individuals
reach a plateau and begin to face their differences… quarrelling
will begin here. If they learn the art of negotiation, the relationship
will go on.
Remember, the stages are not equal in length. As you progress through
the stages of courtship, you progress toward intimacy. This process can
take 18 months to two years.
This material was adopted from the book A Fine Romance
by Judith Sills, Ph.D.
Last week: What's Your Closeness Quotient?