5 Stages of Dating

advice: dating john gray

Whether you are starting over, just starting to date, or you’re pursuing a relationship with someone special, one thing doesn’t seem to change: the journey from first date to marriage is full of unknown pitfalls.

Although dating can be confusing, painful, and full of challenges, the greatest reward is finding a Soul Mate and building a life together.

In this blog, I explain the five stages that couples should move through to create lasting love and what mistakes both men and women make at each of the five stages — from Attraction to Engagement — so you’ll know what to do instead.

How Do You Find a Soul Mate?


The first thing you should do when looking for love is to stop looking for it.


I know that sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true. You should focus on yourself first. Love yourself first. Prepare yourself, so you are ready when your Soul Mate shows up for you.


How Do You Know When Someone Is Right for You?


Moving through my 5 Stages of Dating gives you the power to “just know” when the right person enters your life. The 5 Stages also gives you the understanding to “just know” when you are with the wrong person.

Just because you love someone doesn’t mean that person is the right one for you. It takes times and a journey through the 5 Stages of Dating to recognize your true life partner. Soul Mates are never perfect. But when your heart is open, and you know them, they are perfect for you.


So What Are the 5 Stages of Dating?


Basically, there are five stages of dating that couples go through to grow into a more serious relationship. It helps to have a strong understanding of each stage so you can better navigate the dating world, and find the right partner for you.

I will explain the five stages now, but my book, Mars and Venus on a Date, goes far deeper into explaining them with real examples and strategies for navigating the dating scene.


Stage One: Attraction

The secret to the Attraction Stage is staying true to who you are while still expressing your best and most positive self. This can be a challenge for both men and women because we forget how our language and behavior may be misinterpreted.


Tips for Women

A common misunderstanding women have of men is that they should communicate like women.

Many women make the mistake of assuming that the more a woman listens to a man with great interest, the more he will be interested in listening to her. Unfortunately, the more a man talks, the more he becomes interested in what he is talking about — and stops thinking about her.

In order for a man to be interested in a woman, she should do more of the talking and share herself in a positive manner. She should also avoid dwelling on negative feelings or problems in her life because he may assume she is difficult to please.

Talking too much and putting it all out there right away can feel like too much information to a man and turn him off.


Tips for Men

In order for a woman to be interested in a man, he should do something to make her feel special. This could simply be when he notices her, he initiates eye contact and gives her a sincere compliment.

When he offers these gestures without expecting anything else other than the pleasure of getting to know her, he becomes more attractive.

A woman is attracted to a man who shows interest in her, so he should also take the time to ask questions, listen, and get to know her more than talking about himself and offering advice.

He could try some open questions like:

  • What do you like to do for fun?
  • Tell me about your work.
  • Tell me about your family.


The Challenge

The challenge during the first stage of dating is to make sure you get the opportunity to express your attraction and get to know a potential partner. The man should chase and the girl should let him.


Stage Two: Uncertainty

Just as the first stage of dating is a time to meet and get to know a variety of people, the second stage is the time to focus on one person and give that relationship a chance to grow.

Men and women experience uncertainty differently. While a man tends to question whether he wants to pursue a relationship, a woman tends to question where the relationship is going.


Uncertainty for Him

When a man is uncertain, he tends to question whether he wants to pursue the relationship or keep pursuing other women. He may really like her, but he questions whether she can give him what he wants.

When a man is uncertain, he should ask himself:

  • Could I be the right man for her?
  • Do I care for her?
  • Do I want to make her happy?
  • Do I miss her when we are apart?

 If a man doesn’t understand that uncertainty is part of the dating process, he can get stuck in a cycle of serial relationships.


Uncertainty for Her

When a woman is uncertain, she tends to focus on where the relationship is going. She often senses the man pulling away and worries if she did something wrong or if he is with someone else.

When a man comes on strong in Stage One and then pulls back in Stage Two, a woman sometimes feels like chasing him or giving him more. This can sabotage the relationship.

As she is looking for his reassurance, she often makes one of two common mistakes:

  1. She asks him where the relationship is going.
  2. She tries to win him over by being too pushy or giving up herself.

 Both of these approaches can push him away or prevent him from feeling confident that he is the right man for her. Instead of letting him continue to please her, her attempts to please him can cause him to lose interest.

If and when she is not sure where her relationship is going, she should find support from her friends. This gives her time and space to think about whether he is really the right person for an exclusive relationship.


The Challenge

The challenge in Stage Two of Dating is to recognize that uncertainty is normal during the dating process. Without a good understanding of the uncertainty stage, it is easy for a man to drift from one partner to another and for a woman to make the mistake of pursuing a man more than he is pursuing her.


Stage Three: Exclusivity

The Third Stage of Dating begins when both people feel a desire to date each other exclusively. Both of them want the opportunity to give and receive love in a special relationship without competition. They want to relax and have more time to share with one partner.

The Exclusivity Stage begins with a conversation and a commitment to stop seeing other people. Exclusivity must not be assumed without talking about it and coming to an agreement.

Many people believe that if they are sexually involved, then they are exclusive. However, sex is not a requirement for exclusivity.


Exclusivity for Him

When a man moves into the exclusivity stage, he can often grow complacent in the relationship. He may assume that he has done all he needs to do to win a willing partner. This can cause him to stop doing the things that made him so attractive to her in the beginning.

This is not the time for him to sit home and assume that the work of building a romance is over. He needs to continue to take the time to explore what she likes and plan romantic dates together.

Romance fuels her attraction for him. If he relaxes too much, she may stop responding to him like the way she did during the first two stages of dating.


Exclusivity for Her

After she has agreed to be exclusive, her greatest challenge is asking him for support. She often assumes that he will start to do things without being asked.

Just as his romantic gestures reassure her that she is special, her requests encourage him to continue giving her what she needs. She becomes more attractive to him when he knows what she wants, and he feels confident that he can fulfill her.

She should continue receiving his efforts with positive responses. She may want to do more, but when she feels she is giving more, she can lose her appreciation and attraction for him.


The Challenge

The challenge in the Third Stage of Dating is to avoid becoming too comfortable and stop doing the little things that make the other person feel special. He needs to continue being romantic, planning dates, and chasing her. She needs to ask for what she wants and be receptive and responsive to his efforts.



Stage Four: Intimacy

Once both people have experienced chemistry on all four levels — physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual — they are ready to experience the real and lasting love that can grow in the Fourth Stage of Dating: Intimacy.

This is the time to relax and just get to know each other on a deeper, more personal level. It’s also important to point out that the Intimacy Stage is a lifelong journey.

They should continue to open up more and share her thoughts, feelings, and vulnerabilities. He should continue to express his love, show more interest and desire, and look forward to regular physical intimacy.

Both of them should grow closer and feel the joy of a deeper emotional connection and increased physical contact.


Tips for Men

The biggest challenge for him during this stage is to understand that she will show more vulnerability in the relationship. Her emotions will tend to rise and fall — like a wave.

She may feel very loving and happy for consecutive days, but once her emotions reach their peak, her wave crashes, and she has very little to give. She may feel overwhelmed, insecure, or resentful, but he should avoid taking it personally.

This is when he needs to draw from the skills he learned in Stage Three, and continue to give his best without expecting an immediate return. He should avoid trying to talk her out of her feelings. Rather than give solutions, he should provide greater understanding, empathy and just listen.


Tips for Women

Just as her feelings tend to rise and fall with the increased intimacy, men experience the need to get close and pull awaylike a rubber band.

The more intimate a man becomes with a woman, the more he will sometimes feel a need to have some distance. This is normal. Each time he pulls away, his love grows as he experiences missing her and wanting to be close again.

This back-and-forth urge is natural for a man and mimics the testosterone production in his body. This goes against a woman’s basic instinct, so it is difficult for her to support him in the process. As a result, she may unknowingly sabotage the growth of a man’s love and attraction for her by pursuing him or trying to convince him to return.

His need to pull away will decline less and less as emotional intimacy deepens in the relationship. A man’s tendency to pull away is most extreme when he experiences intimacy before he is ready. If a man gets close to a woman before he has experienced chemistry on all four levels — physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual — he may not come back when he pulls away. If he has not experienced enough love, then the rubber band breaks.


The Challenge

The challenge during the Intimacy Stage is understanding how each person handles intimacy and giving that person what they need when they need it.

He can struggle with his need to be autonomous while also being committed. She struggles with avoiding the urge to chase him.


Stage Five: Engagement

The final stage of dating happens when the couple decides to make the ultimate commitment and get married. Both people are clear that they want to be with one another forever. It is a time to build a life and make future plans.

Engagement is also the best time for a couple to practice before they are married. Marriage is like a magnifying glass — everything becomes bigger. As the love grows, so do the problems and pressures.

It is a great time to practice the two most important skills of staying married: the ability to apologize and the ability to forgive.

Apologies and forgiveness are interdependent. When one partner apologizes, that makes it easier for the other to find forgiveness. When one partner is very forgiving, that makes it easy for the other to apologize.

It is difficult for a man to apologize for his mistakes when he does not sense he will be forgiven. It is equally difficult for a woman to forgive a man’s mistakes when he does not apologize.

When a woman deliberately chooses to focus on creating a positive and receptive attitude by forgiving, she then discovers how much a man really wants to please her and support her. She experiences and learns that her love — not her punishments — brings out the best in him.


The Bottom Line


It is important to respect all 5 Stages of Dating. Sometimes, both partners are too eager, and they skip stages together. This does not necessarily mean that they will not make it through all the stages, but it does mean that they will not gain the insights and ability necessary to build a strong foundation for the relationship to grow.

Throughout the 5 Stages of Dating, it is important to understand why he should pursue, and she should create opportunities to be pursued. She is the jewel, and he should remember to always provide the right setting for her to shine.

Marriage is a lifetime commitment. It is a sacred promise that goes deeper than dating. It is a meaningful ritual that marks a new stage of life. It reminds you who you are and releases you to become who you are meant to be.

Throughout my book, Mars and Venus on a Date, I explain the 5 Stages of Dating in greater detail. The book is full of valuable insights about how men and women approach dating differently and helps couples to correctly interpret their partners so they will not be misunderstood.


Grow in love,


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