5 stages of dating

Just as marriages move through stages, so too do dating relationships.

By mapping out the stages you can know what to expect and anticipate the challenges ahead.

Here is where what each person is particularly sensitive to – criticism, control, lack of appreciation, not getting enough attention – begins to stir: Chris starts to feel micromanaged, or Kara feels abandoned and is increasingly resentful of his working weekends.

Here is where couples can begin to argue about who is more hurt, who is too sensitive, arguments that can seem endless or destructive. Often by this time in the relationship real-life experiences become part of the mix and challenge.

But with this is also a relaxing of that walking-on-eggshells behavior.

Chris and Kara are more open about what bothers them, especially if they are living together and can’t use distance to water down their irritations.

Researchers have found that oxytocin levels naturally drop in couples somewhere between 9 and 18 months.

It’s an evolutionally thing; nature is telling you it’s time to stop bonding and swooning about each other, get back to work, start focusing on building a family.

Physical distance keeps the potential emotional conflict at bay: You bite your tongue and by the time the next weekend rolls around your irritation has receded.Here they are: Stage 1: Oxytocin or bust This is where Tasha is at.At this stage of the relationship, chemistry, both emotional and physical, is in the forefront.Here Kara loses her job or Sam's grandmother dies and he is devastated, or Chris has a medical crisis.The couple is challenged to respond as a unit – to be supportive about the job, to come or not to the funeral, to face the medical issues together -- all a testing of the strength of the relationship and each partner's ability to deal with crises and anxiety.

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