Most couples get the order wrong. Lots of couples just dive headlong into relating—working out their issues and differences. Others skip even that step and start right out in bed—mating.
You might ask, “Does it matter?” And, yes, based on our research it does. Successful couples are much more likely to date for a period of several weeks before they start relating and then mating.
Mating too soon in the process causes several problems.
After we’ve become physically involved with someone, most of us tend to feel more invested in the relationship. We want the other person to be the “right” one so we start overlooking things about them. And we try to put forward our own best foot. This results in us hiding aspects of ourselves that might turn him or her off.
And this is the wrong approach during the dating stage. We WANT to have a low investment during the dating stage so that we can easily walk away. That’s the point of dating. It’s a numbers game. The idea is not to try hard to make the wrong person into the right person. The idea is to find the right person.
Do you really want the person who quickly jumps into the sack with you—and probably with others—to become your partner? For most people there is a conflict. We may want the person to whom we’re very attracted to go to bed with us, but we don’t want our life partner to be sexually “casual” or “easy.”
And, finally, there is value in allowing the erotic/sexual tension to build during the dating stage and even during part of the relating stage. This ability to postpone gratification is a sign of maturity. And maturity is the single most important quality we’ve identified in couples who have successful romantic relationships.
So, we strongly invite you to consider the importance of going through the stages in the right order. If you want to learn more about our ideas on Dating ∞ Relating ∞ Mating, view our introductory video.
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Last reviewed: 1 Apr 2014