- In the first level of dating, you're attempting to find out if you're attracted to a person in a romantic way. You're not yet exclusive, and should feel free to see other people casually as well. There are generally no expectations of the other person at this point. Here, you should spend your time figuring out if you'd like to continue seeing the other person in "that way."
- After you've had a few casual dates, you might set up dates several weekends in a row, or as often as possible. At this point, things might be getting somewhat more serious. Some people might refer to it as "seeing each other" or "going together," but it doesn't necessarily imply exclusivity. It can be a confusing stage, especially if you're starting to develop more serious feelings about the person, and you're unsure if he's still dating other people. It might be time to talk about whether you two want to become exclusive.
- After you've had the "exclusive talk," and only after you've had the talk, you have become a true couple. At this stage, you're telling each other that you are special to one another, and that you don't feel the need to look for anyone else. By being exclusive, you eliminate competition, thus saving your energy for each other. However, it's also easy to get complacent at this level, so remember to continue doing the nice things that you did for each other at the first two levels.
- At this level, you've been exclusively dating for quite a while, although the exact time is up to you. You and your partner should be as comfortable around each other as you are around anyone else, possibly even more. After you've seen each other's flaws, and you still agree to be with one another, you're bonded in the closest way possible. You also might decide that you want to be with each other for the rest of your lives. If this is true, then you will get engaged.
- Marriage is the final stage of dating. You've decided upon the ultimate exclusivity. You've promised each other that you will refrain from seeing anyone else in a romantic way for the rest of your lives. Before you get to this stage, it's important to have gone through the previous stage of engagement. You should not marry unless you're aware of, and are comfortable with, your partner's flaws. Marriage is a lifelong commitment, and will require you to stay strong, even in the hardest of times. Remember why you fell in love with this person, and always remember to continue doing the things that you did for each other at the early levels of your relationship.