So it has finally happened. You've met someone you are convinced is the one you want to spend your life with. For you, this is true beyond the shadow of a doubt. The difficulty is that you are not quite positive that he or she feels the same way about the relationship as you do. You want to take the relationship to the next level, but you aren't sure how to know when it is the right time, or how to do it.
A couple goes through several accepted stages in their relationship in our society, and if they get stalled at some point, miss one of these steps, or try to jump ahead, they are often seen as eccentric, maladjusted, or at least offbeat and different somehow. But if one of the couple does this and the other person is not on board, it can have unpredictable results. It might be the right thing to do, or it might end the relationship forever. So how do you know when the time is right for the next step?
It Depends Upon Your Situation
Are you just at the early stage of becoming an official couple? Have you gotten to the point where the only logical step is to move in together? Maybe you both are way past that step and you are thinking it's time to get engaged. Then it would be the proposal and the planning of the wedding. After getting married, is it time to have children, or another child after the first or second one? Which level your relationship is currently at will determine how you should proceed.
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Which Stage Are You At In Your Relationship?
Each of these stages are extremely important to a relationship, no matter how large or insignificant they may seem to be at the time. Knowing the right time to begin the new phase is as important as being a couple in the first place, but each stage is different and has different characteristics. In the early stages, there is uncertainty about each other, no matter how much love and passion a couple is experiencing. For these stages, small, tentative steps, with consensus established at each step, is the way to go.
Communicate With Your Partner
Once a couple has been together long enough to develop that sense of wordless sharing and intuitive understanding, a different kind of decision making process takes precedence. Couples are sometimes able to decide that it's time to start a family, for example, without having to feel each other out and try to determine what the other person is thinking about the question. But again, it depends on the couple - many people simply have to talk things out explicitly and specifically until there is no doubt that it's time to have a baby.
The truth is that no matter what level you are at in a relationship or what level you are deciding to advance to, it's up to you as a couple to make the decision to go to the next level - not what others are doing, not what friends and family might think, and certainly not what society at large thinks. The best advice is that as you become stronger as a couple and understand each other more, these stages will come more and more naturally and easily. So relax - it can only get better.
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Grace Pamer is the founder of RomanceNeverDies