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“Seeing these three stages in a developmental frame can really help students,” said Erickson.When you understand that each stage serves a different purpose and each stage can help you prepare for your future marriage, it might help you be more patient when searching for future spouse. This stage consists of group dates, hanging out and spending time with members of the opposite sex.“That’s a frustration,” he said, “and an impediment to having a good healthy marriage over the long run.” “Marriage has the potential to be really refining and call out your best sense of character, values and love, but it’s not going to automatically do something to make you good or special,” he said.When you have a more realistic vision of what marriage is going to be like, you can better prepare for that time in your life as well as be okay with where you are in your life right now. Marriage is a wonderful goal to work towards, but it isn’t the end-all, be-all of life.“But at some point in phase two, an individual can be think ‘I know what I want from a partner, I know what I want to be as a partner,’ and then they move on to phase three.” Phase three is when individuals really are ready to begin dating for marriage.“This is where individuals start to find people they want to commit their lives to,” said Erickson.Marriage doesn’t instantly transform you into a perfect individual.Mark Ogletree, a licensed family counselor, said, “When couples first get married, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling marriage is a destination.
“It’s about coming to understand the individual’s identity, having fun and feeling more independent.” Erickson also said that phase one is not the time to be thinking about marriage.
They made it through the engagement, through all these obstacles, and now they are there.
What they don’t realize is that they haven’t even started yet.” “Couples often want things to be perfect very fast, and they also want to be financially where their parents are.
Erickson said that phase two usually starts when the individual is in college.
He said, “depending on your needs and life experiences, this phase could last a while.” This phase is all about learning how to be in adult romantic relationships, figuring out the type of person you want to be with and learning how to become the type of partner you want to be.
Young couples and those beginning to look for potential spouses can create realistic expectations for marriage by talking with their parents or other couples who have been where they are or will be.