If there is interest in making your relationship a 1-on-1 romance, you’ll then talk about advancing to Relationship Level 2, which is a commitment to date and have sex only with each other. Instead of focusing on looking for and getting to know one new person after another, you'll spend your free time with each other, learning and growing and having fun together. Your friends and family know that you have a girlfriend/boyfriend now, and probably start inviting you to places as a unit. You are an official, acknowledged couple to the world.
Relationship Level 3 is a big step because it usually involves moving in together. Be careful with this though, because being around someone 24/7/365 is huge and often stressful. Some people refer to this as "a trial marriage" when in reality it is no such thing. It’s like saying you have a "trial pregnancy." Ha! Get real! You’re either pregant or not, married or not. I've found the people who choose to move in together vs. marry do so because they are looking for something to be wrong in the relationship. They set things up so they can get out of the relationship unscathed. Living together is their hedge clause and backup insurance plan against deep hurt and financial losses. They live loose and easy not putting their all into the relationship... having a great time sexually and sharing expenses, but always with a critical eye for what's wrong instead of looking for what is right.
Relationship Level 4 is reached when the two of you decide you want to be together for the rest of your lives, and take the next step. He proposes, you say yes, you are now engaged.
Parents get happy phone calls, your single friends cry, and wedding plans are begun in earnest. Sometimes expectations change due to the fact that people have fantasies about gender roles and what it means to be a husband or wife. I suggest you talk about these visions and fantasies openly and honestly. It’s important that you each know what is expected of you and the marriage. If you have some sticking points that are non-negotiable, your partner needs to know what they are long before you walk down the aisle! Love is not enough to sustain a marriage if each partner isn’t getting what they truly need from the other. Find out what your partner needs and decide if you can or cannot meet those needs before you move on to the next level.
People that are in a hurry to "get to the good part" or that want to avoid the necessary negotiations and possible conflicts often skip this step. Most end up divorced 18-24 months later.
Finally, when you take that wonderful, tear filled walk down the aisle and say "I DO" you’ve reached Relationship Level 5.
Hope this explains the whole relationship thing for you guys. I don't want you to be surprised when the woman you’ve been seeing and sleeping with for most of the year suggests you two go away for a weekend to celebrate your six month anniversary! Don’t you dare say you didn’t know that you "were in a relationship."
Living The Single Life : Surviving Dating