Some of those perpetual issues or differences such as free-spending or frugal, neat and orderly or sloppy and disorganized, interested in lots of time together or more involved in outside activities begin to emerge.

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There are 4 predictable stages that couples experience in a dating relationship.

At each stage, there is often a decision (sometimes more thoughtfully arrived at than others) to move forward or to end the relationship.

This is also an important stage for couples to use to evaluate the relationship and their ability to be part of an emotionally intelligent relationship.

Engagements can be broken much more easily and can clearly be a better decision than getting married and divorced.

Going slowly in making any decisions about a relationship are more likely to be better ones than moving quickly (unless it is clear that the relationship is not a good fit).

Stage 3: “Enlightenment” and Becoming a Couple During this stage of a relationship, hormones are calming down and reality sets in. Trust is stronger and more intimacies may be shared at this stage as couples take away some of their “best face” and allow themselves to act more naturally and relaxed.

Dating someone younger—whether you’re two or three years his senior or are talking cougar territory—certainly can work (look at Eva Longoria and her 4-years younger beau), but being an “older woman” in a relationship does tend to come with certain perks and downfalls.

If you want to make things work, be sure you can handle the following. Men reach their sexual prime in their twenties due to a spike in testosterone, while women typically reach theirs in their 30s and 40s.

Both halves of a couple will notice weaknesses and differences or flaws.

“Cute” habits might become irritating at this stage.

“ Women have a tendency to ask this question before men, even though both may be wondering about the answer to this question.