Relationships change quickly over time. Overcoming the hurdles of changing circumstances (especially over the long-term) is largely dependent on how well the couple is able to communicate with each other. For a relationship to continue to grow into something more than just a collection of dates, there must be more than one occasion when the man initiates a DTR. In fact, they should be regular occurrences over the life of the relationship.

DTR’s should not be thought of as unique one-time experiences in the life of the relationship because they have been happening in small measure since the very first date. Anytime a man asks a woman on a date and she says, “yes”, the relationship has been defined between the two. As the man repeats the process of asking a woman out, the relationship gets more and more definition. So, when a couple has an actual conversation about the health and direction of their relationship 2-3 months later, it allows the relationship to grow beyond mere assumptions and hopes and into reality.

So, the method for dates 1-7 over the first 2-3 months should look exactly the same for dates 8-14, 15-22, 23-30 and so on. Every 7 dates or 2-3 months the man should initiate another DTR. Depending upon the age and circumstances of the couple, this process can be repeated as long as desired.

What should dates look like as the relationship continues to grow? Here are some characteristics of what dates should look like as the couple moves beyond the first DTR:

  • Dates can increase in length. The first date should be three hours or less, but once a couple has made it into the sixth month, for example, it is entirely appropriate for dates to last an entire half or full day if so desired. The man needs to make sure, however, that the dates are still planned and enjoyable for her. (Hanging out at her house all day doesn’t count as a date, fellas.)
  • Dates can increase in complexity. Since dates can increase in length, they will also likely need to increase in complexity. The first date is simple because a complex first-date would be “coming on too strong”. However, once the DTR has established the mutual interest of the two, the man is free to become much more creative and elaborate with the dates he designs.
  • Dates can increase in romance-ity. Since the dates will be longer and more complex, they will also likely be more and more romantic. Depending upon what the couple has discussed with regard to the “next level” of the relationship, so the dates should follow. Romance doesn’t always have to be physical (in fact, guys, sometimes it can be more romantic when there is no physical touch). Whatever the case, as slow or as fast as the couple has decided to move, the man must take responsibility to incorporate that degree of romance into the relationship.
  • Dates should increase in intentionality. Dates should always be intentional. The first date’s intentions are small, seeking only to break the ice and get to know one another. Over the course of time, though, the dates shouldn’t just become extended hang-out (or make-out!) sessions. Instead, the man should plan and prepare dates that allow the couple to continue to get to know one another on deeper and more meaningful levels. So, for example, if the man wants to learn what the woman’s character is like in a competitive situation, perhaps they could enjoy an afternoon of Frisbee golf with a few other couples. Not only would the date be fun, but it could also give the couple a chance to get to know a different aspect of the other person’s personality that they wouldn’t have seen otherwise. [Side notes: How well can a couple get to know each other by watching a movie? Yeah. Use the dinner-and-a-movie date sparingly. Also, once the relationship gets past the first DTR (and depending upon what the couple has decided upon) it is not inappropriate for the woman treat the man to a date from time to time (because it gives her the chance to be intentional too).]

As this process continues over months or even years, the relationship should culminate in its final DTR: a proposal for marriage.  Before we get to engagement, though, there is one more step in between that I would like to recommend . . . courtship. More on that in the next post.

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What are some creative dates you have been on or heard of that were not just fun but also great ways to get to know each other?