Undeniably, a lot of things happen between the time of meeting someone and having sex with them. Whether it’s casual sex or formal sex, it follows pretty much the same pattern but the difference comes in the bonding time – the time you take to really know someone before sleeping with them.
Studies have revealed that couples who take time to know their partners before making sexual commitments tend to have long lasting relationships. So before you sleep with that stranger that you have a crush on, consider the following stages for a lasting relationship.
Desmond Morris, a behavioural scientist, studied why marriages last or break. He is credited with describing the 12 stages of intimacy as he explained how couples move from “Who are you?” to “I want out.” Morris explains that the steps do not have to be taken in order but a relationship is likely to be stronger and last longer when couples follow through the stages. He adds that couples who give themselves time to know each other better before moving to the next stage are more likely to last longer than couples who don’t.
Morris’ research demonstrated that women resent being rushed; for instance, a man rushing to have sex is likely to be rejected than a man who takes his time. Interestingly, the couples in the study who revisited all the 12 steps in order tended to enjoy longer lasting relationships than those who didn’t. He also notes that time to bond varies from one couple to another. Here are the 12 stages of physical intimacy as described by Desmond Morris.
1 Eye to body
You are seated in a restaurant alone enjoying your meal. You get a gut feeling that someone is staring at you. You look around and sure enough, someone is. Creepy, right? Don’t fret, the other person is summing you up so as to determine whether they will approach you or not. This is the initial stage of intimacy. Whether we like to admit it or not, the first thing our eyes notice about a person is their body. It tells us whether the person is male or female, their age, personality, size, shape and status. The importance the observer places on these criteria will determine whether they will be attracted to the other person or not. That’s probably why they say first impressions matter.
2 Eye to eye
This is the second stage and it marks the beginning of active interaction. Usually, when two strangers exchange glances, the first instinct is to turn away, usually in embarrassment. If they like what they see, their eyes will meet again and may be followed with a smile, which signals they might be interested to know each other better. It doesn’t matter how many people are in that room; for a moment, it’s just the two of them. Rather than approach each other, they will keep on making eye contact.
3 Voice to voice
When the two eventually meet and speak, the initial conversation is usually trivial with the parties basically interested with each other’s names and what they do for a living. It may also involve small talk about politics or an event that is happening as they learn about each other’s opinion. It is at this stage that they will know whether they are compatible or not. If they are, they will become friends. Contacts will also be exchanged with a promise to keep in touch.
4 Hand to hand
This may be during the first meeting or in another setting. It may be as simple as helping the other cross an obstacle or when a man helps a woman ascend or descend a high step, or as complex as a person rubbing their fingertips smoothly across the other’s arm in a soft caress. It signals the first physical contact between the two and either individual can withdraw from the relationship without rejecting the other overtly. Hand to hand also signals the first act of trust or mistrust (if the other person moves away) and it can progress to hand holding: a signal of a deepening relationship.
5 Hand to shoulder
This can be anything from a simple hug to ballroom dancing. Body language and physical contact will speak volumes at this stage. Are they close to each other, belly to belly or are they struggling to ensure no contact, even accidentally, occurs? The closer the two people are, the more intimate the feeling. Unlike in hand to hand where rejection does not cause hurt, in hand to shoulder, it does even though the parties are still both non-committal. Hand to shoulder reveals something more than close friendship but not love, not just yet.
6 Hand to waist
Admittedly, holding the waist of a person of the opposite sex spells more than mere friendship. At this stage, romance has started creeping in and their conversations are more intimate. Hand to waist is a non-verbal behaviour that’s nearly sexual. At this close range, they can enjoy each other’s scent as well as the feel of body against body. This stage signals increasing acquaintance, growing comfort and intensifying emotional response. Note, they are not facing each other; rather, they are facing forward.
7 Mouth to mouth/ Face to face
It starts with intense gazing of the eyes at close range. Both parties know what is about to happen and are waiting to see who will make the first move. It is characterised by tension. They will kiss and hug as they recover from the experience. They have developed a special code of communication with very few words. This stage is special in that it combines all the previous steps into one: they are noticing each other’s body, they are gazing into each other’s eye, murmuring sweet nothings, holding hands, shoulders and hips/waist as they kiss. Fireworks are going off all over the place, as sexual desire becomes an important part of the relationship.
8 Hand to head
This is an extension of the previous stage and it is a symbol of deepening trust. Holding someone’s head signals something profound and allowing another to freely hold your hand indicates submission to desire. Here, the emotional boundary has been crossed, there is increasing familiarity and a sense of acceptance. The relationship can still be stopped here and be brushed off as time wasted with the wrong person especially if the special level of familiarity is not developing.
9 Hand to body
The kissing and hugging has grown quite intense and the hands start moving around the body. Again, body language plays a great part as the other party allows you a free reign. The couple is here because they have grown completely comfortable with each other. A high level of trust is required. It is the pre-sexual foreplay.
10 Mouth to breast
In the sexual world, licking, nibbling and sucking show sexual desire, high level of emotion and profound trust. At this phase, clothes fall on the floor and there is exploration of the upper part of the body with the mouth. Emotions take the back seat as physical wants take the front seat. One can still turn back at this point with the likelihood of stomped feelings on both sides. It is advisable to keep your shirt and blouse on until you are sure you want to sleep with the person.
11 Hand to genitals
This stage signifies a great act of bonding and trust. Emotions are completely out of the picture as it is all about physical pleasure. There is also commitment as you prepare to give your body to another person. It’s not too late to change your mind now if you are unsure about the step you are about to take – especially if you are not married – although you stand a chance of being labelled a tease.
This is the big Kahuna of relationships. It is the point of no return. You give part of yourself to another person and you will never forget about it. Look at it as “sealing the deal” and you will get the drift. It represents the greatest form of bonding and the zenith of trust. There is expectation of gaining and giving pleasure as intense physical sensation flood the senses.
The steps outlined above are a natural progression for friendships that grow into relationships. That is how it is meant to be but we often tend to move from eye to body to intercourse without thinking about the repercussions of our actions. Human beings are emotional creatures by nature hence we tend to act on our emotions before thinking through it.
These steps give us a chance to think about our actions. As you progress from one stage to another, you prepare yourself to make smart decisions so that by the time you reach stage 12, you have known the person better and are sure this is the right thing to do. Note that moving from one stage to another may take days, months or even years; but you will be glad you made the choice to wait.
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