It has been suggested that as relationships develop there are a number of stages.  These stages are not necessarily obvious, nor do they have to be rigid.

1-Sampling

The individual screens out those that are not in the picture, usually on the basis of superficial information.  The need for different types of relationships means that people may be included in one type of relationship and excluded from others.

2-Bargaining

This is continuous and involves an initial formation of an acquaintanceship followed by an assessment of potential pros and cons.

3-Commitment

This is mutual recognition that the relationship exists, and there is public or private expression.

 4-Institutionalisation

The relationship may be formalized, e.g. through marriage.

As relationships develop, there is also an increase in the following:

  • Intensity of like or love.
  • Depth and breadth of information exchanged.
  • Actual and expected length of the relationship.
  • Value of resources exchanged – each person invests more resources in the relationship, and analyses their inputs and outputs, and possibly compare the relationship to other relationships
  • Inter-changeability of resources

Togetherness…tendency to define themselves as a unit to the outside world.