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The 4 Stages of Relationships

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There are some distinct stages that lead to healthy relationships. Like a great coach preparing his players for the big game, Dane Cunningham, author of, “Risky Relationships” walks us through those stages. Using easy to absorb illustrations and straight talk, Cunningham shows us the path to building healthy relationships that last.

by Dane Cunningham

The Natural Stages of a Relationship
What would happen if a woman gave birth 3 months after she conceived? The duration of a normal pregnancy is approximately 10 months. The development of the child from embryo to fetus and finally to newborn occurs within 3 trimesters.

Each trimester represents a stage that the child needs to develop. If a woman gave birth shortly after she conceived, the child would not be fully developed and could possibly die. The same principle applies to our relationships. When we do not take our time going through the natural stages of a relationship, it's likely the relationship will not develop properly and it could die prematurely.

The 4 Basic Stages of Relationships Are:


Casual acquaintance

Intimate acquaintance


Have you ever met someone for the first time and thought to yourself, "they are a really nice person?" Although they may have created a great first impression, you must not loose sight of the fact that they are a stranger and you don't know enough about them to determine if they are a nice person or not.

A snake in the grass may look like a stick until it bites you. Most of us are like chameleons in that we have the ability to take the color of our environment. We wear social masks with different personas for different situations. Therefore when we meet a stranger, it is likely you're meeting their persona and not their true character.

Casual Acquaintance
Communication is an important tool in relationships. It is used to go from the person being a stranger to them becoming a casual acquaintance. It is said that 10% of communication is verbal and the other 90% is non-verbal, which includes voice tone, eye-to-eye contact and body language. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like duck, it's probably a duck.

In a casual acquaintance relationship, you may go beyond studying the person by just looking at them and begin to see if their talk matches their walk. This can be done in a very informal manner whether it be at the office, church or any other environment that gives you the opportunity to be observant.

Intimate Acquaintance
If you dial someone's home number and you miss a digit, you will not get through. The same should be so for establishing an intimate acquaintance. If they do not connect with the right place in the home of your spirit and soul, they should not get through your invisible, emotional wall. An intimate acquaintance will get to know personal details about you that if revealed in public could be embarrassing.

The law of magnetism in essence says like people are attracted to one another. Any person who gets emotionally close to you should have enough in common with you that you are able to support and comfort one another in a time of need.

Have you ever thought somebody was your friend only to find that they were only a casual acquaintance? Calling somebody a friend without going through the stages of relationships is like calling a child an adult simply because their body is developed.

A friend is an intimate companion that loves you unconditionally and has proven that they can be trusted. God gives us friends to be with us in the good and the bad times. We should not be so quick to call people friends, but allow the relationship to develop over time just like an embryo develops from a fetus to a healthy child.

Are you willing to take your time and allow God to guide you through the stages of relationships?

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by Dane Cunningham

Dane Cunningham Dane Cunningham is one busy man! He is CEO of (E.R.S.) Embrace Relationships Seminars where he addresses adult relationships from the biblical perspective through life changing teaching sessions. He is also the Singles' Director at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, pastored by Bishop Eddie Long. A prolific writer, Cunningham is the author of: Take a Look Within and Risky Relationships. You can visit his website at:

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© Dane Cunningham. 2005
All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

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