The Five Phases of Courtship

Non-Verbal Communication and Its Role in Dating

There are five distinct phases of courtship occurring as non-verbal communications that all people, no matter where they live or what culture they belong to, obey and follow in the attempt to create a pair bond. What follows is a short explanation of each of the five phases of courtship, with a link to more detailed information.

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Phase One of Courtship: Attracting Attention

Young couple sitting on bench outdoor.
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The first phase of courtship is letting others know that you are present and available through a variety of means such as posture, clothing, facial expressions, movement, and other related non-verbal communications. Similar to a peacock showing its feathers, this first stage of the courtship process is a complex come-hither dance that combines attention-getting behavior with still what Charles Darwin called 'submissive displays' - but most of us just call it flirting

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Phase Two of Courtship: Reading Body Language

Once the first phase of the courtship process is complete, the next stage is to watch for positive body language from others in close proximity. In the most simple of terms, the second stage of courtship is like yelling, 'Help! in a crowded room and noticing who responds to your cry. This courtship phase is also focused entirely on non-verbal communication.

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Phase Three of Courtship: Verbal Communication

Once the go-ahead has been given in phase two of courtship, verbal communication can occur. This stage still focuses heavily on non-verbal communications, as a simple 'Hello!' can mean a wide variety of things depending on the speakers' body movements and tone of voice. Unfortunately, because of the sheer terror many people feel when making contact with someone they are attracted to, the gross majority of men and women who are drawn to each other for reasons they cannot describe never make it past this courtship phase. By understanding the positive cues being given and received, however, anyone can confidently make the first contact with another knowing whether or not their interaction is welcome

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Phase Four of Courtship: Physical Touch

The fourth phase of courtship can begin innocently with an 'accidental' bumping of one's legs while sitting in close proximity. Depending on how the other person responds, however, determines whether or not a couple can solidly move within and past this courtship phase. For instance, if you try and remove a piece of lint from someone you are attracted to, do they move backward and remove it themselves, or allow you to remove it and initiate physical contact?​

The last stage of courtship may follow for some couples, which includes even more non-verbal communication, such as cuddling, hand-holding, stroking, gazing, kissing and other affectionate movements. Even our voices change when intimate with another person, tapping into the vibrations in our inner ears and creating a whole new sense of closeness. More »