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The 3 Stages of Relationship: Are you Questioning Their Commitment?

queer tantra Sep 29, 2023

It’s been a while now since you first got together and somewhere along the line, the question comes up - is this a relationship? We have cute ways of saying this to each other. “Are we girlfriends?” Or one of you gets brave and pops the question, “Will you be my girlfriend?”  Other times we speak without labels, but with similar nervous excitement, “So, are we gonna do this for real? Both feet in?”

When one person is ready to be both feet in, but the other is not, we are often left questioning whether they are committed. Recently, we explored the three entities in relationship - you, the other person and the relationship itself. All three have unique needs and expectations. Today, we’ll explore commitment and look through a new lens to understand same-sex and queer relating. There may be some surprises in store…

Let’s consider three distinct stages of relating. The first is friendship. 

Stage One: Friends

The boundaries of friendship are pretty clear. Within these boundaries, your relating is platonic. 

But what if I’m attracted to my friend? That’s ok, you’re only human and your friends are hot. No problem. But what keeps your interactions in the realm of friendship is that you don’t do anything with the energy of attraction. You don’t cultivate it, you don’t stoke the flames of the fire. You contain the energy. In yoga and tantra, we call this the practice of brahmacharya or the right use of energy. You can acknowledge the attraction, but you don’t do anything with it.

Stage Two: Lovers

As soon as sexual energy is expressed in any way between two people who are friends, your stage of relating expands into an intimate realm. This is anything sexual from a mutual exchange of sexual energy (or ojas meaning life force) to physical touch that is sexual or sexually intimate in nature. If this is initiated by one person and welcomed, received, and mutually by the other person, then you are now in this new realm of intimacy.

Becoming lovers in this way changes the nature of your relationship from the stage of friendship and expands into an intimate realm. It’s an expansion because it still includes your friendship if you already had one.

At this stage of relating, you are lovers. Some people call this stage dating. In this stage, you are both exploring and the unspoken agreement is we’ll see how this goes. 

Stage Three: Partners

In the third stage of relating, you make a new agreement. Agreements are the architecture of relationships. They make up the structure and scaffolding of the relationship. (Read about the power of agreements in this article: Navigating Intimacy: The Power of Agreements in Queer & Lesbian Relationships)

Usually, this new agreement is spoken out loud and it’s where you declare that you are in a committed relationship or a partnership. We’re girlfriends or partners. It’s a big shift and in this new context, you start to operate from “we’re in this together.” You start to do life together. Often (but not always), that looks like moving in together and planning your weekly schedule to include the other person.

Where do I stand? Where do you stand?

These three stages of relating are important to distinguish between so you know where you stand and where the other person stands. When we start to question someone else’s commitment, sometimes this is because there is a mismatch between the three stages of relating and where each person is standing.

Perhaps the stage of relating has not been acknowledged out loud. You might have subconsciously fallen into operating at stage three (partners) when the relationship is at stage two (lovers). This can cause emotional upsets, unfulfilled expectations, disappointments and frustrations.


People tend to do what they are committed to. Ever heard the saying actions speak louder than words? If they are acting consistently with “we’ll see how this goes”, that makes total sense. They are committed to that. You might wish they were committed to “we’re in this together” but if they’re not, then that will cause some heartache for you - and ultimately them as well. 

For example, if the person you’re being intimate with is operating from “we’ll see how this goes”, they might book an overseas trip that is an amazing career opportunity. They come to you to share their exciting news. If you are operating from “we’re in this together”, you’ll be baffled at their insensitivity and thoughtlessness. They’ll be surprised by your reaction, expecting you to be happy for them. You will then question why you don’t feel happy for them, blame yourself, (or them) and the whole thing will end up with two upset people.

Getting on the same page about what stage of relating you are both committed to, will create clarity in your relationship. You can then both operate from the same stage of relating and stop questioning each other’s commitment.

You can be committed to friendship, committed to seeing how this goes, or committed to doing life together. Being committed is not what’s in question. Getting clear on which context you are both operating in is what needs addressing.

So which context are you in?



P.S. If you like this conversation, you’ll love the #1 problem that keeps queer, lesbian and non-binary couples from having a fulfilling sex life. Download your free gift now.

Hello my friend, 🌈 I'm Danica Lani, your empowering guide on a journey of self-discovery and liberation. With over two decades of yoga practice and a decade of teaching experience, I've led transformative workshops on queer tantra for hundreds of queer-identifying women, non-binary, and trans individuals since 2014. My mission is to empower you to disappear lesbian bed death and for queer people to enjoy long, juicy, and fulfilling lives together. Join me as we discover the power of tantra within a queer context. 🤗💖 #QueerTantra

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