A behavioral scientist named Desmond Morris became interested in why some couples stay together for life, and why some divorce. After studying many couples, he found that the ones who stayed together were the ones who had followed similar progressions of intimacy, leaving sufficient time before advancing to the next stage. He theorized that this gave the couple time to sufficiently bond during the courtship phase of the their relationship. Couples who rushed through these steps usually didn't have as strong a bond, and were far more likely to divorce.

  1. Eye to Body
    • This step is almost insignificant. All it means is that one person has seen another. This stage usually passes quickly.
  2. Eye to Eye
    • This is the stage of eye contact. Each person knows the other has seen them, and this may be the beginning of flirting.
  3. Voice to Voice
    • In this stage, the couple begins to talk to each other. Can be one sided, or a dialogue.
  4. Hand to Hand
    • This stage is holding hands. This is when the relationship begins to deepen from simple friendship.
  5. Arm to Shoulder
    • Putting the arm around the shoulder of the other person signifies a deepening closeness and intimacy. When holding hands there still is often some space between the partners, but in the Arm to shoulder stage closeness is practically intrinsic.
  6. Arm to Waist
  7. Mouth to Mouth
    • This is the stage when the couple begins kissing.
  8. Hand to Head
    • Touching other people's heads is highly intimate, partially because so many vital senses are concentrated in the head. This is a sign of deepening trust to allow someone else to touch your head.
  9. Hand to Body
    • This is the stage where foreplay begins.
  10. Mouth to Breast
    • Foreplay continues, obviously.
  11. Hand to Genitals
  12. Sexual Intercourse

The thing to note about this progression is that it tends to be almost automatic. Morris' research suggests particularly that women resent being rushed through the steps. If a person is interested in lifelong marriage, then, it makes sense to practice restraint, and work through the steps at a relaxed pace.

Also notably, couples who repeatedly reinforce the entire progression tend to stay together longer than those who don't.

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