Everyone has experienced that confusing time between casually dating someone and calling what you have a real relationship with an intimate partner. It can be a dilemma trying to figure out the difference between dating and a relationship. It is common to assume you are in a relationship by the amount of time and energy you have put into seeing another person. You feel special and there are good indicators of a true partnership.
There seems to be a lot of unspoken rules about what it means to casually date, exclusively date, or be in a relationship. To make it more confusing than necessary to figure out where your relationship stands we add in personal views, social media, and the internet.
If you are wondering if you are exclusively dating or if you are in a committed relationship, this article may help you.
While dating someone you allow yourself to freely spend time with someone without a real promise of a long-lasting and long-term partnership.
The Difference Between Dating and a Relationship
The main difference between dating and being in a relationship is that people in a relationship connect by a mutual commitment to each other. How you define casual dating and being in an actual, committed relationship is the basis of the relationship you have with the other person.
Being a casual dater you may go to see a movie with some friends. In a relationship, the person you are seeing becomes your go-to person when the movie hits the theaters. One difference is that in a relationship, you are communicating every little thing that goes on in your life with your partner.
In dating, you tend to share what is relevant at the time. A major key difference between a relationship and dating is that dating can be intimately physical; a relationship has more emotional intimacy.
To distinguish the difference between a relationship and dating try focusing on the type of intimacy that you are having with the person. This is one of the reasons the Girls Ask Guys Show podcast focuses on communication. It builds the emotional intimacy needed for a true, loving relationship where both of you provide emotional attention and respect.
As a higher level of emotional intimacy begins to develop through the conversations you have, the topics discussed deepen your relationship bond. The commitment you feel towards one another deepens. This leads to physical intimacy becoming more meaningful and open as you move from casual dating to dating exclusively. This then leads to the partnership becoming a defined relationship. You start to feel more like their number one as this takes place. There is one question a lot of people tend to ask.
How Long Should We Date Before Making It Official?
There isn’t a hard answer to this. However, understanding the general four stages of the difference between dating and a relationship can help.
Relationship Stage 1
The first stage is of course the initial meeting. Everything has to start somewhere and you have to meet someone before anything else can happen.
Relationship Stage 2
The next stage is the curiosity, interest, and infatuation stage. You could call this relative dating. Depending on the levels of self-understanding, maturity, and experience this can last about 3 or 4 months. It is in this stage of early attraction where interests, outward appearance, and personality traits play a large role. You overlook any kind of difference as both of you are putting your best foot forward. A result is that not many arguments are going to take place during this time. Close to the end of it, you may start to ask where the relationship is heading or “is this person right for me?”
Relationship Stage 3
Stage three is the place you want to spend most of your time. This is the “becoming a couple” stage with serious dating. You notice weaknesses and flaws and those “cute” habits tend to become annoying. The trust becomes stronger as you share more intimacies and the connection becomes deeper.
Communication has to be strong in this stage as you expect an answer to the big question. The question of “what are we” start to take over thoughts and feelings as each person looks for some type of commitment. Women tend to start ask this before men do which is why some men tend to start to feel trapped or pushed in this stage.
Communication is key and this important stage is the place you want to take your time. You should have shared time and make good progress in a relationship discussion before moving to a greater level.
Relationship Stage 4
The final stage is the commitment stage. This is where couples have a real sense of their partner’s lifestyle, values, and goals for the future. This is a serious relationship territory. Both of you have an established relationship with your partner’s friends and family. In this stage, you should be having open and honest conversations about topics that you did not talk about in stage two. Along with this, you should be learning to handle any differences. It is important to learn and evaluate the relationship while developing an emotional intelligent relationship as the entire relationship can break. It is best to work on this at this stage before getting married and ending up in a divorce.
How Do I Know Where I’m At In My Relationship?
Here are some signs to help show the difference between dating, dating exclusively, and a relationship. You’re still dating if you tinker with your favorite dating site and still possibly considering other options. You’re not ready to pay the relationship price of absolute dating.
You are dating exclusively if the other person has beat everyone else who was a potential choice. You are no longer seeing anyone else and you’re dating profiles are, at least, put on hold. Your emotional investment is in one person whom you see as the real deal.
You are spending more time with the person but you haven’t had an explicit conversation about where the relationship is going. Your being realistic and weighing options. You’re not seeing anyone else, but keeping a few people on the back burner just in case. This is exclusive dating moving towards a relationship.
You are in a relationship if there is some type of goal of longevity or commitment. This is not something that is assumed or held in fantasy. Both of you can imagine a combined future with them as your spouse. If you have fully integrated the other person into your life, you are in a relationship. They share in your big life moments.
If your partner’s mom calls to chat with you, you are in a relationship.
Let’s Make This Super Simple
Try to think of your love life as getting a job. I know but bear with me on this. You fill out the application and go through the pre-interviews. That would be stage one. You pass that and get a trial period on the job before being considered for the position. You make it through the temp phase and get hired full time with a corner office at the company. Time passes and you get the keys to the front door of the building. You start decorating the bathroom, and then move your clothes into the closet and dresser.
We hope this helps in answering the question of the differences between dating and a relationship. More questions, answers, and topics are covered on the Girls Ask Guys Show podcast. You can listen to the show on all major podcast platforms.