Yes, you read that right. There is a difference between dating and being in a relationship. This is how the confusion starts. A relationship is like a rollercoaster. You feel afraid to get into it, but once you do, it is thrilling and exciting. But more than that, navigating the stages of a relationship can be confusing, especially when it starts off as casual dating. You are confused about whether it is still a casual thing or has become serious. Those butterflies in your stomach keep fluttering because you want to know where it is going!
The transition from dating to a relationship is a difficult and confusing one. You can’t read the other person’s thoughts and you are too afraid to ask questions but there are still a lot of concerns. How long do you date before being in a relationship? When are you ready to go exclusive? Because, let’s be honest, some people are pros at avoiding the “where is it going” question and you don’t want to scare them away when things have just begun sizzling.
Dating vs Relationship
The dating to relationship transition obviously doesn’t happen overnight. Well, maybe in a chick flick or a Romcom, but in real life, sadly it doesn’t. It takes some time for your emotions to evolve and for you to realize that you’ve found the one you were looking for all along. So at what point does dating become a relationship? When do you know that this is it?
Well, there are a few dating relationship stages involved. While they may vary from relationship to relationship, here’s what they broadly entail:
- First date: You go on a first date. Have a great conversation and feel like going out another time
- More dates follow: You like spending time with each other. Go out on more dates. This is the stage of infatuation
- Comfort zone: Everything is going on great. You get comfortable and are yourselves in front of each other
- Love blooms: You realize that you are in love and dating is not enough
- You’re in a relationship: You both take it to the next level and Boom! Congratulations, you are in a relationship
So how do you know that you’ve both entered stage four? Here are 8 differences that will help you identify your relationship status without risking scaring your partner away.
8 Differences Between Dating And Being In A Relationship
Dating and relationships are two different hemispheres. People often confuse them. If you are seeing someone, it doesn’t mean that you are in a relationship. You could be dating but not in a relationship. There may seem to be a thin line between a relationship and dating, but there is much more to it.
So you might now be wondering, what is the difference between dating and relationships? Dating can be a fling that involves casual sex and fun, but a relationship is a more serious and romantic affair. There is more love than lust and being your ‘stupid careless self’ is okay. Let us see the difference between dating and being in a relationship.
Related Reading: Are You Falling In Love Too Fast? 8 Reasons You Should Slow Down
1. Relationship involves seeing each other exclusively
Dating is a stage where you want to keep your options one to be able to find ‘the one’. Well, you may or may not be seeing other people when you are dating, but the option for dating someone else is always open. You haven’t established the rules of being exclusive.
When you are in a relationship, you want to spend most of your time with that one person who makes your heart skip a beat. There is no question of seeing someone else. It is like someone has pulled ahead of the pack and you are no more looking around. Your relationship is exclusive and there is no room for any doubt.
2. You say “I love you” to each other
The time throughout your dating, the most that you will get out of your partner is “I like you” or “I love spending time with you”. There will be moments of intimacy but those three words remain elusive. And for good reason, as saying I love you too soon can be a disaster.
The moment you start saying “I love you” to each other without having to think twice about whether it is too soon is when you’re ready to progress to relationship territory. It is a gesture that clearly says that you’re both ready to take it to the next level.
3. You become his priority, he yours
Guys follow the rule of ‘bros before hoes’. Friends and family top the priority list and they might make an exception if it is a booty call. You both go out on dates only when both of you are free. He will make time for you, but will not prioritize you above else.
In a relationship, you both go out of the way to make time for each other. Even a half-hour catching up is enough to make your day. You both cancel plans with your friends so that you both can spend more time together. That shows that you have prioritized each other over everyone else.
Related Reading: Is your man with you just for sex? 20 signs to watch out!
4. Relationship allows you to be comfortable and ‘ugly’
Dating rule No. 1: Don’t scare him/her away. You are conscious of everything, your looks, your habits and even your behavior. You are mindful of each and every move you make. You are not ready to reveal your not-so-pleasant side to that person just yet.
People in relationships don’t care about ‘bad hair days’ or ‘no makeup days’. Being embarrassed in front of your partner is not scary but funny. You become totally comfortable in your skin around your partner.
You show them your ‘ugly’ side – when you are not dressed to kill and are probably sulking around on the couch. A movie day in the house while wearing sweats is as good as going out to a fancy restaurant.
5. In a relationship, you are there for each other
You don’t expect the person you are dating to come home with chicken soup when you have a bad cold. That is what partners do. They take care of you in your worst times. When you are dating, you take a rain check for being sick and don’t expect to meet the person any time soon.
One of the big differences between dating and relationships is that in the latter you do everything to show someone you care. Your partner is there for you even when you most need it. When you go out of town, you know that someone will be waiting at the airport to pick you up when you return.
6. Expectations flower in a relationship
There are no expectations while dating. You go on dates, have fun and sometimes even have great sex. It stays that way. There is no room for emotions, late-night conversations and surprises. You don’t have anyone to have your back, and you are still pretty much on your own.
In relationships, you have high expectations from your partner. You expect your partner to spend most of their time with you, get you gifts and surprise you when you least expect it. You meet their friends and maybe their family members too. You become a major part of their lives.
7. Conversations about “us”
There are no conversations about “us” because you don’t plan on building a future together with the person you date. “Us” is not a word in the dictionary of dating. It is just you and me as separate individuals. You do not really talk about “where are we going…” stuff because neither of you wants to answer that.
If you and I becomes “us” and “we”, then it is going in the right direction and you’re almost identifying as a couple already. Couples talk about their future plans and their relationship. They see their future with each other. And so, “where are we going..” is talked about with definite plans of action.
8. The girlfriend or boyfriend title
You don’t need to ask the question of where is this going if you have got the title. People who are dating don’t use tags like girlfriend or boyfriend. They just refer to you as a ‘friend’ or ‘the girl I’m dating’ or ‘the guy I’m seeing’.
If they introduce you as their girlfriend or boyfriend to their friends or family, then it’s official. You are already a couple! You don’t need to rack your brain thinking about it. Defining your relationship in public is the cherry on top and is the last checkpoint for exclusive dating.
The dating vs relationship dilemma is a complex one. You look for signs and run them by your BFF for affirmation. You don’t want to screw things up, so you keep this dilemma to yourself. But it keeps eating you up anyway.
Make sure that you are both on the same page with this dating-relationship thing you have going. If you are serious about this person in your life and see these signs, then go for it. On the flip side, if you are not looking for anything serious and realize that the other person is getting serious, pull out before you end up hurting them.
Yes. Dating is the period that comes before a proper relationship. It is the time when you are still exploring and figuring out whether you want to seriously be with a person or not. It is the time for casual hangouts and not serious decisions.
It starts with the online texting stage, the first date and then deciding whether one wants to pursue this further or not. After subsequent dates, if you are catching feelings you can eventually get into a relationship.