Seeing Someone vs Dating – 7 Differences You Must Know About

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We get it if you don’t know the difference between benching and curbing, or ghosting and zombieing. But if you don’t know the difference between seeing someone vs dating, things might get a little confusing for you somewhere down the line. 

The conversation around seeing someone vs dating becomes all the more confusing since the two terms are thrown around interchangeably. Coupled with other terms like double texting or cuffing, it seems like we’re learning something new every day.

What does “seeing someone” mean? Is seeing someone the same as dating? Can you post an Instagram story with someone you’ve gone out with twice? Do you send them random snaps in the middle of the week? It’s a confusing world we live in, let’s help unravel the mystery one definition at a time. — –

What Is Dating?

You stress about what you’re going to wear, you look at the clock and realize you’re already late. Hurriedly, you wear the first outfit you tried before changing four times and rush to the restaurant. The nervous excitement ensues, and you’re trying to be your best self to charm this person you’re talking to. When everything goes well, you exchange a kiss and a promise to meet again. 

What I’ve just explained is a date, and going on a few dates with someone is basically when you’re dating them. Simply put, dating is meeting a potential romantic partner over an activity like sharing a meal, to assess the possibility of having a future (any sort of a future) with this person. 

It can be right after you’ve swiped right on each other or with someone you’ve been friends with for a few years. Seeing someone vs dating them basically boils down to how a first date is usually the nascent stage of any sort of relationship and can be described as dipping your toes in to try a person out. 

On dates, people usually try to focus on getting to know each other the best they can. “So, what do you do?” “Dogs or cats?” “What was your favorite vacation?” are the kinds of questions you might hear on a first date

Dating can be described as the period of a relationship when two people sporadically meet each other over meals, to pursue mutual interests, or indulge in other activities. The main goal is to determine if they’re a good fit for each other and if you can imagine things going beyond that first kiss. 

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Is seeing someone the same as dating? Well, not really. Let’s try and understand why that’s the case, by taking a look at what seeing someone really means. 

Related Reading: The Dangers Of Online Dating In 2022 And How To Avoid Them

What Is Seeing Someone?

Before we step right into the intricacies of seeing someone vs dating, it’s important to know exactly what the two terms mean. Let’s help you understand why they’re two different terms, even though they’re used interchangeably. 

When you’re seeing someone, you’ve been on a decent number of dates. You’ve seen all the nice shirts he has, and he’s seen all the nice heels you’ve got, and you’re starting to develop a more intense feeling for each other. 

The “seeing each other” stage means that things are getting a bit more serious. You might have possibly discussed exclusivity, and you’re definitely past the initial awkward first few dates phase where you were still praying that the spaghetti you ordered wouldn’t make a mess on the white shirt you decided to go with (great combo, by the way). 

By now, you’re more comfortable with each other. Maybe you’ve even spent a few nights with each other and establishing physical and emotional intimacy is not too far away. Whether you’re in a “relationship” or not is completely up to you to decide, but things have definitely gotten a bit more serious than overthinking things like “I just texted him three hours ago, should I text him again?” By now, you’re calling each other every chance you get. 

Whether you’re “official” or not varies from dynamic to dynamic, but the basic agenda remains the same: there’s definitely a lot more emotional investment and everything that comes with it. 

You’re meeting more often, the friends have been introduced, and if you’ve already left a toothbrush at each other’s places, you best believe you’re going to go from seeing someone to a relationship. 

The difference between seeing someone vs dating might still not be clear, and it’s easy to see why. How many dates does it take before you go from dating to seeing each other stage? Is it possible that you’re seeing someone but not in a relationship? Let’s talk about all the differences. 

green flags in a guy

Seeing Someone Vs Dating – 7 Differences 

“I’ve been going out with this guy a bit, and I’m not sure where things are going. I wanted to ask my friends about him, but I didn’t even know how to define what I have with him. They asked if I’m with him, if I’m seeing him, if we’re just hanging out or if we’re dating…I was just like, what even are all those things?!” Jasmine told us. 

Understanding the difference between seeing someone vs dating can be extremely important to make sure that you’re both on the same page about exactly where things are and where they’re going. Being unsure in a relationship happens when there’s a lack of communication about the subject. The longer you leave it in ambiguity, the longer you’re going to be hitting up your group chats with your friends saying, “WHAT ARE WE?!” 

Though the dreaded conversation of defining the relationship can only be had with the person you’re involved with, it’s always beneficial to know what the terms mean. Let’s get right into that by understanding what seeing someone vs dating is all about. 

Related Reading: 15 Best Places To Meet Men (Out Of Dating Apps)

1. Seeing someone vs dating: The definitions 

As we mentioned, there’s a difference between the definitions of the two terms. When we talk about dating, it’s when two people are assessing their compatibility with each other and are just trying each other out. It’s the very beginning stage of any relationship, complete with awkward first dates and asking your friends about what they think of this person’s Instagram page. 

What does “seeing someone” mean? It means that the dating phase is long gone, and you’re both a lot more serious with each other than you were in the dating phase. You may have discussed things like future plans, exclusivity or even starting a new relationship. You’re spending a lot more time with each other, and you’re definitely more involved in each other’s lives. 

2. Length of the relationship is usually the difference between seeing someone vs dating 

Getting acquainted with someone and going out on a date with them can literally happen within a week. Once you’ve been on a couple of dates together and things are going well, you can establish that you’re “dating” each other. 

In the seeing each other stage, we can safely assume that you’ve been on more dates than you care to remember, and a considerable amount of time has passed since you two first met each other. There’s no specified duration of time that needs to pass before you two can claim to be “seeing each other”; it has more to do with the emotions that are involved. 

When you’re still asking each other what your favorite colors are and where your favorite vacations were, you’re dating. When dreaming up about how you can go to your favorite vacation spots together pretty soon, wearing matching t-shirts in your favorite color, you’re seeing someone. 

3. The seriousness of the relationships 

Is seeing someone the same as dating? We’re sure by now you know the answer to that question. When you’re dating, you wouldn’t care much if they didn’t reply to your text for a day after a first date (but you’ll definitely be nervous about being ghosted). 

When you’re seeing someone, you’re bound to call them up and say, “Excuse me? Just where have you been?”, if they don’t reply for half a day. Even when you’re seeing someone but not in a relationship, you’re a lot more serious about each other than you were when you were dating. 

Seeing someone is usually seen as either the stage that’s right before the relationship or in some cases, it’s the stage where you’re both in a relationship with each other. If you’re wondering what it takes to go from seeing someone to a relationship, it’s the dreaded “what are we?” conversation. 

4. Communication is often different

When you think about what you’re both talking about in the seeing someone vs dating debate, the conversations are usually very different. As we mentioned, you’re getting to know someone during the dating phase. They tell you the things they want you to know about themselves, and they’re trying their best to ask you superficial questions like, “So, what are your hobbies?”

When you’re in the seeing each other stage, you’re usually talking about more serious and intimate things. You’re more vulnerable with each other, you’re talking about things that may be difficult to share, and you’ve established greater emotional intimacy. 

You might have discussed future plans, exclusivity, and even the prospect of being together for a long-term relationship. Simply put, seeing someone vs dating all boils down to the seriousness and the emotional attachment you have with each other.

Infographic for seeing someone vs dating
The differences between seeing someone and dating them

5. Exclusivity is often discussed

Usually, it’s well understood that if you have just started dating someone, exclusivity is definitely not a given. If you’ve been out with them on one date, it’s pretty much understood that you’re both going to be going out with other people if you want to. 

However, one of the biggest differences in seeing someone vs dating is that you may expect some sort of exclusivity in your relationship from your partner when you’ve established that you’re now seeing each other. The best way to establish it is by having a conversation about it and making sure you don’t just rely on assumptions. 

Though exclusivity is not a given even in the seeing each other stage, what’s important is that you’re both comfortable enough with each other to have a conversation about it.

Related Reading: 15 Important Tips For Dating In Your 30s As A Woman

6. The different stages in the relationship timeline 

The relationship timeline can be vastly different for different couples. The seeing someone vs dating difference is that dating is the absolute first step in the journey, whereas seeing someone is a bit deeper into the relationship timeline. 

When you’re seeing someone, you’re also talking about the future and moving further ahead in your relationship timeline. If you wish to stop things, it’s going to take a bit more than just ghosting the other person, as you might be able to do during the dating stage. 

7. The activities change 

When you’re going out on a couple of dates with someone, you’re at your absolute best. You take them to places in the city that only you know about, and you wear your best outfit, complete with your hair down in the thick of summer. 

You’re courteous, you’re trying to present your best self, and having food stuck in your teeth is a crisis-level catastrophe. However, when you’re seeing someone, things change a bit. You’re probably just lazing around in your room, spending time with each other, ordering pizza. You’re not too worried about always being your best self, and you’re okay with them looking at your dirty PJs. When you’re seeing someone vs dating them, the activities change since you’re a lot more comfortable with each other. 

Seeing Someone Vs Dating: Figuring Out Where You Are 

So, now that you know the difference between seeing someone vs dating, you might be confused about where exactly you are in your dynamic. To put it bluntly, the only way you can truly figure that out is by having a conversation about it with your partner. 

Yup, you’ve got to go up to them and give them the ol’ “So, what are we?” If they freak out and tell you they don’t have any network when you can hear their voice perfectly, you can assume you guys are dating indefinitely.

When you have a conversation about it, you’ll also start talking about monogamy and other aspects like expectations in your relationship and future plans. Once you do, it’ll be pretty clear where you stand on the spectrum. Some other things that can help you figure it out include how long you’ve known each other and if your feelings for each other have been steadily (or meteorically) growing.

Are you both exclusive? Do you spend a lot more time together with each other than you used to? Have you met their friends, and have they met yours? All these questions can help you decide if you’re just someone they like hanging out with or if you’re in the seeing each other stage. 

Keep in mind, it’s also entirely possible to be in limbo. You might be in the middle of seeing someone vs dating, and your lack of conversations about it might have made you more confused. As we said, when you don’t know where things are headed, the best thing to do is to talk about it. 

Now that you know all there is to know about seeing someone vs dating, we hope you have a bit more clarity about where you are in your timeline and where you’re headed. Instead of bothering your friends with the excruciating details, just tell them this article helped you out. You’re welcome.

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