Seeing Someone vs Dating – 7 Differences You Must Know About

Dating experience | | , Copywriter & Sports journalist
Updated On: March 15, 2024
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Okay, we get it. You don’t really know the difference between benching and curbing or ghosting and zombieing. We can cut you some slack because it is hard. But if you don’t know the seeing someone vs dating difference, things might get a little confusing somewhere down the line, in case you’re in the dating game. This is one fundamental you have to be well-versed in no matter what. Ignore all the other terms if you want to, but you should know this distinction like the back of your hand.

The conversation around seeing someone vs. dating meaning in relationship 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.

Is dating and seeing someone the same thing? 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? And if you do send those snaps, does that mean you are dating this person or just spending quality time with them? It’s a confusing world we live in. So, let’s help unravel the mystery one definition at a time. 

What Is Dating?

Before we explore seeing someone meaning and how it’s different from dating, let us go back to the basics. It is important to define dating as a concept.

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. The main difference between dating and being in a relationship is that the former is more chilled out and laid back, while the latter involves treading along more serious lines. Here are some attributes of dating:

  • It can happen quite randomly and is not always planned
  • It is the initial stage of any sort of relationship
  • It allows for testing whether the person has the potential for a committed relationship or just a friends-with-benefits situation
  • The focus is on getting to know each other. So, probing questions are typical on the first date
  • There’s a possibility of spending time with different people instead of just one partner

Dating must include a goal, which helps you 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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What Is Seeing Someone?

When you’re seeing someone, you’ve been on a decent number of dates already. You may also be starting to develop more intense feelings for each other, meaning things begin to get a bit more serious. No, it may not be a full-fledged dating and relationship conversation yet, but it may be getting there. Seeing someone has other characteristics such as:

  • You might have possibly discussed exclusivity
  • You’re more comfortable with each other
  • You might have spent a few nights with each other and made a few strides toward establishing physical and emotional intimacy
  • You’re calling each other every chance you get, and your conversations seem effortless

If you are to give seeming someone meaning, there must be some emotional investment. Whether you’re official or not varies from dynamic to dynamic, but there’s definitely a lot more emotion and everything that comes with it. When you’re seeing someone, you’re on the verge of a committed relationship! You’re meeting more often, the friends have been introduced, and you’ve already left a toothbrush at each other’s places. This may also mean you may be heading to an exclusive relationship.

How many dates does it take before you go from dating to being in an exclusive relationship? Is it possible that you’re casually dating even though you’ve been going on dates a lot? Sure, there are a million questions still buzzing in your head. Let’s go ahead and answer all of them for you.

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

Seeing Someone Vs Dating – 7 Differences 

Jasmine, a friend, confided in me: “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, seeing him, just hanging out, or dating…I was just like, what even are all those things?!” She also said that she has been having a hard time navigating the seeing each other vs dating maze.

Understanding the difference is important to ensure that you’re both on the same page about exactly where things are and where they’re going. Lack of clarity and communication around the subject can leave you feeling unsure in a relationship. And that can make things not just awkward but also extremely distressing. The longer you let the ambiguity fester, the longer you’re going to be hitting up your group chats with your friends asking, “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 actually mean, and how you should go about labeling your dynamic. Let’s get right into that by understanding what seeing someone vs dating is all about: 

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1. Seeing someone vs dating: The definitions 

As we mentioned earlier, the definition of dating is when two people assess their compatibility and try each other out. It’s the very beginning of any relationship, complete with awkward first dates and asking your friends about what they think of this person’s Instagram page. It’s when you feel lots of butterflies, sheer embarrassment every time you do something silly around them, and a constant need to impress them or feel seen by them.

seeing someone vs dating
You’re meeting more often

We also discussed that seeing each other vs dating someone are two different things. So then, 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 are definitely more involved in each other’s lives. The embarrassment and the excessive blushing are gone. Now, all you feel is sheer comfort and warmth with this person.

2. Length of the relationship

To really understand dating vs seeing someone, think of this and try to apply it to your past encounters. Getting acquainted with someone and going out on a date with them can literally happen within a week. Once you’ve been going on dates together and things are going well, you can establish that you’re dating each other. You’ve probably been there plenty of times.

To define seeing someone, we can safely assume that you’ve gone on far 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 certainly just dating. When you’re planning your first overnight trip together, dreaming about going to your favorite vacation spots together, wearing matching t-shirts in your favorite color, you’re seeing each other. 

Related Reading: 12 Differences Between Dating And Being In A Relationship

3. The seriousness of the relationships 

Can you define seeing each other as dating? Well, 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. In the exclusive dating but not in a relationship phase, you’re a lot more serious about each other than you were when you were casually dating. 

This is the biggest differentiating factor that can help you understand the distinction between dating and seeing someone. Seeing someone is usually seen as either the stage right before the relationship or in some cases, it’s the stage where you’re both in a relationship with each other. It’s like, you are ready to now focus your energies on that one person. If you’re wondering what it takes to go from casually dating to relationship status, it’s the dreaded “what are we?” conversation. 

What does dating mean as compared to how we would define seeing someone? A Reddit user says, “Dating: going out on dates, chatting, nothing serious. Seeing each other: a little more serious, admitting feelings for one another, maybe bring them as a plus one to a party or drinks out but not exclusive until you’ve had that discussion.”

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

4. Communication is often different

When trying to settle the seeing someone vs dating debate, pay attention to the nature of your conversations – they’re bound to be 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 them, and they’re trying their best to ask you superficial questions like, “So, what are your hobbies?”

When seeing someone, 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 in 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.

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’ll both be going out with other people if you want to. However, one of the biggest seeing someone vs dating differences 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.

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The best way to establish it is by having a conversation about it and making sure you don’t just rely on assumptions. What’s important is that you’re both comfortable enough with each other to have a conversation about it and admit what you really expect from one another.

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 fundamental dating meaning in relationship is that dating is the absolute first step in the journey, whereas seeing someone is a bit deeper into the relationship timeline. In these timelines lies the answer to questions like what does seeing someone mean to a guy or girl or what does dating mean for a man or a woman.

Well, It means that this person knows they want you and is ready to delete that dating app from their phone. Or it can mean that they want to start spending time with you. But dating means that this person is just casually meeting up with you and other people as well until they decide who they want to fully invest their energies into.

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. 

A Reddit user says, “I would consider dating someone to be the very beginning, getting to know the other person. You might be dating others at the same time even. Seeing or courting someone would be when you’ve decided to stop dating others, and you are now seeing this one person exclusively. Probably interchangeable with when you might call the other person a boyfriend/girlfriend.”

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7. The activities change 

So, what does dating mean? 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 try to make sure your dates are idyllic, as if straight out of a movie.

You’re courteous, you’re trying to present your best self, and having food stuck in your teeth is a crisis-level catastrophe that you must avoid at all costs. However, when you’re seeing someone, things change a bit. In fact, they change quite a bit. When you are seeing someone, you’re probably just lazing around in your room, spending time with each other, ordering pizza, not worried if any crumbs are falling on your shirt.

When you’re seeing someone, you’re not really concerned about always being your best self in front of them, and you’re okay with them looking at your dirty PJs. This is when a girl or a guy starts doing things they’d do only when they’re really comfortable with someone. That’s when the real difference between dating and seeing someone begins to shine through.

Related Reading: Single Vs Dating – How Life Changes

Seeing Someone Vs Dating: Figuring Out Where You Are 

The above seeing vs. dating someone distinction might have you a bit confused about where you are in your relationship dynamic. Does being in the company of someone mean being in love with them? Are dating and relationship bedfellows? Are you seeing someone but not in a relationship? To get the answers to these questions, you need to:

  • Have a straightforward conversation about it with your partner. Ask them: “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
  • Talk about monogamy and other expectations in your relationship and future plans. This brings a lot of clarity to the situation
  • Ask yourself relevant questions. Are you both at the exclusive dating stage? Have you met their friends, and have they met yours? Such questions can help you decide if you’re just someone they like hanging out with or if you’re heading for a more serious relationship 

So, what do you think? 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 are heading to a committed relationship. 

Key Pointers

  • What does dating mean? Dating is a more casual dynamic where you are seeing someone but not in a relationship. It’s two people still testing the waters and figuring out how they feel about one another
  • What does seeing someone mean to a guy or girl? It means that the person is falling for you and is not really interested in dating other people anymore
  • You always ‘date’ to impress. But when ‘seeing someone’, you feel more comfortable around them 
  • You often discuss being exclusive with the person you are seeing, but when dating, this topic never comes up 

Keep in mind, it’s also entirely possible to be in limbo and not be sure of where you and your partner are. 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 the seeing someone meaning and the definition of dating, we hope you have a bit more clarity about where you are in your timeline and where you’re headed in terms of a more meaningful relationship. Instead of bothering your friends with the excruciating details, just tell them this article helped you out. You’re welcome.


1. What is seeing someone vs. dating meaning in relationship?

Seeing someone is a slightly more serious relationship, where you try to pin down your choices to one person and spend time with them solely because you think there is a future with them. Dating is more casual, and it might even be a friends-with-benefits situation.

2. Is seeing a person or dating them more serious?

Dating is definitely not as serious as seeing somebody. You are not in a committed relationship, nor in an exclusive dating situation with that person. Most people who are dating are also open to more than one partner. Thus, they have the chance to see different people if they wish to explore the dating scene. Also, there are no labels to the relationship status. However, it’s important that you are both on the same page as to what you are doing for a more meaningful relationship, or should we say ‘situationship’.

3. How long after seeing someone are you in a relationship?

There is no specific time frame to enter a committed relationship as such. It is possible that you have been going on dates for 6 months and now want to be serious and ‘see each other’ more. Or the two of you have just met on your second date and sparks flew and you realize this person is the only one you want to see! It’s less about the time, and more about how emotionally invested you feel.

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