21 Sure-Shot Signs You Are Unofficially Dating

Dating experience | | , Culture Writer
Updated On: December 27, 2023
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In today’s hyper-connected world, dating has become a complicated affair (pun somewhat intended). Social media, dating apps, and hookup culture have made the signs you are unofficially dating harder to spot than ever. You might be falling for a friend with benefits or someone you’ve been close friends with for a long time. There is even a word for this kind of thing – ‘situationship.’

It can be really hard to tell whether you’re in a situationship or a real relationship. In this article, we’ll explore 21 signs you are unofficially dating.

What Does It Mean To Be Unofficially Dating?

Two situations can lead to unofficial dating: friendships and friends-with-benefits. It is common for two people who have been friends for a very long time to develop feelings for each other later in life. It is also common for people who enter into a casual relationship, via a dating app for example, to grow close.

One Reddit user says, “There can be many different reasons people are in situationships. It’s literally in the name. Sometimes, you can’t be in a relationship or even the dating stage yet … In some cases it can work. In other cases, it can’t.”

According to this user, these could be the scenarios:

  • You’ve been texting each other a lot. You’ve both developed feelings and don’t want to date anyone else but you live in separate cities and don’t like LDRs
  • You’ve developed feelings for them. But the other person is too comfortable in this situationship and doesn’t want to change anything. They just want sex
  • You both are super close friends, exploring the romantic side to things, but you don’t want to ruin the friendship

The only difference between an official vs unofficial relationship is the DTR talk (in which you ‘define the relationship’). If you’ve had it, then you’re officially dating. If not, then you’re unofficially dating.

You might detect some of the signs we cover in this article in your current relationship. If you find yourself asking “Are we dating or just friends?” – this is one of the first signs you are unofficially dating.

Related Reading: Situationship – Meaning And 10 Signs You Are In One

21 Sure-Shot Signs You Are Unofficially Dating

If you’re still not sure, then you might want to look out for one of these signs to know whether or not you’re in an unofficial relationship.

1. You’re not exactly dating but you want to be exclusive

This often happens during the early stages of dating. You’ve been dating for a few months, you’re past the introductions, and you’re now pretty comfortable with one another. If you find that you want to be exclusive with your special person and you feel that they might want the same thing, it could be that you’re unofficially dating.

The downside to this is that you might start to get anxious about where you stand with your unofficial partner. As one Reddit user puts it, “I generally feel like a lot of times the situationship isn’t something people actually seek out. They probably start at “giving a relationship a try and seeing where it goes” until one party starts with drawing from the idea of commitment but just won’t let their partner go. So it just gets into this really unhealthy situation where you are not exclusive but put in the emotional labor of exclusivity.”

Related Reading: 20 Signs You Are Ready To Be In An Exclusive Relationship

2. You spend time together outside of the bedroom

If you’re in a casual relationship with someone, you’re not going to spend too much time with them outside the bedroom. If you find that your no-strings-attached arrangement is slowly incorporating more non-sexual activities, then this is one of the signs you are in an unofficial relationship.

3. You stay in touch via call or text when you’re not together

If you’re in a casual relationship with someone, it is likely that you’ll only call or text them to fix up a night together. Likewise, if you’re in a friendship with someone, you might reach out to them sometimes but not very often.

If you find yourself interacting on the phone a lot, chances are that they are more than just a friend and more of a special person to you. But if it is one-sided, i.e., you text them often and they reply to be polite, then you’re probably reading too much into it. It can be very painful when someone says I love you and you don’t love them back. But love takes two, and if your unofficial partner doesn’t want to make it official, then you must respect their wishes.

4. You can be your authentic self around them

The society we live in has the unfortunate tendency to make us repress or suppress our authentic selves around other people in order to fit in. This happens even around our close friends and family.

Tyler, 25, a salesperson, shares with us, “If you feel that you’re comfortable being authentic around a particular person in your life, be it an old friend or a new friend with benefits, if you feel that you’re able to communicate openly with them, then you could be looking at an unofficial relationship.”

5. You leave possessions at each other’s place

To take this to the next level, you might also be comfortable enough to leave certain belongings at their house and vice-versa. These could be your phone charger, a toothbrush, or a jacket. If this is the case, it means you trust them to look after your stuff and you’re planning to visit them soon.

Related Reading: Are You Moving In Together? Checklist From An Expert

6. You have exchanged cute pet names

Cute pet names are almost exclusively a relationship thing. Sure, friends sometimes come up with nicknames for each other too. But if you both use your nicknames in romantic or extra cute situations, there’s probably more than meets the eye.

7. Your respective social circles are aware of each other

This relates more to a friends-with-benefits situation. Since sex is the main thing, it is rare to hang out with each others’ friends. If this starts to happen regularly, then it’s probably not a casual relationship anymore.

And if they’re the first person you think of inviting as a plus-one to social events or fancy dinners with your inner circle, then it’s very likely more than just a fling.

8. You’ve made lasting memories

If you’re friends with someone, you might have some lasting memories with them, but chances are they would involve other people as well. For example, a trip with your inner circle will usually have pictures of the whole group or at least more than one person.

If it’s just a fling, there will be no memories like this. If there are, then it’s time for a wake-up call.

9. You hang out during the day

If a relationship is strictly casual, then this is considered off-limits. But if you find yourselves spending time with each other during the day, i.e., outside the bedroom, engaging in non-sexual activities, then you’re clearly in something that’s more than casual.

On the other hand, you might consider spending time with a friend every now and then, but if this becomes a regular thing that you look forward to without expressing your joy fully, then it might be a pseudo relationship.

10. You’re okay with spontaneous dates

Spontaneity is a huge tell when it comes to unofficial dating. We’re all caught up in busy lives, so if you’re okay with last-minute plans, it means you value this person enough to risk missing out on something career-related or just shaking up your routine. And if they’re on the same page, it means there’s something bubbling under the surface that the two of you should talk about soon.

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11. You’ve stopped noticing other people

This is something that happens to all of us when we meet someone. We find ourselves far less interested in other people no matter how attractive they may be. Even on dating sites, we might find ourselves swiping left more than usual.

If this is happening with you, then this is one of the signs she is getting serious about you and it may be time for some fancy dinners and deeper conversations.

Related Reading: 35 Serious Relationship Questions To Know Where You Stand

12. You’ve stopped thinking about ‘the one that got away’

When we’re single, we often think back to an ex and wonder what things would be like if it had worked out. That is just the human brain doing what it does best – overthinking. But this train of thought tends to fade away when we’re dating again.

So, if you haven’t thought about one of your exes in a while, and this new person is your go-to person for hanging out, you might be in a situationship.

13. You’re having lovers’ spats

This is probably one of the signs you are in an unofficial relationship. Eventually, as the bond deepens, there are more conflicts with this person than with your friends. This is a very normal development when you date someone for a while (even if it’s unofficial).

Also, the disagreements between you two don’t seem like the ones you have with your friends or flings. Conflicts with this pseudo partner affect you a lot more, too, and this might mean that you’re unofficially in a relationship.

14. Other people often mistake you for a couple

Couples in a relationship have a pretty obvious vibe about them. Even complete strangers on the street can tell that they’re in a relationship. If, at different points in your dynamic, you find that more than one person assumes you’re dating, this is one of the signs you are unofficially dating.

This often happens at restaurants or shops, where a salesperson or waiter might casually mention, “And what about your partner?” This is a great wake-up call for an unofficial couple.

15. You have begun to rely on each other during difficult situations

Life often throws curveballs at us that compel us to turn to the people closest to us for help. These curveballs certainly do not compel us to turn to a casual friend or a friend with benefits.

Roz, a 31-year-old disability activist, shares with us, “If your unofficial partner is the first person you think of during a tough situation, then this is one of the signs she is getting serious about you. That’s how I knew I love May. She was always there for me, and I realized I wanted to be her pillar too.”

16. You find yourself daydreaming about them when they’re not around

Another classic sign of love, if you find yourself thinking about them in your free time, or if you’re often distracted by thoughts of them, you might actually be in an unofficial relationship. It means they are a part of your foreseeable future. This kind of daydreaming is unlikely to happen with a friend or a casual hookup buddy.

Related Reading: How To Stop Thinking About Someone? Expert Suggests 11 Strategies

17. You have opened up to each other about deeply personal things

This is also something that is almost exclusive to relationships. Sharing intimate details about your life puts you in a very vulnerable position. So, why would you share things like this with a casual friend? If they are your go-to person for deeper conversations involving the intimate details of your lives, then your casual friend is more likely your unofficial partner.

18. Sex with them feels more intimate than when you started hooking up

In the case of casual relationships, sex is more of a sport than a romantic encounter. We tend to focus almost entirely on the physical aspect of the act than anything else. But if you find that you are starting to have an emotional connection, then it basically means your casual fling may be turning into a real relationship.

19. Spending the night together doesn’t always involve sex

Again, a casual relationship is primarily based on sex. So, if you’re spending the night with each other, sex is pretty much implied. If one of you isn’t in the mood, you wouldn’t stick around.

But if you find that you sometimes spend the night without having sex – maybe just watching a movie, deeper conversations, and falling asleep – then it’s probably time to have an honest DTR talk about your pseudo relationship and why you’re not officially dating.

20. You don’t feel too nervous bringing up the DTR talk

For most people, this is a nerve-wracking experience. The fear of rejection at this stage is much greater than the fear of rejection at first sight. But if you feel less nervous than you thought you would, this is one of the signs you are unofficially dating. And like it or not, this is the deciding factor of an official vs. unofficial relationship.

However, it does not guarantee that they will agree on entering into a committed relationship with you. They may feel that the two of you are at different points in your lives and a relationship may not work out. And if they choose to end things for whatever reason, there’s really nothing you can do other than accept it, process the grief, and move on.

It is painful when someone says I love you and you don’t love them back. One Reddit user advises, “They’re [situationships] complicated. Sometimes, the person you love isn’t ready because they’re still healing. Depending on your age and dating preferences, you may be more mature or put together than they are. There is nothing wrong with that. What is important, though, is that you have healthy boundaries and enough self-respect to know when to end things if they can’t meet your expectations over time.”

Related Reading: The Complete Guide To “We Act Like A Couple But We Are Not Official” Situation

21. You see a future with each other

Having a foreseeable future with each other is probably one of the most obvious signs you are unofficially dating. You need to find out for sure once you have the DTR talk that you factor into their future plans. If they are on the same page, then it basically means you’re in a committed relationship.

Key Pointers

  • Unofficial dating is a scenario in which two people show signs of being in a relationship without having discussed it
  • A common word for it nowadays is ‘situationship’ – that place of limbo between a friendship or a casual relationship and a committed relationship
  • Feeling like a couple, doing things a couple would do, and being mistaken for a couple by strangers are some sure-shot signs you are unofficially dating
  • Often asking yourself the question, “Are we dating or just friends?” is another clear sign
  • If this is the case for you and your unofficial partner, then it’s time to have an honest DTR talk and make future plans

If these 21 signs ring true for you in your current relationship, you might want to sit down with your partner/friend for a discussion and settle things. If you’re worried about how to broach the subject, try to casually mention that something needs to be addressed in the relationship and see what they say. Chances are they feel the same way. And if not, it’s no big deal – you still live to love another day!

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