Is Dating a Relationship?
Let’s start our dating vs. relationship debate with a few definitions. Depending on the dating phase, you may be:
- Seeing each other
- Dating casually or exclusively
- Being in a relationship
And the level of commitment increases from one stage to the next. For example, if you meet up once or twice a month and hook up, you’re seeing each other (and probably other people), like most users ofdo. If you’ve had a few dates but no talk of being exclusive, it’s casual dating, which shifts to exclusive dating when you both agree to give up pursuing other partners. Finally, transitioning from dating to relationship status means you’re likely interested in something long-term. And there are niche dating sites, like and , specializing in long-term committed relationships.
So is dating and being in a relationship the same thing?
As one of the Reddit users aptly put it, “Dating is restaurant and pants. Relationship is the couch and no pants.”
What Does It Mean to Date Someone?
So what is dating in relationship terms? Typically, such arrangements entail:
- Learning one another’s habits and quirks and weighing if you can live with them. For instance, if you cannot fall asleep without complete darkness, and your partner needs to have a TV on, you may face some difficulties sleeping over at each other’s places.
- Sexual exclusivity upon mutual agreement not to date multiple people. Many dating sites, like , let users specify their preferred dating arrangements, so they can avoid awkward talks.
- Natural entanglement with each other’s lives and social circles. When you’re hooking up, your meetings are usually one-on-one, but when you start dating, you’ll inevitably cross paths with each other’s flatmates, friends, colleagues, etc.
The one major difference differentiating dating from relationship territory is the lack of mutual responsibilities and shifting of priorities. The latter comes when you’re ready for a long-term commitment.
What Does It Mean to Be in a Relationship?
Let’s now consider the difference between dating and relationships. The latter usually involves the most serious commitment and predates engagement, civil partnership, or marriage.
So what does it mean to be in a relationship in practical terms? Of course, every romantic relationship is different, so while for some it means spending more time in each other’s spaces, other couples may get to know each other’s friends and family members. Still, typical signs of a serious relationship entail the following:
- Emotional intimacy that entails sharing your hopes and fears, as well as plans for the future, including cohabitation, marriage, and family.
- Exclusive physical intimacy, meaning you have sex with one person and ignore other potential sexual partners.
- Mutual prioritization that translates into putting each other’s company and comfort over those of others, being a go-to person for one another.
And when does dating become a relationship?
Unfortunately, there’s no universal requirement for an average number of dates before a relationship. For some people, 90 days are enough, while others need more time to be on the same page about a relationship status change.
Seeing Someone vs. Dating
Almost every relationship progresses through the initial stage of “going out,” “seeing someone,” or even “fooling around.” This period has a few significant differences in dating and relationships, such as:
- You can see more than one person at a time. Until you agree to mutual exclusivity, there’s no reason to limit your options.
- Sexual intimacy is possible, but emotional closeness is unlikely. One-night stands, hookups, booty calls, and other no strings attached relationships can fall into this category.
- There’s no need for labels or commitment. You’re not obliged to stay in touch or work on building a healthy relationship, as your arrangement may end after the first couple of dates.
Most adults go through this relationship stage several times before settling down. Surveys show that women will kiss 15 men before settling down, while men have six one-night stands before they are ready to commit. If you’re looking for casual flings, places likeor will provide plenty of options. But if you’re ready to move beyond this initial stage, let’s uncover what is considered dating.
After How Many Dates Are You Dating?
In the seeing someone vs. dating debate, Americans generally apply the 10-date rule, meaning a couple is considered dating after going on ten dates. In contrast, in Latin America, a couple can go out for a few months and have casual sex, but they are only considered dating after they have a conversation and formalize their new status in each other’s lives. In Asian countries, like the Philippines or Vietnam, casual sex is frowned upon, dating requires an acceptance of a formal offer, and the number of dates doesn’t affect the outcome much. And Europeans, especially in Scandinavia, don’t like labeling their relationships and tend to keep them casual for a long time.
Apps like Badoo are made for casual hookups, but that doesn’t mean online arrangements cannot shift to dating and serious relationships down the road. In fact, 12% of online daters are married to or are in a committed relationship with someone they met online. So learning the difference between dating and being in a relationship is equally important whether you meet in a bar, through mutual acquaintances, or online. The only difference may lie in how to count your dates and determine after how many dates you are dating., , and
Hopefully, you now understand the subtle differences between seeing people, dating, and being in a relationship. However, these terms are often used interchangeably, the level of exclusivity and dedication increases with each consecutive level of connection. Still, whether you’re interested in a casual or long-term committed relationship, online dating remains among the most popular means of finding your match, andor are both good places to begin your search.
No, dating does not always mean a relationship, especially if you’re not dating exclusively. Typically, casual dating transforms into exclusive dating before transitioning into a relationship after a few months.
There’s a general consensus that seeing each other transforms into dating after ten dates. Still, the number can be lower (five or six dates) if you and your partner verbally identify your relationship status as dating.
Psychological research suggests that serious relationships are more common among people with similar looks, lifestyles, habits, and attitudes. At the same time, there’s no scientific evidence that opposites attract, especially as contradictory views make for a rocky start to a relationship.