We’re just hanging out. He’s not my boyfriend. She and I are just friends.
Trying to figure out if you’re dating, or if you’re just pals, or if you are heading toward something serious is not always fun. Dating is a confusing world, and one of the aspects that makes it frustrating is the point you reach when you need to define what you are. It’s more than okay to be friends who hook up, or to be casually dating, but most relationships get to a place where everyone should be on the same page about what’s going on and how things are progressing (or not progressing). If you’re heading toward something a bit more serious, you should check in with one another.
If you’re not sure if you’re dating someone or just hanging out, here are a few things that take your relationship to something more.
You’ve started to plan weekends together.
If two people are casually hanging out, or simply hooking up, weekends are not a definite. If you’ve noticed that every week, you two have begun to plan out what your weekends look like, it might be a sign that you are officially dating-dating. Weekends are not a given when it comes to casual hookup situations. Weekends are reserved for hanging out with your friends, for potentially going on dates with other people, and for sleeping. If you and the person you’re with have started to assume that you’ll be spending at least one of the weekend days together, you may be well on your way to the official title.
You don’t know how to introduce each other.
If you’ve noticed that the person you’re with hesitates before introducing you—but in a good way—it may be time for The Talk. If you’ve slipped up and referred to them as your boyfriend or girlfriend, it may be a sign that something more is there. Introducing someone you’re just hooking up with most likely doesn’t even cross your mind. If you run into a friend and you’re out with someone you’re casually seeing, it’s really easy to say, “This is my friend Samuel.” If you run into someone when you’re with your potential future partner, there might be some awkward hesitation. “This is my… Samuel.”
(It’s a key point in so many romantic comedies and fictional love stories, so it must be true.)
You’re chatting throughout the day.
A casual hookup, a friend with benefits, or someone who just doesn’t mean all that much to you is probably not occupying a lot of your day. But if he or she is, you may be on your way to officially dating. If you notice that you two text a lot, even if you’re seeing each other later, you could be onto something. If they call you after work just to catch you up on how their shift went, or how that business proposal was received, it could be a sign that you are in a bit deeper than either of you may have intended. If you notice that you’re reaching out to one another via text, Facebook Messenger, Instagram DM, and anywhere else people can communicate with one another, this could be something more than a hookup.
Being exclusive with someone is really special—assuming that’s what each of you wants. When you’re dating someone or hanging out with a new person, exclusivity is probably not the main topic of conversation. But if it’s been a while and you’re uninterested in seeing other people, being exclusive is something that will likely come up. It’s possible to be exclusive without being officially tied to another person, but oftentimes, they do go hand in hand. If you both want to be exclusive with each other, it may be time to have the next conversation. “Are we dating?”
You know each other’s people.
This one can be tricky. Some people are so close with their friends, or so social, that even a casual relationship can slip into the friend group. It’s not a 100% for sure commitment if you two know each other’s friends, but it’s usually a pretty good sign that it’s heading in that direction. If you have attended weddings together, work parties, or family events, chances are you two are slowly walking toward official status. Most people don’t introduce their family members to people they’re casually seeing. If you find yourself in the same room as their beloved nieces and nephews or they’re the first person you think of when your cousin gets engaged, it may be time to have that chat.
And friends are a big deal, too. If your friends all know them and have spent time with them on more than one occasion—and most importantly, like them—it may be time to upgrade.
Social media seems to think you’re dating.
Have you posted a picture of this guy or gal? Have they posted a picture of you? Do you tag each other in sunset pictures because you were together when the perfect image was snapped? Social media can be silly and overwhelming, but one of the surest ways to know how serious you are can be found in the midst of gorgeous photos on the web. Very few people will post pictures of someone they’re casually hooking up with. If you two are uploading pictures of each other—or even together—it’s a really good sign that you’re ready for the commitment.
You want to be together.
Perhaps most important of all is how you actually feel. If you feel ready to be together, ready to be exclusive, ready to plan those weekends together, then it’s probably time to have the chat. Once you’re really sure that you want to be with this person, why not take the plunge? Chances are, if you feel good about it, they do too.
It’s hard to tell what anyone wants out of a relationship, but when you start to check these boxes off of your list, it’s probably time for you to check in on yourself. If you’ve spent a lot of time together, if you feel ready, and if you’re happy, it’s time to figure out what’s going on here. Hanging out is great, but dating someone you love (or could eventually love) is even better.