Skip to content

Home > Relationship Advice > Relationship Stages > Dating vs. Relationships: The Real Difference

Dating vs. Relationships: The Real Difference

A couple who knows the difference of dating vs relationship.

We’ve all experienced that confusing zone between casually dating someone and calling it a real relationship. So how do you know when you two are there? When it comes to dating vs relationships, where do you draw the line?

The main difference between dating and being in a relationship is that people in a relationship are connected by a mutual commitment to each other. You and the person you’re with have agreed, either officially or unofficially, that you’re seeing each other exclusively and are in a partnership together.

However, most of the time it’s not so back and white. Sometimes that area between just dating and being in a committed relationship can get a little grey. That’s why we came up with a list of signs that your casual fling has taken a turn into relationship territory.

A Guide to Dating vs Relationships

You’re not really looking around anymore
If you’re dating around, but someone special has pulled ahead of the pack, to the point where you’ve let the others fall off, you’ve stepped into relationship territory. Alternatively, if you’re still on your dating site of choice and you’re not compelled to message anyone new, or even log in, you’ve been bitten, and maybe it’s time to think of your romance in relationship terms.

They’re your go-to person when you make plans
When you read about something fun going on, or the movie you’re dying to see comes out, is this person your no-brainer first call? If you’re invited to an office party, is the first thing you consider whether or not you get to bring a plus one? Do you check and see if this person is free before you commit to other plans? If the answer to any of these is yes, then it’s a sign that you’re beginning to picture a life in which they’re a mainstay.

You do nothing together
A common sign that your fling is getting relationshippy is when your plans don’t necessarily involve any, you know, plans. If your sweetheart is content sitting on the couch and watching Saturday afternoon movies while you fold laundry, some walls have come down, and you’re clearly comfortable involving your person in the less glamorous aspects of your everyday life.

You’re not afraid to rely on someone
Is there a level of comfort when you have to ask your person for a favor? If you’re confident they’ll be there for you when you need them, you’ve established a level of trust that’s healthy at the beginning of a relationship, and you’re probably in good shape to take it to that exclusive level.

You show your ‘ugly’
One of the biggest signs when you’re determining between dating vs relationships is showing your ‘ugly’. ‘Ugly’ here means any raw and real behavior that you typically keep under wraps when you’re first getting to know someone.

Maybe you schedule a date right after a visit to the gym and you have no intention of showering first. Maybe you go a day or four without shaving. Maybe you expose your guilty pleasure when you insist on watching the entirety of the Kardashians marathon. Maybe you cry whenever Kermit the Frog is on TV. Whatever it is, you show your real side because you’re confident this person will still hang around.

You’ve integrated this person into your existing social life
Not only have you introduced this special someone to your friends, but your friends like the person and often extend them an invite when they’re making plans with you. If you’re friends say embarrassing stuff about you and your sweetie doesn’t look all freaked out, it means he or she has gotten to know you on the same personal level. And that’s a great sign. If your person gets along with your friends, it’s further indication that they’re interested in the real, authentic you.

It’s all mutual
The most important thing is that this list goes both ways—and this requires that awful “what are we?” conversation we’re all usually happy to avoid. It’s a necessary evil however, because you don’t want to make assumptions based on the other person’s behavior—some people just need different things in order to be all in. There’s nothing worse than being 100% in and learning that your sweetheart isn’t on the same page.

The best way to approach the conversation is to give the person you’re interested in a heads up before the conversation if you can. Let this person know you’ve been thinking about where you two are, and you’d like to talk about it. That way the person can also come to the table prepared to tell you what he or she wants and needs. And if this person isn’t quite in the relationship zone yet, don’t fret. Letting someone know you’re open to it may push the relationship to the next level. After all, putting yourself out there is the scariest part!

Hopefully by now you’re all clued up on the difference between dating vs relationships. So get out there, be confident, and find the love you deserve!

More from The Date Mix
Serious Relationship vs Just Dating: What’s the Real Difference
Relationship Advice Serious Relationship vs Just Dating: What’s the Real Difference
The Definition of Exclusive Dating vs a Relationship
Dating Advice The Definition of Exclusive Dating vs a Relationship
Sarmassophobia: Fear of Dating is a Real Thing
Relationship Problems Sarmassophobia: Fear of Dating is a Real Thing
An Open Relationship vs. Polyamorous Dating
Gay Dating Advice An Open Relationship vs. Polyamorous Dating