Dating vs Relationship: Which Are The Main Differences Between The Two?

Last Updated 12.04.2022
11 min read

Many people might not realize it but there is a great difference between dating and relationship territory. This is something that can cause a lot of confusion for many people. You are not yet sure if this is a casual dating thing or whether it has moved to a more serious relationship.

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At the same time, you are not sure if you should bring this into the conversation for fear that the other person might think you are trying to move things too fast. Here are some ways to see which stage your relationship is in without having to have any big discussions.

Relationships are Exclusive While Dating Doesn't Have to Be

The very first thing that differentiates a relationship and dating is the level of exclusivity between the partners. When you make the step from casually dating to exclusive dating, going on a casual date with someone else or talking to people online is out of the picture.

When you are simply dating, you might have agreed to only go on dates with one another or the other person might want to date multiple people. They might even want to be sexual with other people and not just you.

This shows you the difference between dating and a relationship and unless you have both agreed on an open situation, you are definitely still in the dating stage. Dating does not entail exclusivity while a relationship unless it is an open one, is much more exclusive.

You Actually Don't Want to See Anyone Else

At the stage where you are exclusively dating, right before you enter the serious relationship stage, you will see that you really don't care about dating anyone else anymore.

This is something that both partners need to be on the same page about and usually happens organically when the relationship progresses. This is a middle ground between casual dating and a serious relationship, where you are dating exclusively the other person and don't want to see anyone else.

This is a normal and healthy step that can show you a lot about the other person, how they perceive the situation between you and whether they are the right person for you.

You Prioritize Each Other's Company Over Other People

One of the things that shows you that you and your boo are serious is that you would rather have a movie night than meet out with other people. Enjoying each other's company and staying at home together shows you are comfortable with one another and have fun together. This is a great sign that the relationship is moving forward.

People in a committed relationship are much more likely to enjoy doing fun activities together like going on dates or even spending time at home. This person is your best friend, lover, and partner and you know that when you can see all three in them you are in a defined relationship.

You Have Expectations About Many Different Things

When you start having expectations from the other person, this is another sign that you are passing on different stages of the relationship. When you are just dating, you wouldn't necessarily expect them to remember birthdays or other important dates.

When these things start becoming important to you, and you see that they also put effort into keeping up with important dates and other events, you know you have moved on from the dating stage. Relationships oftentimes hang by the details and many partners expect to remember the little things.

When you are dating someone without knowing how long you will be around this person, you most likely won't put the effort into planning a birthday surprise or attending an important event with them.

The point is that you are not afraid to show your commitment to one another and you feel comfortable being there for important occasions. When you start to expect your partner to care about these things, you are definitely in a relationship.

It's Not All About Sex Anymore

Casual dating usually involves a lot of sex and depending on the situation, this might not be exclusive. After some time of dating someone, you become comfortable being around one another and have fun spending time in each other's company.

When your interactions stop centering around sex and you enjoy the intimacy that is forming between you, you know you are no longer just dating. On the flip side, not being too interested in sex with a partner you have only been seeing for some months can show signs that a relationship is near its break.

Intimacy grows when the people involved in romantic relationships start to get to know each other better, communicate openly, and show trust. This is a great foundation for a long-term partnership that can flourish on love and care for one another.

You Have Met Each Others' Family and Friends

When you are just dating someone, you will most likely not meet their family and friends unless you have common friends already. This is usually something everyone avoids as you don't know if this will turn into something serious or not.

If you go on a date, or even a few, you would definitely avoid introducing this person to your family and close friends but people in relationships take pride in being close with the other person's favorite people.

Also, you don't really know what to introduce the other person as. As friend? A boyfriend or girlfriend? Therefore, when the time comes for you to meet each other's family or friends is an important step for the future of the relationship.

This is one of the main dating vs relationship differences which can show your relationship status is changing and you are seeing each other more seriously.

You Have Already Said "I Love You" to One Another

Couples that are dating without worrying about the future of this relationship would not say I love you to one another. Most people are afraid of commitment and speaking these three words can make it too real too fast.

While not everyone thinks this way and many LGBTQ+ couples fall for one another very quickly, you should still know that when these words are spoken, you are no longer in dating territory.

This shows a sign of emotional intimacy between the partners and you won't reach this point if you only date one another for a short time.

Your romantic affair has probably been going on for some time and you are finally ready to step a foot forward towards an actual relationship.

β€œWhen you love someone's everything with your everything then you truly are in love.”
― Stephen Richards, The Ultimate Success In Love

You are Considering Moving in Together

When two people have reached a mutual agreement about finally moving in together, they are definitely no longer just dating. There is a major difference between moving in together as close friends and partners.

A couple that chooses to live together in one place has definitely decided that they want a committed relationship that will last long. This is a natural part of any healthy relationship which shows that the two people are happy to spend time and every day with one another.

This usually happens a few months into dating, when the couple is in-between stages and starts making plans for the future. While there is a joke that many lesbian couples end up moving in together very quickly, there is no real rule as to how fast you should move in together.

Sometimes, you just realize how happy the person makes you and you are ready to take the step up from a casual dating situation and turn it into a relationship. For many couples, living together is what can make or break their relationship. This can show you whether you would be able to get into a long-term relationship or even marriage with that person and spend your life with them.

This is definitely not something that only one partner can decide and shows both parties are committed to their feelings for one another. Planning your life ahead usually starts with such a step and it shows you are both ready to make this work. This doesn't necessarily mean that your relationship will end up in marriage, but it can be whatever you and your partner want it to be.

You are Not Afraid to be Yourself

During the first months of a relationship, you might want to continue wearing makeup around your partner, girlfriend, or boyfriend, and you are committed to looking your best at all times around them. This oftentimes happens as you want them to view you just like they did on the first date.

Once you start feeling comfortable after some time dating them, you can finally start to discover that you don't mind waking up next to them with a messy bun and no pants on. This is such a fun difference between dating vs relationship situations and shows you there are real feelings there.

Being yourself around the person you are dating shows you that you are one step ahead of dating. You wouldn't let just anyone see you in such a vulnerable state and certainly not someone you don't care about. If the other person acts around you the same way then you know this relationship has a future.

You Have Been There for Each Other During Difficult Times

When you are dating a new partner, you wouldn't easily involve them in your personal struggles or ask for their support. For example, if you are having a big family issue, you would probably not seek the support of a person you went on a few dates with as this is something personal about your life that you wouldn't trust just anybody with.

On the other hand, if you are with a partner that you have been dating for some months and you feel close enough to them, you would most likely call them or ask for their support during a difficult time. This shows that you are not ready for formal relationship status with that person as they are not the first you think about when something bad happens in your life.

The way that they will respond to this situation can show you just how much they care. This is a surefire sign that you are in a relationship and no longer just dating. The different stages show how your partner cares about you and doesn't want you to struggle. They will do whatever they can to be by your side when you need them and offer you their support.

Every relationship that survives hardships is one that will survive almost anything in the future. This includes hardships between you and outside factors you might face and struggle with.

Your Conversations are Now About "Us"

A big difference between dating and relationship talk is who your future plans involve. When a relationship starts getting serious, the plans between the partners change. This is where "us" becomes more frequent than me and you are planning and building together instead of announcing your plans to one another.

Making plans about your life together, even if those don't involve marriage, starting a family and other serious topics about your relationship, shows you are past the point of just dating. Marriage isn't the only goal in life but thinking about your lives together and making plans is important for your relationship to thrive.

It's not how long you've been with someone that matters, but rather the love you share in your heart. - Unknown

Finding the Stage of Your Relationship Doesn't Have to be a Challenge

While you might be nervous about talking about the stage of your relationship with your partner, all of these points can easily show you where you both are. You might have had bad luck in the past and gotten your heart broken by people but not every relationship is the same.

Sometimes is it a good idea to take a step back and look at your relationship from a different perspective. This is the easiest way to see whether you are still dating or have moved on to a more serious stage. Since you are considering this, chances are you are official.

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