Dating vs Relationship: How to read the signs and know your status

Love is a confusing subject. Are you hooking up or something more?

Black couple.

Differentiating the dating vs. relationship status can be a little messy, depending on the situation. Sometimes, nothing serious is spoken, but serious actions are undertaken. Other times, the right words are there, but the feelings aren’t.

Casual dating is a marvellous way of getting to know all kinds of people, without having to feel tied down to anyone until you’re absolutely ready. It’s not a crime, but it’s not for everyone either. Understanding the dating vs relationship spectrum is important for anyone looking to avoid pain and heartache.

By using these signs, you’ll be in a better position to know just where you are.

The differences between dating and relationship

Casual dating has a very real profile. Relationships do too, but everything in-between is confusing and blurred. It’s entirely possible to be somewhere between dating and relationship status. You might be moving in that direction but not quite there yet. That’s entirely fine if the timeline is on your side.

For instance, if you started off dating casually, but a couple of months in, you’re starting to see some relationship signs creeping in, you can be reassured that things are moving in a positive direction.

Here are some of those dating vs relationship differences so you can compare your situation.

  • Casual dating can mean friends with benefits

There’s a chance you’re having sex on occasion with a friend who is also single. This doesn’t mean you’re in a relationship; it means you’re both helping each other with sexual frustration. If there was more to it—something serious—there would have been a discussion.

  • When you’re dating casually, it’s often not exclusive

Because you’re not serious with any one person, there are probably 2+ people in the picture at any given time. Maybe you’re texting one person, but planning a coffee date with another.

It’s not wrong; since you’re not tied down, you’re simply screening a list of potential candidates. It could also be that you’re having fun, and taking a break from dating, but still want people to do things with.

  • Casual dating doesn’t always mean sex is involved

Casual dating doesn’t mean you have to sleep with everyone you talk to. On any given day, you might meet someone new, or stop talking to someone you’ve been talking to for months.

The idea of sleeping with every single person that comes and goes isn’t exactly realistic for most people. In fact, sometimes, casual daters don’t sleep with anyone at all, opting to wait until a serious relationship is established.

  • If you’re both only sleeping with one another, it’s a relationship

This is a huge sign. Say you haven’t had the “official” conversation yet, but you’ve established that you’re not sleeping with other people. That means there’s a chance you’re easing into a serious relationship with the person, but are waiting to become an official item.

  • Relationships rely upon trust, casual dating doesn’t

In a casual setting, people expect their sexual partners to have other sexual partners. If someone lies, no real emotion is involved.

Meanwhile, in a relationship, these things will break trust, and trust is not something you want to lose. It’s almost impossible to get it back and, chances are, you’ll spend your time kissing your partner’s feet and feeling inferior until the love has gone on both sides.

  • Sex feels “more” in a relationship

For sure, casual sex is pretty easy to come by. But at the end of the day, it means nothing more than the motion of the ocean. Sex in a relationship is meaningful. That’s because there’s a love connection there and it makes the act more than just lust. How do you know? You can feel it, and you can see it in the actions of your partner.

The importance of being on the same page

There is nothing wrong with dating casually if that’s what you want, and that’s what makes you happy. However, you have to be sure that the person you’re dating is on the same page as you.

All too often, people go into casual arrangements hoping that it will become something more serious in the near future. If you’re someone who knows they don’t want a commitment any time soon, you have to be honest about that.

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