Relationship vs dating – what is your status? Does it matter? What is the difference? We have all been in that confusing stage between dating someone casually and calling it a real relationship. So how do you know when you are there? The main difference is that the two of you are on the same page, you are connected by a mutual commitment to each other. As a couple, you have agreed, either officially or unofficially, that you’re seeing each other exclusively and are in a partnership together. If you are the only one who thinks it is a relationship, then it probably is not.

What about exclusive dating? That is just dating one person, but you are still “dating”. This does not equal a relationship because you BOTH have not agreed to be in a partnership and be a partner to each other. In fact, it gives him all the benefits of being a boyfriend without actually having to be your boyfriend.

How long should you date someone before you become a “couple”?  Of course it’s different for everyone and for every relationship but typically the optimum timeline is after 2 months of dating before a couple starts a relationship. Remember that it takes two people to make a relationship work … and a firm commitment from BOTH of you.  So if your date does not seem to be interested in making things official or “needs more time” before committing to  a relationship, you may need to question whether or not this person is the best person for you.

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Starting a Relationship vs Dating

It’s no secret that dating can be difficult, whether you are trying to keep the conversation going with your latest dating app swipe or moving into something more serious – the world of romance can be hard to navigate. That’s probably why there are so many books and movies about it!  However, it is important to remember that it will be worth it all in the end – as you move towards finding happiness – in whatever form that may manifest itself for you. Remember, turning dating into a relationship starts with two people walking on the same path in the same direction together.

With that in mind, you mustn’t rush into a relationship that you aren’t ready for. While it may be tempting to do so, you need to ensure that your needs and standards are met and that you feel loved, respected and appreciated throughout. 

To help make those difficult decisions a little easier, here are some important things you need to think about when getting into a relationship. 

Love yourself first. 

Although it may seem cliche, before you can love another person – you must truly be able to love and respect yourself. This means that you need to know if you are ready to date again before jumping into a relationship. Sometimes, this means that you may need to stay single for a little longer than you’d like. However, do not despair – there are plenty of positives to being single. You get to put 100% of your energy into yourself – whether that means you make time for more self-care or get to figure out what you want. 

There’s no allocated time frame for how long you should or shouldn’t be single – and you’ll feel it within yourself when you know it’s time to put yourself out there again. 

Know what you want from a relationship vs dating.

While you shouldn’t enter a relationship with hundreds upon hundreds of expectations regarding your partner or your future together, you must know exactly what you want from a relationship ahead of time. For example, if you are looking for a long term commitment, but your partner is only interested in a fling – you could be putting your heart on the line for someone whose life is heading down a different path. Have important conversations early – on topics such as contraception options and beyond to ensure that you are on the same page as your partner. 

Remember that relationships are about compromise.

Heading into a relationship, you may already have a clear idea in mind about what you expect from a partner. From this, some things should be non-negotiable (for example, your partner should always treat you with respect). However, it is also important to remember that good relationships are also based upon compromise. From time to time, you may need to make some allowances and be willing to put their needs first. A good partner will repay this by also acting with your best interest at heart. 

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There’s no rush.

Sometimes, we rush into relationships because we feel as though we are lagging behind our peers. While some friends may be married, it may feel as though you are being left behind. However, it is important to remember that there is no need to rush. Things will fall into place when the time is right.