Dating is a hugely complicated word and can be used as a blanket term to describe everything from casually hooking up to being in an exclusive relationship. Dating is a stage whereby two people spend time together to consider each other for a more serious intimate partnership.

Dating is a commonly used word to describe a relationship status but what does it actually mean? Well, firstly it depends in what context it is being said. You can just be dating generally, and this is not aimed at dating one specific person. In other words, you can be dating several people, nothing serious, you’re just actively meeting people and getting to know them. Whereas actually dating a specific person implies you’re seeing this person regularly and possibly with the purpose of progressing the relationship further.

There are 2 types of dating: not exclusive and exclusive. If you have not discussed if you’re dating other people, then it should always be assumed you are not exclusive. There is no right or wrong time scale from going from one to another. I have read it should be 1-3 months, but my husband made sure we both were not seeing anyone else at the end of our second date! And I was more than happy with this! If you feel like you’re both on the same page you should make the transition whenever the time is right.

Even if things seem like they are going really well and a good amount of time has passed with the two of you seeing each other regularly you should always have an open and honest discussion about what both of you want. Do not assume you’re exclusive without knowing for sure.  Even though it will be a difficult conversation to have its essential so you both know where you stand. It will manage expectations and might save you from getting hurt further down the line.

You might think you’re dating, and they might think the two of you are just having no strings attached fun. By having an open and frank discussion you can make a fully informed decision on how you want to move forwards. It will give you the opportunity to kick them to the kerb before you develop deeper feelings for them. Not only would it save you the heart ache in the long run, but it would also mean you aren’t wasting your time with someone who has no intention of progressing the relationship.

Whether you’re dating or just hooking up depends on your intention. If your intention is to work out whether the two of you have a future, then you’re dating. But you both need to be on the same wavelength. If you are just having fun or hooking up, you aren’t intending to have a future together.

That is not to say that hook ups wouldn’t lead to dating because it is a possibility, but you should never assume it will take that direction. Equally dating someone will not always lead to an exclusive relationship.

How is dating different from being in a relationship?

The simple answer to this is dating is more casual and actually being in a relationship is committed, stable and long term. You can also date more than one person at a time because after all dating is a way of getting to know someone to see if you want to progress into a relationship with them. However, this is not true for everyone as there are people out there who never want a committed relationship and want to keep things casual permanently.

Both dating and being in a relationship will help you to understand yourself as a partner and what you really desire in another. Most importantly you should have fun and never feel any pressure to do anything you don’t want to do, for example dating or being in a relationship does not guarantee sex!Knowing your relationship status can help to manage expectations and recognise limitations. Here are the main differences:

Knowing your relationship status can help to manage expectations and recognise limitations. Here are the main differences:

  • Dating is casual, no strings attached approach with more flexibility whereas being in a relationship provides exclusivity and loyalty. When you’re just dating you can do what you want, you have an independence and you can please yourself. Being part of a relationship means much more consideration and appreciation for the other person, it is a real commitment.
  • Both dating and a relationship can be physically intimate but only a relationship will be emotionally intimate. There are much more feelings attached to being in a relationship, you could be in love with your partner or certainly on your way there. When dating you could just find them physically attractive or enjoy their personality. Being in a relationship allows you to really get to know someone on a deeper level, to really understand what has shaped them as a person and what their hopes and dreams are. Dating involves more superficial small talk.
  • Dating is more experimental. So, you like this person and you want to find out more about them. When you’re in a relationship you know enough that you want to be loyal and in turn you want them to be loyal to you. It is a well-considered genuine decision.
  • When you’re dating you are a lone ranger with many possibilities but when you’re in a relationship you are part of a team, a partnership. This provides solidity and a sense of security.
  • Dating can be short and brief whereas relationships can last your whole life.
  • Casual dating is ideal for younger people who are still understanding who they are and what they want in a partner. It offers a variety of choices and the ability to choose the best path for them.
  • Dating can be unpredictable whereas a relationship provides stability and certainty.


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