How Can You Tell If You’re Officially Dating?

You’re seeing someone new and it’s going well, but how well? It’s hard to know at what point you can start saying that you’re officially dating rather than just “hanging out,” but here are some ways of figuring out what stage you’re at.

  1. Once you make it 10 dates in, you’re dating. This is a tried and tested method. It’s not a perfect metric, but assuming that all the other dates and physical milestones have been satisfied, you will know whether you want to keep seeing them. Ten dates give you plenty of time to see each other across a range of cool dates. You will know if you’re starting to catch feelings in a big way. These dates help you identify what in a relationship you want to prioritize.
  2. Three months is a milestone. Some people think that it takes longer than ten dates to get that capital ‘R’ Relationship status. If it’s getting hard to judge a number of dates or even to define what a date means, maybe it’s easier to track the passing of time instead. The three-month mark is the point at which most people know whether they love someone or not. This means it can be useful to ask yourself these questions at the three-month phase. Identify for yourself if you’re in the right place to develop things further.
  3. The 5th Date is key. If you can’t wait until the tenth date, think about your fifth date when assessing if you’re in a relationship or not. The fifth date is when most people will have sex. That is, if that’s important to you. Some things are just universal, irrespective of your personality, your dating history, or your expectations. By the fifth date, you know if you want to screw them or if you’ve lost interest. It’s okay to have lost interest, too, but by the fifth date, you need to stop stringing people along and wasting their time.
  4. Dating is defined by when you have The Talk. It’s a simple answer: you know you’re dating when you ask the person you’re seeing if you’re dating. It takes courage, and it can happen at four months or four days. All you need to know is that if you haven’t had any hard emotional discussions, or checked in about the future you might share together, you’re nowhere. Unless you’re willing to have that ‘what are we’ conversation and be vulnerable, you aren’t ready for the relationship anyway.
  5. You’re dating when you start planning trips. As soon as you start planning trips or getting excited about future plans with the person you’re dating, that’s great territory to be in. It means that you’re both thinking about the future. You can each see the other person in your future and that proves that you’re ready to be together. If the idea of sharing and compromise scares you, you can end things quickly without crushing them.

More ways to tell you’re officially dating

  1. You’re dating when their ‘icks’ become adorable. When the things that used to really bug you about the person you’re seeing become things that you love about them, then you’re essentially dating. It means you can start talking to them about their insecurities and being open about what you like in your partner. Furthermore, you go beyond the superficial or physical traits and into the core of their personality.
  2. When you’re dating, you have finally relaxed. You’re not in your head quite so much, and you start stressing less. This means that the quality of your dates improve, as well as your mental health. You’re getting comfortable. Before that phase, it’s all about fine dining and getting dressed up to the nines. You’re trying to impress each other. When you know what each other wants, you relax and settle into a long-term relationship with trust and understanding.
  3. When you’ve met their friends, you’re officially dating. It shows that you’re both committed and that your two lives are melding. It’s a great sign that you’re in a relationship when worlds collide! It ensures that you constantly advance the relationship rather than just ending things when it gets hard without any accountability. When you’re friends are involved, things become more mature and official.
  4. You tell your parents about your partner. This is a very obvious sign that you’re officially dating. If you told your mum about someone you’re seeing then it means that you want it to be serious. By telling the people close to you about someone, you’re implicitly incorporating them into your life. That’s big, and you should pursue your relationship even further by initiating The Talk. When you’re taking the lead, it means you’re interested in dating. You’re halfway there!
  5. “Officially Dating” looks different for different people. Remember: don’t judge yourself by other people’s timelines. Live for you and what feels right. For example, queer women notoriously U-Haul on the second date, while gay men will be friends with benefits for a decade before it occurs to anyone to increase that intimacy. For trans, non-binary, and bisexual individuals, there are also a host of complex factors to work through that isn’t the same as straight relationships. Don’t overthink it if your 9 months of dating looks the same as other people. Only you know what feels right with defining dating.
Hannah has a Masters degree in Romantic and Victorian literature in Scotland and spends her spare time writing anything from essays to short fiction about the life and times of the frogs in her local pond! She loves musical theatre, football, anything with potatoes, and remains a firm believer that most of the problems in this world can be solved by dancing around the kitchen to ABBA. You can find her on Instagram at @_hannahvic.