How Long Should You Date Someone Before You Define The Relationship?

It’s good to define your relationship so that you know where you stand and where things are going so you don’t waste your time. However, it can be tough to tell when the appropriate time is to actually broach this conversation. Is there a certain amount of time to wait after you start dating or should you just go for it as soon as it feels right? Here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Don’t do it too quickly. While it’s tempting to rush ahead and hit those dating milestones, you don’t want to define things too fast. This can make you jump into a relationship without really knowing the person you’re keen on being with. It can also seem desperate or make you miss out on the fun beginning stages of dating.
  2. Don’t wait too long either. Of course, the tricky thing with defining the relationship is that you don’t want to wait too long. If you keep seeing or dating the person for weeks and months, eventually you’re going to wonder why you’re not wearing relationship labels and whether or not your partner is even capable of seeing you as an official girlfriend.
  3. What’s the sweet spot? A reasonable time to wait before defining the relationship is about two to three months. The reason for this is because it gives you a good amount of time in which to learn about the person and see them in a variety of situations. It might feel like a long time to wait, but it’s only eight to 12 weeks! If you go on a date once a week with someone, that would mean you’ve only seen them a dozen or so times, which isn’t really that much.
  4. This will prevent you from getting stuck. If the relationship gets labeled too quickly, this can cause you to find it hard to leave if you’re not 100% happy. By keeping labels off the table, you won’t get blinded by them and can focus on what the relationship’s really like so you can decide whether or not it’s right for you long-term.
  5. It takes the pressure off. Taking several weeks to date someone without the pressure of becoming a couple is a great way to figure out if the person’s right for you. You can ask them lots of questions to find out what they’re about and what they want in life, and you can get to know their lives in much clearer detail. You might even meet some of their friends and get an idea about their family. Even if you want to be in a relationship with this person, having the talk to define things can be stressful, especially if they’re taking their time to do it. You don’t need the stress so early on in your relationship. There’s plenty of time for that later.
  6. You can avoid chasing them. If you feel that you have to DTR quickly, you might rush in and initiate things instead of letting your partner show you through their actions what they really feel for you, if anything at all. Words defining that you’re a couple can be meaningful, but they’re not as meaningful as showing each other that you want to be together for the right reasons. Slow down and let the person show you where they’re at.
  7. You don’t ignore being consumed by your expectations. Maybe dating this person has been great, but you want more and the feeling is growing every week. If you’ve started having expectations for the relationship, that’s a sign that you need to DTR because it’s something more concrete, so…
  8. Don’t be too strict with the rule! While waiting two to three months is a good amount of time to figure things out, you might want to wait a bit longer or perhaps DTR earlier. That’s completely up to you and it’s important to follow what feels right for you and the relationship. Go with your gut. Sometimes your gut will be screaming at you to slow down and not broach the subject, while at other times you might feel that you should open that line of conversation. The important thing is to listen to that voice.
  9. Can you choose not to define the relationship? While you might fall into a relationship with someone and just start acting like a couple, this isn’t the same thing as defining your relationship. It’s still important to do that at some stage otherwise it’s like you’re just floating along (hello, micro-dating), and you might get the rude awakening that what you thought was a relationship was actually just a bit of fun for them. It’s better to know where you stand.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.