How Long Should You Know Someone Before Dating?

How long should you know someone before dating them? Is it really true that friendship is the best foundation for a romantic relationship or should you jump right in with a more intimate connection?

  1. It depends entirely. It varies by age as well. Some people claim that they’re really good at being in relationships – while, it must be noted – being single. However, that’s like the guys who claim to be great at sex. He might be good at pleasing one woman, but we’re all so different. We all have different pressure points, pain points, and trigger points which means that we all respond to new situations in vastly different ways. That means that we’re all essentially on the same playing field. Maybe that isn’t very reassuring, but you see what I mean. There is absolutely no real answer to this question, except the reassurance that you will not be the only person to have shacked up at any given timeframe. Don’t overthink it or wait around because you think you have to wait to make your move. On the other hand, don’t fear that you’re in the friendzone or that you’ve missed your chance by waiting too long. It’s so worth it to shoot your shot.
  2. Three months is probably the standard. This is the point at which the talking stage either materializes into a formal dating stage or fizzles out entirely. It’s like both parties became excruciatingly aware that the all-important three-month stage was coming up and sorted their shit out. It is the perfect middle ground because you’ve both had enough time to reflect, learn more about the other person, and figure out what you want. While you might have been infatuated with them initially, you might be seeing things through a less rose-tinted perspective after three months. Equally, after three months you might find that you can’t do without them. See what I mean? Generally, experience makes your mind up for you.
  3. Queer relationships are different. There’s no point asking a lesbian what the best or most appropriate time is to start dating someone. They will already have flown across the globe for a first date after two messages with a tinder date by the time you could get the question out of your mouth. For gay men, the opposite is true. They could have been screwing casually for years and it not occurred to either of them to take things further in an emotional sense. Things are not only vastly different within the community, but outside it. It’s understood that time doesn’t really function in the same linear way as with straight relationships. For straight couples, the relationship tends to have an inbuilt meet, move in, marry, and have kids timeline. For queer couples, that timeline is much less conventional.
  4. By six months, you should have clarity. If you aren’t asking questions when you’re six months in, you should start. Or, if you’re friends with someone and start to realize that those feelings are changing or evolving into something more, start thinking about what to do about them. Yes, it’s a lot of pressure and you don’t want to mess up what you have with them, but get your brain in gear. It will always be a risk to ask someone out, but it’s so worth it, and it prevents you from wasting your time. Some people get together after a decade of pussy-footing around the issue, and while that’s cute and all, what about all that wasted time, y’all?
  5. You can be best friends for years. That said, sometimes the deepest and most intimate relationships come when you’ve been friends first. Even when you have been friends for decades. It means that you don’t have to go through the awkward small-talk ‘getting to know each other’ stage of a new relationship. You’re already there and then some. Furthermore, you can know each other’s darkest secrets and deepest desires and you already have a sense of how to be the best partner for them. That’s a successful relationship, so don’t be put off from asking your crush out even if you think it’s too late. There’s always time for love to bloom.
  6. Everyone’s different. There are only so many ways I can say this. Some people will want commitment and reassurance early. Others will be content to let a situation evolve naturally, even if it takes time. Just learn what you need and do what you need to to get it.
  7. You can be on again, off again. This means that trying to put a timeline on things gets complicated. What period do you count? The time between meeting and now, or the actual dates that you were formally together? Don’t get too stressed about aligning with social expectations or traditional views about how relationships work. Go at your own pace.
  8. Don’t stress. Just don’t. We’re all different. Some people will wonder what the heck you’re doing, others will be jealous that you’re talking to anyone at all. It doesn’t matter what you label it as. Labels are mostly for other people, anyway. Wait until you’re emotionally ready.
  9. Ask friends. When in doubt, reach out to friends and family so you can talk through shared experiences. It makes you feel less alone in the relationship stress, while also providing valuable context to your experiences.
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.