How Many Dates Does It Take Before You Get To The Relationship Stage?

If you lead a full, fast-paced life, the last thing you want to do is waste time dating the wrong people. It can feel so discouraging when you go on multiple dates and send hundreds of texts, yet no relationship ever forms. But here’s the thing: love can’t be rushed. Read on to find out how many dates it really takes before reaching the relationship stage.

  1. First dates set the foundation. Most people don’t expect to begin a relationship as soon as the first date. Still, you might be tempted to rush things upon first meeting, especially if you know you only want something serious. Instead of applying pressure from day one, have an open mind and keep things light. The first date is more about vibes than anything. Notice if there’s chemistry and if you have some basic interests in common. After the date, check in with yourself and note how excited—or drained—you feel. There’s little reason to continue moving forward if you’re feeling depleted already.
  2. The second date is a key step forward. Second dates are super important. One reason why the second date matters so much is because they usually only happen after a good first date. Agreeing to meet again means you mutually agree there’s potential for something meaningful, though at this stage it’s still way too early to become an official couple. Treat the second date as an upgrade to the first date: skip the small talk, ask deeper questions, and keep an eye out for any red flags you may have missed before.
  3. Third dates test your physical compatibility. Anyone who abides by the three-date rule knows that this is typically the time when couples become physically intimate. You might see each other’s homes for the first time and even spend the night. If sexual chemistry is important to you, the third date might be when you determine if you two are in sync or not.
  4. Emotions deepen around the one-month mark. After one month, you’ve probably already went on a few dates and have started feeling comfortable hanging out together. You’re starting to form a bond that feels more serious than casual dating, yet you’re probably still not official yet. If you’re catching feelings and wanting a real relationship in the future, now’s a good time to discuss exclusivity and your intentions.
  5. Commitment usually begins after two months of dating. If you want to know how long it takes to reach the relationship stage, research shows most couples commit to each other around the two-month mark. Specifically, it usually takes between five and nine dates to become an official couple. For most couples, this is enough time to judge their compatibility and decide to become an item.

What if you’re not in an official relationship after nine dates?

If you’re ready to commit after nine dates but your partner isn’t, they may never be as ready as you. But that doesn’t mean it’s all hopeless. Here are a few points to keep in mind after you’ve gone on several dates together.

  1. Decide if they’re situationship or relationship material. Some relationships may never start because they’re best left as a situationship. It’s important to distinguish between the two so you aren’t left waiting for someone who’ll never commit. According to Glamour, if you’re including each other in your routines, can sit together in silence, and have already said “I love you” to each other, your connection is worthy of a serious relationship. But if your partner isn’t invested in getting to know you and hasn’t discussed the future at all, they may just want to keep things casual.
  2. Consider the circumstances. Generally, true love overcomes bad timing. Still, there are some circumstances in which it may take a bit longer to start a relationship. Consider what life events your partner is currently facing. Did they just recently get out of their old relationship? Are they busy with a new job? Or did they just move to a new place? If so, that might be why you haven’t entered into coupledom by the ninth date. Take things slowly, and give them a little extra time if they need it.
  3. Initiate the DTR conversation. If you’ve been dating a while and you still haven’t entered the relationship stage, you might have more influence over the situation than you think. Rather than waiting for the other person to say something, be brave and initiate the DTR (define the relationship) conversation yourself. Tell them you really like them and you’re ready to begin a relationship together. This may be just what your partner needs to step it up. On the other hand, if they’re still not ready, don’t pressure them or offer an ultimatum. Remember, even if most couples become official after a couple of months of dating, there isn’t one “right” time to start a relationship. Sometimes, taking it slow is necessary to build a lasting relationship.
Relationship educator, writer, host of the Relationship Reminders podcast, and mental health advocate hailing from the US and currently based in Tokyo