The first few weeks of dating a guy can feel like emotional pins and needles because you’re dying to know if and when he’s going to make things official with you or not. If not, you want to move on so you don’t waste your time — but how long should you wait in dating purgatory?
When to make things official with a guy
Four weeks in is a pretty common time. A Google Consumer Survey by Mic found that the most common time in which couples have “The Talk” about relationship exclusivity is within four weeks of dating. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the right time.
“It is not so much about a certain number of dates or time together but rather when there is a mutual desire to become exclusive. Each of us has our own mate selection screening process and must-haves list for choosing a mate. Each of us has our own red flags, boundaries, and deal breakers,” explains relationship expert and author of “My Cat Won’t Bark!”, Kevin Darné. “Once you realize you are becoming emotionally invested in someone, you should probably initiate ‘The Talk.'”
There’s obviously no specific time limit on when to make things official because everyone’s different, if you’ve been waiting for many months, it’s time to move on because clearly, the guy is just cruising for as long as he can get away with it. That being said, if he’s showing these signs, a relationship is on the cards.
Some signs you may be ready to have “The Talk”
- There’s more going on than just sex. Sex is great, sure, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you do on dates. There has to be more, like a mental and emotional connection. You should be making each other laugh and feeling capable of having real conversations with your clothes on. If you feel like you’re in sync outside the bedroom too, that’s good news.
- You don’t have to nudge him for dates. If you’re the one who’s always asking what he’s got planned on the weekends and if he’d like to do something with you, it’s time to back off and see what’s really there. He has to show that he’s keen to take the initiative and that he’s not just going along with what you decide because it’s convenient for him (and he has a pretty good chance of scoring).
- He’s escalating his efforts. Things are supposed to progress once you start dating. Contact between you at first might involve light texting, but then it should become much more frequent and include phone calls. There has to be some sort of increase in the interest he shows so you can tell he’s serious. If you’ve been dating for two or three weeks and you’re still only getting weekly texts along the lines of “Hey, what’s up?”, that doesn’t cut it. Neither do midnight texts asking if you want to go over to his place.
- He’s including you in his future. If you want to be part of his future, it’s not enough that he’s invited you out a few days ahead of time. After a few weeks of dating, if he hasn’t snatched you up, he should at least be including you in his future plans — as in, beyond a week or two. This could include a concert or function he has to attend in a month or a vacation he’s taking in three months. Whatever it is, you should be on his future calendar in some way. If he talks about the future along the lines of “we,” then bonus points.
- You’re with him every weekend. If most of your spare time is spent together, this is a good sign. It means that out of all the other things he could be doing, he’d rather be spending time with you. Of course, it’s especially encouraging if he’s the one to initiate some of these plans.
- You don’t get to miss him. You don’t bite your nails wondering when he’ll get in touch because he doesn’t give you much of an opportunity to miss him. He’s always texting, calling, or making plans to see you, but not in a way that makes you feel suffocated. He’s just a huge part of your life and you like it that way.
- You’ve met his people. It’s always promising if a guy has brought you into his life and let you meet his nearest and dearest. It means he’s eager for people to know who you are and that you’re with him. Bear in mind that his loved ones could be different people for different guys — it might be his best friends, his family, or both. FYI: his dog is not his people and really doesn’t count.
- He’s consistent. Probably the biggest sign that you’re on the road to an exclusive relationship is that the guy is consistent with his efforts. A guy who blasts you with attention for a week or so and then goes AWOL for a while is clearly not that interested in pursuing anything stable or committed. You don’t need to waste your time on a
- He’s already doing boyfriend things. He might not be your official boyfriend yet, but he’s acting like one and making you feel you’re already a couple. For instance, he holds your hand in public, he invites you out with his friends and work colleagues, and he’s cool with you pitching up at his place for an impromptu visit.
- He’s worried about how you feel about him. Instead of just saying how he feels about you, he’s clear about your feelings being important. After a few weeks of dating, he wants to know that you enjoy time spent with him and perhaps is even a little worried that you might stop being interested or that he’ll lose you if he doesn’t make things official. He knows relationships are a two-way street and he doesn’t want to see you snapped up by someone else. The guy is stepping up to the plate.
When he doesn’t make things official — what to do
When it’s been way too long and he’s not showing signs of moving things forward into relationship territory, here’s what to do.
- Talk to him about it. First and foremost, if this is someone you want to have a serious relationship with, you need to be able to communicate with him directly. If you’ve been dating for a while — when you reach this threshold will be individual to you, so there’s no set time here — and he hasn’t made a move to make things official, it’s time to bring it up. Tell him that you really enjoy being with him and that you’d like to be in a proper relationship with him. How he responds will tell you a lot about where his head is at.
- Take a step back. Maybe he says he’s into the idea of being official but he hasn’t actually done anything about it. You don’t want to leave him but you’re also not willing to be taken for a fool. In this case, the best thing you can do is to back off a bit. Under no circumstances should you be giving this guy girlfriend privileges when he’s not willing to give you the title yet. There’s no need to be passive-aggressive or vindictive. However, it’s important that he gets the message that if he’s not willing to step up to the plate, you have better things to do.
- Don’t pressure him. You’ve already told him that you want to make things official with him. That’s out there. However, that doesn’t mean you should try and force the issue. You don’t want to be with a guy who doesn’t want to be with you, right? If you keep on pushing it, he’ll either he’ll give in because you won’t stop nagging him or he’ll walk away completely. Neither of those is a favorable outcome, so try and stay calm.
- Focus on yourself. It’s so hard not to take things personally when you really like a guy and he doesn’t seem to be on the same page. You worry that you’ve done something wrong, that you’re lacking in something that makes him not want to be your boyfriend. Stop that. While he’s screwing around trying to decide if he’s going to get over his commitment phobia or potentially lose one of the best things to happen to him, you should spend your time focusing on yourself. Do things that make you happy. Focus on your own life. If he decides he wants to be part of it, great. If not, your life will still be amazing.
At what point does an unofficial relationship become a lost cause?
That really depends on the situation and the people involved. Some might be happy to date casually for six months. However, others want to know where their relationship is headed, if anywhere.
“This is about the level of communication not the timeline of events. If someone communicates their adoration for you, it can feel like you’re on the road to relationship land, but not everyone has the same outlook,” dating expert Lisa Holden tells Bolde. “People tell you who they are, but it’s your job to listen up. If they express affection but qualify their statements with phrases like, ‘But I’m not really a relationship person,’ or ‘I love how we can keep things casual,’ they may never be interested in getting serious with you.”
Holden adds that there’s no sense in waiting around for the guy to change his mind. Chances are, that will never happen. “If you tell
someone you’re ready to make things official and they’re not on the same page, better to cut your losses and move on than wait around for a change of heart that may never come,” she says.