Are You Relationshipping Or Relationshopping? There’s A Major Difference

Unless you’re exclusively looking for a hookup or a casual relationship, you’re likely in the market for a long-term partner — possibly even “The One.” That means when you meet up with someone you matched with on your dating app of choice or grab a drink with the cute guy from the office upstairs from yours, you’re trying to determine whether he has potential or if he’s a total dud. After all, who’s got time to waste? However, while it’s good to be discerning when it comes to who gets your energy and attention, it’s important to figure out whether you’re relationshipping or relationshopping. They’re definitely not the same — and will likely yield very different results.

Relationshipping vs. Relationshopping — what’s the difference?

Relationshipping is all about dating in a way that encourages fostering long-term connections. When you go out with someone, you’re present, attentive, open, and genuinely curious to get to know someone new. You keep an open mind because you know that good things come in all different packages and you don’t want to miss out on someone great by being too rigid. As a result, you tend to make better connections and enjoy yourself a whole lot more.

In contrast, relationshopping is all about sticking to a strict and specific list of requirements. You know what you came for and you’re not going to accept anything that deviates from that list. This often leads to you feeling disillusioned with dating as one guy after the next fails to meet your high expectations. The process becomes exhausting and is rarely fruitful because you’re approaching it the wrong way.

Are you guilty of this behavior?

No matter how much you’d like to think you’re not a total nightmare when it comes to dating, if you relate to any of the following, chances are you’re guilty of relationshopping and need to change your ways.

  1. You have a detailed list of must-haves for a potential partner. It’s always good to know what you want and to have standards in place — that’s how you make sure you don’t end up with a complete loser. However, your list of must-haves is so detailed that it’s become ridiculous. If things like “must drive a car from 2022 or later” or “must make at least $63,000 a year” are on your list, that’s a problem.
  2. If a guy is missing even one of the qualities on your list, you write him off. The chances of a guy ticking every single box on our list of nice-to-haves are pretty slim to none, and generally speaking, that’s okay. If you’re on the same page about the big stuff, you can work with that. However, one of the biggest signs of relationshopping is refusing to give a guy a chance if even a single thing is “off” about him.
  3. You often overbook yourself on dates. You’re on a mission to find a relationship, which means you need to get out there and date. In your eyes, it’s a numbers game, so you approach dating like you do Black Friday sales. You’re almost rabid when it comes to going on date after date, so much so that you tend to forget guys’ names or fail to hear what they’re saying because you’re too busy thinking about the next man you’re meeting up with.
  4. You’ve gone on plenty of first dates but not a lot of second ones. In essence, relationshopping is the practice of being a consumer of love (or something that resembles it). Because you’re on the hunt for your perfect guy but most men aren’t on your level, you end up hanging out with a lot of them once but never see them again.
  5. You find yourself becoming more and more picky with every date. The more men you go out with, the less you like any of them whatsoever. You become increasingly disillusioned with every guy you meet because none of them meet your idea of an ideal partner. You’re not thinking clearly, but you don’t realize that.
  6. You often feel emotionally detached from and uninvested in your dates. This is an inevitable side effect of relationshopping. Because you’re never fully there when you’re going out with someone, you can never really get to know him or allow him to get to know you. In your eyes, this is a transaction, which means feelings don’t need to get involved. You might not even realize you’re guilty of withholding in this way, but it’s painfully clear to those around you — especially the men you date.
  7. You can’t remember the last time you felt an emotional connection with a guy. It’s sad, really. If you were truly in a relationshipping frame of mind, you’d put your whole self into every date — and you’d only go out with someone you really saw potential with in the first place. Because you’re viewing the process of finding love like looking for a bargain during a sample sale, you can never really let your guard down or get him to let his down. What’s the point?
  8. You’re more concerned about getting a boyfriend than building a relationship with a great guy. You’re sick of being single and are looking to embody the “perfect” life — and that means finding a boyfriend (or preferably a husband). However, by getting so caught up in the end result, you’re missing out on the here and now. Take a step back, reevaluate what you’re looking for, and start dating accordingly. You might find your love life becomes a whole lot more fulfilling.
Jennifer has been the managing editor of Bolde since its launch in 2014. Before that, she was the founding editor of HelloGiggles and also worked as an entertainment writer for Bustle and Digital Spy. Her work has been published in Bon Appetit, Decider, Vanity Fair, The New York TImes, and many more.