When Does Dating Turn Into A Relationship?

When does dating turn into a relationship? Frankly, it depends on the people involved and the situation. However, even if you haven’t had the talk establishing you as an official couple, here’s how you know things have moved beyond casual and you’re pretty much together for real.

  1. You’ve perfected the art of communication. No person on this earth is born with preternaturally good communication skills. For their friends, maybe, but not for romantic relationships. All things must be learned in the context in which they exist — you can’t have one rule for everyone. That’s why I’m always suspicious of people who say they’re just great at sex. How can you know that without a caveat? Each person has different needs, desires, kinks, and trigger points. Without knowing them intimately and having honesty in your relationship, how can you know? That’s why communication is so important. You’re showing that you’re willing to be honest and vulnerable, and that’s where all the best emotional and physical growth comes from.
  2. Fear has turned to excitement. They’re really quite similar emotions, but not so much so that you don’t know the difference when it does change. It shows that you’re becoming more comfortable with them but still finding things new and fun. You aren’t feeling sick to your stomach before a date or overthinking about what to wear all the time. Don’t get me wrong, you still have lots of ways to grow together, but you fit together more. You have adjusted to each other’s needs and you know each other better. So, you trust your partner and that means you can relax in the relationship and reap the emotional benefits.
  3. You plan vacations together. It’s like that classic mantra in Bridget Jones’ Diary who spoke about the important milestone of booking a mini-break with her leading man. It shows that you’re willing to go through the process and commitment of finding time, money, and resources to go away together. That’s no easy feat. Plus, you get to see how the other person behaves when they’re on vacation. That’s always a shock to the system in more ways than one.
  4. You wear sweatpants together. Gone are the days when you were really stressed about how to align your showers and shaving schedules to meet up. Yes, you’re still keen to show willingness and make the effort, but you have got through that essential, grueling first stage of the relationship. This is great because you can binge new shows together without breaking the bank. Make sure you don’t get too comfortable though — keep advancing the relationship and learning new things about yourself.
  5. You start to value space. This might seem like a bad thing, but it’s not. The fact that you start to want some more space from your partner doesn’t mean that you don’t like them, just that you want to make sure you have time for yourself and your other friends too. That shows a commitment to keeping the relationship healthy and setting good boundaries. It’s great news for the future of your relationship with your partner, and, crucially, yourself.
  6. You keep your separate lives. A great sign that you’re no longer just dating means that your partner doesn’t need to occupy every blank space in your life. You can take up new hobbies and go to the gym and go on weekend girl’s trips without feeling like you’re wasting time that could have been spent with your boyfriend. While we all love that honeymoon phase, you do have to also learn how to incorporate that into your well-rounded life. It’s a great sign when you can come back to each other with new things to talk about and work gossip, trust me. It shows that he loves you and wants to hear all about your day.
  7. You start to share hobbies. That might conjure up an image of two old biddies playing pool in the old person’s home but believe me, this can be so enriching. It can be anything from watching your boyfriend’s football games on a Sunday morning to taking up a cooking class in London on a Sunday morning. You will enjoy all the time spent with your partner in a more grown-up way where you can both learn and grow together.
  8. You’ve met the parents and got the sister’s Instagram handle. You know you’ve made it when you get on her private story. It shows that you’re part of the family and that they’ve accepted you. Even though they might not say it, that will mean a lot to the person you’re in a relationship with. It’s the gold standard and shows a real commitment to you being in their lives. It ensures that when you stop dating you start a relationship and don’t just let things fizzle out.
  9. Every disagreement isn’t catastrophic. Before you’ve really nailed down a relationship with someone, arguing with them can be heart-stopping. You freak out thinking that one tiny fight could be enough to make them walk away forever. When you’ve moved beyond dating and into relationship territory, you trust your connection more and realize that it’s just a small blip in the radar and you’ll both get over it. It’s actually a really comforting feeling to have.
  10. You’re one another’s default plus-one. Not only do you automatically assume you’ll be taking them as your plus-one to weddings, work functions, and family get-togethers and vice versa, but everyone else in your lives does too. When they get invited home for Thanksgiving dinner, your name is automatically attached to that. Same goes for when your friends plan a birthday party for someone in the group. They assume the person you’re dating will be with you, and they’re usually right.
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.