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What’s the difference between dating and in a relationship? We’ve all been there… where we were in a relationship, but not so sure about the title. Could you call it casual dating or is it something serious? How many of us truly know what is dating?

Asking can be awkward especially when the answer is something totally different from what you were hoping for. Being in a relationship is not the same as dating. So, let’s make the difference between dating and being in a relationship clear because it’s not always black and white.

Being in a Casual Relationship

For some people, being tied to another is annoying, but they like the idea of casual dating. Companionship is a wonderful thing when you’re in the mood or the occasion calls for couples. While having different people to call on is cool, sadly, it makes you susceptible to gossip and name calling.

Some people need people. They feel as though they are nothing without a partner. However, being alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely or less than. It means you can enjoy being your own person. If it bothers you not to be in a serious relationship, there are some issues you need to work on… sorry.

Sometimes, you find yourself involved with a person but you’re not sure if the relationship is going anywhere. No worries. We can clarify casual dating for you. If you and your partner are just dating you can tell by these signs:

  • You are not committed or you’re not exactly focused on each other yet. In other words, the two of you are free to date other people
  • When you are still learning each other or in the early stages of a could-be relationship
  • It’s obvious because you don’t use the terms “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” when introducing each other
  • You’re not spending the night or even having sex
  • You don’t discuss the future
  • You don’t make plans for the next date
  • Your social status still says ‘single’

If the above sounds like what you got going on, then you’re definitely not in a relationship yet. Do you want a serious relationship? How about the other person? Remember, it takes two to tango.

Being in a Serious Relationship

Some people love being “boo’d up” and that’s okay if you know how to be by yourself. But if you’re confused about your relationship status, keep reading. We have some of the signs to tell the difference between dating and in a relationship.

  • When you and the person you’re dating become monogamous
  • If you or your partner change your relationship status on social media
  • When you stop calling or texting your other friends
  • If you have stalled your dating profile
  • The weekends are spent doing absolutely nothing together and you two are fine with it
  • You’re probably in a serious relationship when you show your ‘ugly’ side
  • Coming over becomes a routine and you don’t have to ask ‘when will I see you again?’
  • This person tags along with you to gatherings and it’s expected
  • Being introduced as his girlfriend or her boyfriend
  • Talk about the future

The difference between dating and in a relationship is unmistakable. Some people don’t want to face up to the facts, but it is what it is. Women, especially, try to make casual dating more than what it actually is and end up getting their feelings hurt.

What is Relationship?

There are stages to relationships although some people seem to jump right in. Often, those are the same people left wondering what happened. Communication is key to any relationship, whether it’s a friendship, casual dating or a serious relationship.

You can’t base a relationship on what you think it is. You’ll get hurt every time dating someone with your blinders on. Talk about your expectations and your deal breakers.

If exclusive dating appeals to you, but your partner doesn’t want the same thing, you may have a situation on your hands being in a relationship… with that person. If this is the case, we recommend pulling out or taking a break. Stop putting so much into this person so you can see clearly the difference between dating and in a relationship. 

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Mikki Donaldson is a southern girl, a woman of color born in “hard time Mississippi.” She, like her town, has seen many hurricanes, but bounce back each time. Mikki is no different from any other person with a passion, late to bed and early to rise. The writer is a mother, daughter, and grandmother who adores her family and seeks to leave her mark on this remarkable and changing world.