Talking vs dating vs relationship vs casual fling? How do you know what is what and what type of relationship you’re in?
Nowadays, one of the biggest problems between couples is defining what’s going on between them.
How do you know what’s flirting, friends with benefits, and dating – and where’s the line after all of this grows into the real deal?
When are you in a situationship and when does it become a real relationship?
It looks like nobody knows, right? Well, guess what – we do and we’re here to share the secret with you.
1. Level of commitment
The first major difference between casual dating and a real relationship is the level of commitment.
When you first start dating someone, you don’t make any promises and you just go with the flow as each day passes.
Also, you’re allowed to leave and break up with them without any further explanation.
However, all of this changes when you and your partner become boyfriend and girlfriend.
You two become completely devoted to each other. You both commit to loyalty, respect, and love.
Of course, even when you get married, let alone when you’re in a relationship, neither of the partners can guarantee that they will spend the rest of their lives together and that you’ll never break up or get a divorce.
A lot of things can happen, but commitment means a promise that you’ll both at least give your best to make things work, no matter the circumstances.
When you’re dating, you don’t have to be loyal to another person.
You don’t have the duty to stick by them through thick and thin and, basically, you’re allowed to walk away whenever a situation occurs in which you don’t feel comfortable.
However, a romance is something completely different. It’s a promise that you two will be one hundred percent devoted to your relationship and that you won’t back out on each other at the first sign of inconvenience.
It means you will invest your entire self and put all of your efforts into preventing your relationship from failing.
That you two will be there for each other through sickness and health, good and bad times.
A relationship is actually similar to an unsigned contract. Of course, you won’t be legally prosecuted for your wrongdoings, but that doesn’t annul you from guilt.
2. Communication level
When you first start dating someone new, you’re not completely honest towards them.
I’m not accusing you of lying, but you definitely won’t share your deepest, dirtiest secrets with someone who’s just walked into your life.
Not only that – communication barriers exist even when it comes to your relationship.
Whenever you’re bothered or annoyed by something, you think through your words and plan in detail how you’ll express your dissatisfaction.
The same goes with everything the other person tells you: You dissect their words in search for hidden meaning and you look for mixed signals, even when they’re nonexistent.
Basically, in the beginning, most couples play hide and seek because no one wants to be the first to fall in love, the first to show signs of jealousy, and the first to start a big argument.
On the other hand, when you’re in an exclusive relationship, this changes.
You speak your mind and don’t put your words on a scale before actually pronouncing them.
Even though you probably fight more than in the beginning, your arguments are productive and reach a final point, which makes your communication healthier overall.
Besides, after a while, you and your significant other start communicating without words – eyes and body language becomes more than enough.
You stop being careful about every single thing you say and your honesty increases.
Your partner becomes someone you can tell literally everything to, the first person you want to call whenever something good or bad happens.
3. Spending time together
Another main difference when it comes to dating vs a relationship lies in both the quality and the amount of time you two spend together.
When you first start seeing each other, you want to make every night as interesting as possible.
You both want to impress each other and put a lot of effort into bringing some unique aspect to your dates.
Besides, you use every possible opportunity to be alone together, so the last thing you want is a third wheel.
Nevertheless, when it comes to a relationship, not every night you spend together is a date night.
In fact, there are periods in which neither of you feel like going out and instead, spend time in your pajamas at home, without anyone nagging the other person for not coming up with a better idea.
You spend more and more time with friends and family and enjoy hanging out with other people.
This doesn’t mean that you two have had enough of each other, it’s only a sign that your emotional and psychological intimacy doesn’t lose its intensity, even in a crowded room.
The best part about spending time together in a serious relationship is that things like awkward silences cease to exist.
In fact, you and your partner function perfectly well doing nothing together or each one doing their own thing.
You’re no longer under pressure to see each other every free minute of your time or make every single moment of your relationship worth remembering, and you learn to enjoy the beauty of ordinary days.
None of this makes your romance boring – it actually only brings it to the next level.
4. Showing your true colors
Let’s face it. When you meet a new object of your attention and affection, you present yourself in the best possible light, even sometimes without consciously trying to do so.
It’s simply natural that you want this one person to like you so badly that you’ll try at least minimize your bad sides and quirks, if not hide them completely.
Besides, every time you’re about to see them, your nervousness intensifies to incredible levels. You plan ahead and always think of the impression you’re leaving.
And all of this is perfectly normal. It doesn’t make you a liar or deceiver who’s manipulating their way into someone’s heart, because you’re not actually pretending to be someone you’re not.
You’re merely showing them the best version of you – inside and out.
After all, you definitely won’t show up on the first date unshowered and wearing your old, stained sweatsuit that looks awful on you.
Instead, you’ll spend hours trying to behave, look, and smell your best (but at the same time, as if you haven’t put any effort in it).
Nevertheless, as time goes by, these masks slowly start to fall off, whether we like it or not.
The two of you become more and more relaxed in front of each other and after a while, there’s no point in hiding your true colors.
When you get involved in a romantic relationship, you show your dark sides, as well.
You face your partner with your inner demons, in hopes they won’t run for their life once they meet the real you.
It’s not that you disregard your looks entirely – you just don’t have the urge to seduce your partner every second of every day.
You reveal to them the other side of your personality and even introduce them to the parts of yourself that even you don’t like.
And the same happens the other way around. This is when you realize that you don’t have to approve of every part of each other’s personality in order to still be in love.
However, the best part is that you accept each other completely.
You don’t have the desire to change or modify the other person, or make them fit each other’s imaginary standards.
In fact, with time, you grow to love your partner because of their imperfections.
You know these flaws are also a part of this person you’re crazy over and you wouldn’t have it any other way, even if you had the chance to make some changes.
Most importantly, a couple in a serious relationship loves each other the same at their best and at their worst.
5. Relationship status
In the modern dating world, rarely anyone knows where they stand and where everything’s headed right from the first date.
People are into casual dating, sleeping around, casual flings, and no-strings-attached relationships more than they’re into committed ones.
You can be seeing someone for months, sleeping with them, spending time together, and doing all the things every couple does but still not call it exclusive dating.
Today, people run away from taking their relationship to the next level as much as they can and delay that conversation for as long as possible.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging these types of almost relationships – if both parties are perfectly okay with their arrangement in which they still date others.
However, this is anything but fair if one person wants to define a relationship status but isn’t bringing the subject up out of fear of being ridiculed or considered needy, desperate, and old fashioned.
Well, luckily, couples in committed relationships don’t have these problems.
They give each other the title of boyfriend/girlfriend and everyone knows they’re an item.
In this case scenario, your partner is more than proud to call you theirs and public displays of affection are totally normal.
6. Trust level
It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve been betrayed or abandoned in the past and have some deep compressed trust issues, as an adult who’s experienced and witnessed a lot, it’s natural that you can’t trust the person who just walked into your life and you just recently started dating.
It doesn’t matter how much you like this person, being physically attracted to them is one thing, but trusting them is a whole different thing.
Well, all of this changes significantly once you’re in a relationship.
When I say trust, I don’t refer to believing every single word that comes out of their mouth.
I’m talking about being certain that the other person will always stand behind what they speak – about the fact that you can trust their opinion, and decision- and judgment-making skills.
In a relationship, you know you can rely on the other person through the worst of times.
You know they will be there when no one else is and would rather die than betray you.
You’re positive that they wouldn’t violate your trust, even if their life depends on it, and won’t judge you, even if you show them the darkest sides of your personality.
And that’s something you never have while you’re dating.
Another crucial dating vs in a relationship difference lies in the fact that a boyfriend and girlfriend are a team and stand united against the world.
Even when they argue, it’s them against the problem, not one against the other.
When you’re in an exclusive relationship, you’re partners in crime and in life. You fulfill each other and are always on the same side.
Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that you two should stop ceasing to exist in the outside world the moment you enter a relationship.
You still have your friends, hobbies, interests, and a life of your own.
However, you simply know you’re not alone in life anymore and that no matter what happens, you’ll have your teammate to back you up.
You two are always united and give each other unconditional support whenever you need it.
Every problem is mutual and you always work as one to find the solution.
One person will never do anything that might harm the other and you both have each other’s needs in mind.
In contrast, when it comes to casual dating, you’re just two people who happen to share some kind of romance.
Each person is concerned about their own life and you’re allowed to be a little bit selfish because you’re the only one responsible for yourself.
Until you make things official, exclusivity is not mandatory and you don’t have to be monogamous.
Both you and your partner are allowed to flirt with someone else or even date other people.
After all, you still haven’t agreed upon anything and until that happens, you have the full right to explore other options. Basically, you’re single people and nothing you do can be classified as cheating.
Well, healthy relationships are different. Here, fidelity and monogamous behavior is implied and something you expect at all times.
Monogamy means that you know that the other person is only yours and that they’re not allowed to do anything behind your back.
You have the right to be jealous or establish some boundaries when it comes to their behavior because you’re their emotional partner.
Besides, you have a certain control over their actions, as well.
You’re not a lunatic for asking your boyfriend/girlfriend who they’ve spent the day with or been texting, or for setting up certain restrictions.
Of course, I’m not talking about possessive behavior here because that can never bring you any good.
I’m talking about the fact that it is not okay to, for example, check out other people in front of you, hit on them on social media, or to have Tinder and other online dating apps.
You’re allowed to protest if they’re too close friends with their ex and so on.
Your dating partner is nothing more than your romantic partner.
They’re the person you’ve been seeing and you don’t expect them to be there for you when you’re feeling bad or need someone to sit with you in silence.
Then again, when you’re in a mature type of relationship, the other person is not just your lover, they’re your friend too.
They’re the first person you call when you’re in an emergency, the first one whose advice you’ll hear out, and someone who can comfort you in the best way.
No, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have your BFFs.
After all, there are always some interests you want to share with your friends that might not be interesting to your partners, such as clothes, makeup, or sports.
You can still hang out with your friends, complain to them about your relationship, or share juicy gossip from time to time.
However, your boyfriend or girlfriend becomes your best life friend, in the real sense of the word.
They become your comrade and your person!
10. Being a part of each other’s lives
As as already stated, dating allows much more individuality than a relationship. And this goes for being a part of each other’s lives, as well.
Whether you like it or not, a serious relationship requires you to meet each other’s friends and family, know more about your career, and even share each other’s interests.
Your social lives simply start to mingle and, over time, become one.
This is especially the case if you plan on getting married because sooner or later, their family will become yours and vice versa.
Of course, nobody can force either of you to be a part of each other’s social lives all the time or to like each other’s friends, but you should at least tolerate them because there will be some occasions when you won’t be able to avoid them, as much as you try.
11. Future plans and expectations
When you first start dating a new person, you hope to have a good time and hopefully good quality sex.
You don’t know where things are going and don’t want to make any plans that might fail.
After all, you’re not even sure whether this person will stick around until next week, so it would be pointless to plan a vacation together.
You probably think of them as someone temporary and don’t see them next to you in a few months, let alone a few years.
Nevertheless, when you’re in a romantic relationship, you perceive things as permanent and don’t imagine your future without this person by your side.
When you talk about your goals, you always use plural because you firmly believe that your partner isn’t going anywhere.
You two talk about a future together and make some long term plans.
Some important topics such as marriage, kids, and finances come up and you start to question your compatibility, among other things.
When in a healthy relationship, one partner will never make a big decision without consulting the other first.
Of course, I’m not talking about asking for permission here because you two should be equals – I’m talking about the fact that you don’t plan things without at least taking the other person’s schedule, desires, and opinion into consideration.
The same goes with priorities.
Let’s face it. In most cases, you’ll ditch your dating partner for the chance of having a fun night out with your friends and they shouldn’t be especially bothered by that.
However, in a committed relationship, things should be different. You shouldn’t forget your own life, but your significant other does come first.
Similar things happen with your own priority list. You don’t waste as much time on planning your next weekend getaway with friends. You don’t save as much money toward clothes and other not-so-important things as you did before.
Instead, you focus on building a better life for the two of you and most of your energy is invested in the future of your relationship.
13. Excitement vs. peace
You know how you feel butterflies whenever you’re around someone you’re infatuated with?
How you feel nervous every time you’re about to see them and overwhelmed with fireworks every time they kiss you?
Well, that means you’re enamored and it usually happens in the initial phase of dating.
However, once you grow to truly love the person next to you, most of these things disappear and get replaced by blissful peace.
Some people might say that it is a sign that your relationship has gone into a rut, but this actually means it’s the real deal.
You know you found the one when their love starts feeling like home, when you feel calm near them and like you’ve found your peaceful harbor.
The passion doesn’t have to necessarily fade away at this point. In fact, it just turns into something much bigger and more valuable.
14. Respect level
Another major difference that occurs once you shift from dating to a relationship is the level of respect that should deepen with every day you spend together.
I’m not saying that you put down, insult, or are in any other way disrespectful to the person you’re dating, but with time, this grows into a special kind of admiration and appreciation for this person.
When you’re in a functional relationship, you’re both aware that there is no love without respect.
You appreciate each other’s sacrifices and investments.
You respect the person next to you both as an individual and as your partner, and humiliating them in any way would be the same as humiliating yourself.
You respect their wishes, the love life they had before you, their time, their boundaries, the people they care about, and their individuality.
Even though all of the above-mentioned things are certainly important, the main difference between relationship and dating is actually the feelings you have for each other in these two stages.
When you’re dating, you’re physically attracted to each other; the person next to you turns you on and you’re fascinated by them.
All of this together means that you like them as more than a friend and are highly interested in them.
Nevertheless, when it comes to relationships, each one of these emotions grows into true, unconditional love. At least, that’s how things should be in ideal conditions.
There are times when you think that you love this person more than you love yourself.
You would do anything for them and there is no one else you could picture yourself next to.