Defining your relationship with someone you’ve been seeing can be something you both dread and wish for. What if you’re not on the same page? What if the other person wants something else, and what you have now might be lost?
A lot of signs you are unofficially dating can tell you that you’re beyond hanging out and moving into a new phase of your relationship. When you’re involved in what relationship experts call a situationship, there are a few ways it can go.
Depending on your feelings and intentions, and whether the both of you want the same thing, it might be time to either define your relationship or make space for a real one if this isn’t it for you.
Here’s how to find out where you stand and what to do about it.
Signs You Are Unofficially Dating
There are lots of signs you are unofficially dating, and they can tell you a lot about what kind of relationship can develop.
A casual relationship or a situationship may seem like a gray area, but it’s important to note that it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You don’t always need to have the talk – you can just enjoy having fun together.
Still, there are some signs that will tell you that your relationship has crossed over into romance territory, while others warn you that you’re on the threshold of a toxic relationship. There are ways to tell – you just have to take the leap.
More than a hookup, less than a couple.
A lot of time, unofficial dating never turns into a serious relationship. This is completely fine if you’re okay with it. Usually, things get complicated if the balance of emotions changes, and while one person is happy as it is, the other one develops feelings and wants to move forward.
Here are some signs that, at the moment, you’re happy being in a dating relationship. It’s casual but not unimportant. Right now, you’re just having fun, and while things might change in the future, at the moment, you’re happy the way it is.
1. You see each other regularly.
Even though you probably don’t call it going on dates, you see each other on a regular basis. Sometimes you go out, sometimes you stay in, but you see each other more often than not. Both of you take it as a given that you’ll see each other even when you don’t talk about it.
2. You text each other all the time.
Even when you’re not together, you stay in touch. It’s not only that you text each other every day – it’s that your texting never really stops. You don’t even hesitate to text them when you think of something they would like. There’s always something to talk about.
3. You’re sexually compatible, but it’s not just about that.
You’ve had chemistry from the start, and this may be what drew you together. Still, there’s something between you that’s more than just friends with benefits. You hang out without having sex, and things don’t revolve around it. And yet, you’re not quite together either.
4. You get jealous.
You’re not a couple, but you don’t like it when there are hints that other people may be in the picture. Any mention of exes is irritating. This could be a sign that you want to change your relationship, or you’re just the kind of person who gets jealous easily.
5. You’re not seeing other people.
Somehow you ended up being exclusive even though you never talked about it. You’re not dating anyone else, there are no flings, and you’ve forgotten you even had dating apps installed. It probably isn’t even on purpose – it’s just that it never occurs to you at all to look elsewhere.
6. You have inside jokes.
Lots of your jokes are of the ‘you had to be there’ kind because when you spend as much time with someone as you do, you have lots of experiences and make memories that don’t include other people. You also probably have nicknames that you use with each other.
7. You can talk to each other.
You’re able to talk to each other about more than just what you’ve been up to and what you’re into. You’ve shared things with each other that you don’t talk about easily, and you were there to listen when they shared theirs.
8. You’re comfortable with each other.
It might take a while for people to become comfortable around each other, but you’re already there. You feel relaxed enough around each other to be who you are. You might not have reached the point of intimacy yet, but you don’t feel like you have to hold back around them.ž
9. There are some feelings.
Maybe it’s not love, but there’s probably some level of caring for each other that you feel. If someone asked you how you felt, defining it might be hard. You like them, that’s for sure, but you don’t really know what you want to do with those feelings at the moment.
What are you? You don’t know, and you might or might not care. At this point, things might work for the both of you as they are, but it’s unlikely that your relationship will stay the way it is. It will either fizzle out or get serious. Only the two of you can decide which way it’s going.
Should you make it official?
Sometimes a casual relationship is already a romantic relationship. If you feel like you need it, this might be the time to define the relationship and officially call yourself a couple. Doing it might give you a push to become even closer.
Here are the signs that you’re already unofficially official:
1. Both of you want to be together.
This is really the most important thing when you think about relationships – it can only be successful if both people want it. Only then will you put in the work and give it your all. If you’re both on the same page, then making it official is just a formality.
2. You want each other in your lives.
Because you want to be part of each other’s lives, you make space and time for each other. It goes from small things, like keeping toothbrushes in each other’s bathrooms, to more significant ones, like a standing invitation to each other’s family gatherings.
3. It feels official already.
The only difference between a ‘real relationship’ and what you have is that you’ve never really sat down and talked about it. The most likely reason is that you never saw the need for it and just went with the flow. If your feelings about this change, it might be time for a talk.
4. People sort of assume you’re together.
A good sign that you’re giving off couple vibes is if people already think you are one. It doesn’t even have to mean that you’re doing couple-y things where others can see, just that something about the two of you tells others that you’re together.
5. You’ve talked about the future.
While you’ve never talked about having an official relationship, you’ve already talked about doing things together in the future. Including each other in your future plans – such as having made vacation plans for the summer together or even more long-term plans – means that you already see each other as partners.
6. Being vulnerable with each other isn’t scary.
Sharing your softer sides with each other doesn’t make you feel like you’re at risk of getting hurt. Instead, you have confidence that the other person will accept you and make you feel cherished and understood.
You always have time for each other. When you don’t, you make time. Spending time together is the most important thing for the both of you, and you prefer to sacrifice other things than neglect to see each other.
8. You care about each other’s opinions.
When you have something going on in your lives, you want to share it with the other person and find out what they think about it. When you have to make an important decision, you want to hear their input. Taking into account each other’s opinions and thoughts is one of the signs that you see each other as partners.
9. You rely on each other.
You’re the first person they come to when something good, bad, funny, or important happens and vice versa. When you need something, they are the one you rely on to help you with it. You know you can come to each other with anything without being judged.
10. You know each other’s friends and families.
You have not only met each other’s family and friends, but you’re also close to some of them by now. Not keeping each other apart from your loved ones is another step in including one another in your lives. They all probably assume you’re official.
11. You go on romantic dates.
You don’t just hang out; you go on actual dates that have been carefully planned. You’re happiest when you’re together, and you want that time to be as special as possible. You have a good time when you’re together casually, but you also make an effort to spend romantic time together.
12. You see yourselves as a unit.
Spending a lot of time together and bonding closely makes you start seeing each other as a unit. Both of you use “we” to talk about what you’ve been doing because you’re always doing things together. But also, you feel like being together is what makes it special.
13. You’re not interested in anyone else.
Even though you’re not officially in a committed relationship, in your hearts, you are. Neither of you has any interest in seeing other people, and the thought itself makes you uncomfortable. Other people don’t really exist for you, and you don’t mind at all.
14. You’re always talking about them to other people.
Whatever you’re talking about, you can always find a way to turn the topic of conversation to them. Your friends and family members think it’s cute and just a little bit annoying. But you can’t help yourself – they’re such an important part of your life that you can’t think of anything that doesn’t involve them.
15. You feel an emotional connection during sex.
When you have sex, it feels intimate and significant. You’re comfortable and uninhibited with each other, and you’re able to communicate freely. Your sex life is fun and healthy, but something about it goes beyond just spending enjoyable time together.
When to move on
People get into relationships out of convenience or boredom and spend time with someone they don’t really like enough to see themselves having a serious relationship with. Being together can bring you closer, but it can also make you actually dislike each other.
Sometimes it’s an acquaintance you start having sex with and hanging out with, so it’s not even a clear FWB situation but something not here nor there.
Things can change, though, and you’re in for heartbreak if one person starts developing feelings for the other. Then it’s nothing but bad news because the other person might still not really care.
Here’s how to tell that it’s better to get out before someone gets hurt:
1. You don’t make plans.
When your relationship is one of convenience, you don’t really try. You’ll meet up only if the mood strikes and you have nothing better to do. If you’ve made plans and something more interesting came up, it would be annoying, so you usually see each other on a whim.
2. You don’t talk about the future.
Future plans especially never come up. You don’t think about them in that sense at all – picturing yourself with them down the road makes you feel bad because that would mean no one better came along. You prefer to keep your future plans open.
3. You don’t go on romantic dates.
You have no interest in being romantic with each other. Hanging out is fine, even when it’s just the two of you, but doing lovey-dovey stuff with them makes you break out in hives. You’d rather not share romantic dinners or cuddle with this person if you have a choice.
4. If someone else came along, you’d stop seeing them easily.
Another person could easily snatch either of you away. If someone you liked better came along, you’d have no problem never seeing them again. It’s not that you’re sitting around and waiting for a better option, but if one came along, it would be easy to leave your current situation.
5. You don’t really mention them to others.
You might be feeling like other people would judge you if they knew you were dating them. They might not, but you don’t want to risk it because you yourself don’t like the fact that you’re together, so you don’t even want to be reminded of it.
6. You’re not crazy about being seen with them in public.
Maybe you’re a little ashamed of your current relationship, or maybe you simply don’t want to make any effort when it comes to them, but you don’t want other people to see you together. If someone you know spotted you together, it would lead to questions and explanations, and you really don’t want that.
7. You go out to secluded places.
Beyond just not being seen together, you’re not too keen on going to places where there are a lot of people because you’d feel uncomfortable about your behavior. You don’t really like yourself when you’re together, and you’d rather keep it to yourself.
8. There’s no evidence of you being together.
You don’t take pictures together, you don’t share anything involving each other on social media, and you don’t keep anything to remind you of them. At the moment, you’re not eager to share your status, and you know that when you split up, you won’t want to be reminded of this relationship.
9. You’re only ‘together’ because it’s convenient.
The main reason there’s anything between you is because it’s convenient. You’re having fun hanging out and hooking up, but that’s all there is. The longer you stay with them, however, the longer you keep yourself away from a relationship with a future.
10. Neither of you wants anything serious with each other.
If neither of you really wants to be together, it’s a clear sign that your relationship should probably end. It’s not that you dislike each other, and it’s not just a physical relationship, but something about them simply makes you not want to actually be together.
How To Define Your Relationship
The first thing before you decide to go into defining your relationship is to make sure that it really bothers you that there’s no label. Don’t feel pressured to define it if you’re happy with it the way it is.
When you do open up the subject, it’s very important that you’re able to express what you feel to the other person without worrying about what will happen to your relationship.
You might both agree that you’re fine with things as they are or that one of you needs more time before talking about the status of your relationship. A healthy relationship is based on open communication, and you have to be able to tell each other your concerns for a long-term relationship to be possible.
1. Make sure you really are interested.
You should first start by thinking about your own feelings. Are you interested in this person, or is your relationship a habit at this point? How do you feel about them, and can you see yourself with them in the future?
2. Think about your relationship.
What’s your relationship like? We talked about different versions of an unofficial relationship – which one does yours resemble? Do you like how it makes you feel? Do you enjoy spending time together? Would you like things to change or stay the same?
3. Find out what the other person wants.
Even before you begin the conversation, you can tell how the other person feels from their behavior, but you shouldn’t jump to conclusions. It’s good to wait until you have an inkling that they might be on the same page, but you’ll never know for sure until you actually talk to them.
4. Be honest.
Don’t try to downplay your feelings in fear that they’re not reciprocated or that you’ll get hurt. Be open and let the other person know if you need your relationship status to change. Maybe they’ve been waiting for you to make the first move this whole time. Maybe they’re not ready.
If you’ve done the earlier steps and carefully examined your feelings, your relationship, and thought about what how they act tells you about their feelings, there’s a chance that you’re at the point where the both of you want the same thing.
5. Do it casually.
Don’t try to force anything, though. Make sure you’re not coming on too strong and demanding things if the other person isn’t ready. If it’s too soon, and you still need to spend more time together to be sure, give the both of you time and revisit the conversation later.
There’s a chance that both of you will decide that it’s time to end things. It might be for the best if it just wasn’t working, but you shouldn’t grieve for something that wasn’t right for either of you. Instead, look forward to the first date with someone new you’re about to meet.
If you realize that both of you want an official romantic relationship, congratulations! Take things easy at this point, and treat it as a new relationship even though you’ve been together for some time. The reason for this is that things have changed, even though it seems they haven’t that much, and it might take some time to get used to it.
Make It Work
When you’ve moved past hanging out and you’re actually spending significant time together, you might recognize yourself in some of these signs you are unofficially dating.
Some of them mean that a casual relationship is fine at the moment. Some tell you to have the talk and make your romance official, while it’s also possible that you shouldn’t really continue this relationship.
Any relationship coach will tell you that it’s the feelings of both people involved that make all the difference, and this applies in this case as well. When the willingness to invest yourself in the relationship is on the same level, you’re able to make things work.