When you start dating someone, it’s easy to start imagining what your relationship would be like, especially if you have a strong connection. But it can be hard to work out how to get there. And with the complexities that come with 21st-century dating, it’s to be expected. With so many more labels nowadays, from ‘seeing someone’ to being in a ‘situationship’, you’ve probably found yourself wondering ‘How many dates before a relationship is official?’ We’ve all been there, so let’s try to answer that question.
Ultimately, each of these stages is completely subjective and unique to each individual. For example, if you find your soulmate, you won’t be sticking to strict dating schedules – trust me. So when it comes to quantifying how a relationship should progress, it’s no exact science. Each relationship and connection between individuals is unique, so naturally, the development of your relationship will come at its own pace. However, there are a few common experiences that we’ll all have on the way to a relationship that let us know it’s on the right track.
We can look at dating as the prerequisite to a relationship: you can’t get to it without studying the basics. So let’s get back to those. Before we determine how many dates before a relationship is official, let’s look at the milestones we reach on the way to a relationship.
How many dates before you kiss?
The first kiss, like any other physical part of a relationship, will let you know if you’re sexually attracted to them and whether you have physical chemistry. It’s a crucial step in any relationship, so it’s best done earlier. It’s commonplace to kiss on the first date if all has gone well, but some people prefer to wait until the second date for this.
How many dates before it’s exclusive?
Once you’ve been seeing someone for a few weeks, it’s clear that you enjoy each other’s company and are invested in getting to know each other more. This could be 4 or 5 dates down the line, and it’s when you’ll start to wonder if you’re exclusive. There’s no way to know this without speaking to your date, so communication on this topic is the only way to truly know if you’re both not seeing anyone else. That said, the exclusive stage isn’t quite a relationship, but almost like a trial run of it.
How many dates before sex?
Now, this is a highly disputed one. We have the infamous 3 date rule, where people only have sex after the third date, but others are jumping into bed whenever it feels right, even if that is on date number one. The importance of sex varies from person to person, with some people comfortable with casual sex and others only sharing that experience with someone that they care about. This means that there really is no set number of dates you have to go on before having sex – it should happen whenever it feels right for you both.
When does dating become a relationship?
Aside from the number of dates you’ve been on, the nature of those dates or the other things you do together will indicate whether dating is slowly becoming a relationship. This could be anywhere from the first date to a few months of seeing someone.
Firstly, dating becomes a relationship when you don’t just go on dates. Of course, you’ll still be wined and dined, and do fun things together, but the foundation of a relationship lies in the mundane things. If you’re watching movies, running errands, and venting about your day whilst dating, or some of those things have become your dates, then you’re pretty much in a relationship.
You also know you’re in the relationship zone when your date becomes more than the exciting new person in your life. It’s when you start to rely on them and they naturally become a part of your routine.
Every couple is different
The biggest thing to remember here is that every relationship is unique. We all have different traits and experiences, which come together in unique ways when we connect with different people. This means that your values, perspectives, and needs will differ hugely from relationship to relationship, so the question of ‘how many dates before a relationship is official?’ will vary too.
Considering this, you’ll realise that there’s no set, one-size fits all approach to working out how many dates before a relationship is official. Whilst the timelines we covered above can act as good rough guidelines, ultimately, you should decide when you’re in a relationship when it feels right.
Is it important to you?
You also should ask yourself if quantifying your relationship’s development is important to you. Some people prefer to go with the flow and let things happen naturally, whilst others like the security of having dating milestones to work towards. If you’re more easy-going then the number of dates and how far along your relationship is simply won’t matter. But if you do want to know when you’re official, then the social norms will provide you with the answers you’re looking for.
Use your intuition
If it’s still early days, then rely on your intuition to help you decipher whether your relationship status will change from ‘seeing someone’ to ‘in a relationship.’ Your date will give off several verbal and non-verbal cues that will show you the relationship is going in the right direction, including:
- They’ll talk about the future and you meeting important people in their life
- They are truly interested in getting to know you
- They remember things about you
- They want to spend quality time with you
So whilst the typical relationship milestones will come, there’s no set timeline for those things to happen.
Communication is key
To know when your relationship is official, the only way to find out for sure is to speak to the person that you’re dating. If things are going well and it feels right to you, then why not bring up the conversation? Putting all your cards on the table will save you time and energy in the long run. The number of dates that you go on before making a relationship official will vary from couple to couple and ultimately needs to be something that you are both comfortable with. For more dating advice, check out our other posts on Miingle.