Have you ever met people who have been together for a long time and just felt like the only explanation for what these two people have is that they’ve just been together like this forever? If you’ve been single for a long time, and surrounded by friends in couples, you can often wonder how it is that these people even started out on their own journeys together.
The question of how you start dating someone is actually a very valid and important one. Furthermore, when you do start dating someone, how many dates or how long does it take before you can say with any certainty that you are “in a relationship” with that person? Does such a milestone need to be acknowledged or celebrated? How do you know what rules apply when you’re seeing someone new? Is it okay to still date others in those early stages?
We’ll try to answer these questions and more in this article.
Dating Someone: Getting Started
First Meeting and Connection
The first part of any dating process has to be securing that first connection either through meeting in person or meeting online. You shouldn’t think that meeting or connecting with people online is lesser at all. In fact, about 40 million people in the US are currently making use of some form of online dating site, so it’s already firmly established within the mainstream.
See also: How to Get a Date
A first meeting or encounter isn’t and shouldn’t be counted as a first date. Let’s take in-person meetings as an example. You might be introduced to someone by a friend at a party or another event, or you might run into someone completely by chance, perhaps seeing them across a crowded room in a bar. The first steps you have to take in a journey to date someone is to secure at least one method of maintaining contact with them: phone number, Messenger ID, WhatsApp, email, or something.
Following the first meeting comes a period of communication. This may be short or long depending on how you met them. Those who’ve met in person initially may feel better about keeping this period short and arranging their first real romantic date. Those who’ve met online might extend the communication period to allow one another to be more comfortable and sure about who the other person is before moving forward. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule.
The next step is to go on real romantic dates. What you do on these dates is entirely up to you, but should probably be something that you both can find enjoyable. If the first date is during the day, then the two people might meet for coffee or lunch. If the date is in the evening, then it could be dinner, perhaps followed by a movie, comedy show, or something really classy like the opera or ballet.
See also: Guide for the First Date
Grabbing coffee is very often a more casual kind of date where there is little to no expectation of anything overtly romantic during or after. It could act as a prelude to a more romantic get-together that evening or another night. An evening date is more suggestive of a “real” full-blown date where two people are taking their first steps toward a possible relationship.
Establishing a Dynamic
After going on a few dates, let’s say three dates as an example, it falls to most couples to try and establish what kind of dynamic their new fledgling relationship will take on. Will it move to the next level with sex, more intimacy, and exclusivity? Will it end there with both realizing that there’s nothing much between them? Will it remain a more casual and fun relationship such as “friends with benefits”?
For most couples, they’ll know within 2-4 dates what kind of dynamic they are hoping to build. Some may take a bit longer, however, going on dates for a longer time before deciding what it is they really want to do in the longer term.
How Long Do You Date Before Getting Into a Relationship?
So, how long is the gap between the above-described process: meeting, communication, dates, and establishing a dynamic, and being able to say with any clarity and accuracy that you are indeed “in a relationship”?
Alas, the answer isn’t so simple.
A popular idea portrayed in many media circles is that people will generally go on about 3 dates before things move to the next level. The third date is often perceived as the one where the two people will spend the night together for the first time, especially in the world of heterosexual dating.
- First Date – Sharing all the essentials, getting to know someone, seeing if there’s a spark
- Second Date – Exploring the spark while doing something different from the first date, perhaps something more active or lasting for a longer period of time
- Third Date – More intimate, romantic and a chance to ensure that both parties are comfortable and have the urge to raise their game and take their relationship to a new physical level through sex.
After the third date, it would be understood that the two people have something worth exploring, and there may well be an expectation that it should continue. In many cases, especially where the sex has been enjoyable, the two will continue in a mostly physical and fun relationship where they’re going on dates and spending a lot of time in each other’s bedrooms.
Sometimes, however, one party can be disappointed as they find that after having sex with the other person, the spark and passion are gone, and that other person loses interest. This is the weakness of the 3-date rule.
For some who don’t feel they can work out a relationship dynamic in three short dates, they may follow a longer timeframe, such as one month. In any given month, two people could meet up at least 7-8 times, even if it was just on weekends. Through their various dates, sexual encounters, and time away from that person over a month, they may be able to better work out whether or not they feel they have something real and worth pursuing with another person.
It’s not like there are laws or solid rules set in stone when it comes to deciding what period of dating would precede two people declaring that they are officially in a relationship. For some, 3 dates might be enough, for some a month might be enough, but for others it might take longer.
How Do You Really Know If You’re “Dating” Someone?
To wrap up teh article, let’s think about some of the things that indicate that we really are officially dating someone and are in a relationship.
- You maintain constant and frictionless contact with the other person. There are no awkward gaps, and your conversations feel natural and fun.
- You think about the other person when they’re not around, and you like that, especially because you know they’re doing the same for you.
- You’re the first person they contact in the day, and the last one they say good night to.
- Neither of you are thinking about seeing other people.
- A strong level of intimacy, closeness and trust has developed between you
Finally, don’t forget that you can always just talk to your new other half and find out directly how they feel and what they are thinking. Sometimes, getting the answer from them is just what you need to know that it’s what you want, too.