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    Blogs/Dating & Relationship

    Dating VS Relationship: What Are the Differences?

    by Becky

    Human connections are becoming more complex by the day. Romantic endeavors have been placed into many different categories and labels to indicate intent, level of commitment, and numerous other human sentiments. Two of these labels are, ‘dating’ and ‘relationships.’ In this article, we will pursue the dating vs relationship argument and analyze some key differences between them.

    What is Dating?

    Before we jump into the dating vs relationship debate, it is important to understand what either of them means. One of the simplest ways to define dating is the act of getting to know another person without any serious romantic commitment. Dating can happen on both an individual level, as well as in groups like speed dating. It is essentially a trial period where you learn the other person’s interests, ambitions, and principles and determines if they align with yours and whether the two of you are compatible or not. You try to figure out if you are sexually attracted to them and if the chemistry is enough for romantic pursuit.

    During dating you can adopt different modes of communication; dating sites, social media sites, text messages, calls and physically going out on dates. What’s important is to keep the communication honest and open so you know exactly what you are getting yourself into. There are many different stages of dating and we will explore each of them in more detail, later in the article.

    What is a Relationship?

    Lastly, before we embark on the relationship vs dating voyage, let’s find out what a relationship means. A relationship is a mutual, committed union between two people and in most cases is monogamous. When we think about exclusively dating vs relationship, the line becomes blurry as compared to dating vs relationship. It puts you in your comfort zone and is a great blend of romantic and sexual intimacy. It eliminates the uncertainty that dating carries and paves the path toward a more hopeful and positive future ahead.

    What is the Difference Between Dating and Relationships?

    photo source: google

    It’s time to start the dating vs relationship battle! Given below are some of the key differences between dating and relationships:

    1. Commitment

    Talking about dating vs relationship, one of the leading differences between the two is the level of commitment. Dating is a low-commitment venture, in which you can freely set the pace of how often you talk to your partner or how often the two of you meet up. Expectations are low in dating and you are not tied to the other person. On the other hand, relationships require a higher level of commitment, where you need to be more dedicated to communicating and spending time with your partner. You are also allowed to have expectations from one another and see them being fulfilled.

    2. Exclusivity

    Another difference that is quite common in most romantic associations is exclusivity. While you are dating, you are not exclusive with the other party and are free to explore your options. This is because dating is merely a testing phase and exclusivity is not expected. On the contrary, most healthy relationships are monogamous; which means that you are only dating one person at a time and seeing someone else on the side would be considered betrayal. There are, however, some cases of open relationships where the two parties could see multiple people, simultaneously.

    3. Uncertainty

    Dating involves a lot of uncertainty; For example, the more you get to know someone, the more their flaws you will find. And in some cases, you might have serious doubts about your compatibility with your partner. However, by the time you commit to a relationship, you have a great understanding of your partner. Then, you have wholeheartedly accepted them with all their baggage.

    4. Communication

    When it comes to dating, there is less pressure and expectation in terms of how frequently you communicate with your partner. However, in a relationship you may inherently expect to be more consistent in your communication like checking in on each other during the day, sharing small details about one’s life and consulting each other on matters of importance.

    5. Open Conversation

    When it comes to dating vs relationship, there is quite a bit of difference in how much you must share with your partner. While dating, you can always skip out on uncomfortable details and controversial areas of your life. However, in a relationship, you must feel comfortable sharing almost anything and everything with your partner, whether it’s details of past relationships, secrets or childhood traumas.

    6. Friends and Family

    While dating you might skip these out, but when in a relationship meeting your partner’s parents and their close friends is quite a staple. You might even split holidays between the two families. Even if you do not seek your family and friends’ approval on the relationship, the way they react to it can have a serious impact on it.

    7. Future

    Since dating is low-maintenance, there is little to no conversation about it and there is no expectation in that context. However, a successful relationship intuitively opens a path to a future together- even possibly a permanent one.

    8. Physical Intimacy & Living Arrangements

    While this can vary from one individual to another, dating often involves low levels of physical intimacy. Some people are not entirely comfortable sleeping at each other’s place, while others strike sex off of the table, entirely. In a relationship, physical and sexual intimacy is at its peak. You might sleep at each other’s place many nights in a row and maybe even move in together.

    9. Labels

    While you might use different terms of endearment to address your partner while dating; However, labels like ‘girlfriend/boyfriend’ or ‘husband/wife’ are strictly reserved for relationships.

    10. Emotional Attachment

    Since expectations are low and you can keep your options open while dating, you naturally feel less sentiment about the other party. On the contrary, in a relationship you are emotionally attached to your partner and their well-being and success are important to you. Their opinion holds great significance for you and you try not to cause them pain or hurt. In a relationship, there is a much stronger bond of trust.

    You may also want to know: Dating vs Courting: Understanding the Differences and Which is Right for You

    What are the 5 stages of dating?

    Whether you are meeting the guy you have been talking to online, for the first time or planning a weekend getaway with your partner, dating undergoes many different phases and changes. Here are the 5 different stages of dating:

    Stage 1: Attraction

    This stage happens very early in the relationship and is based solely on first impressions. During this stage, you focus on trying to impress the other person. This is a very pivotal stage in dating, as it defines whether you are attracted to the other person and would be willing to pursue a romantic endeavor with them. During this stage of uncertainty you will find yourself constantly communicating with your partner, whether it is through texting, social media, voice calls, video calls and even in-person on dates, to determine whether you want to move to the next level.

    Stage 2: Romance

    This is the stage where the uncertainty begins to subside and you can finally indulge on a romantic cruise with your partner. When we talk about dating vs relationship, this stage is often also known as the honeymoon phase as things are moving in a positive direction and your feelings for your partner keep growing stronger each day. You constantly feel love-struck by this person and are oblivious of their flaws. You want to be in their presence all the time.

    Stage 3: Reality

    Once the honeymoon phase is over and the perpetual infatuation begins to subside, reality hits you! You begin to see the other person’s flaws and shortcomings. The blinders are off and the red-flags start to become more obvious. This is the time when you might get into arguments with your partner and often find yourself at a crossroads with them over important decisions. In the relationship vs dating debate, this is a make-or-break stage. One of two things can happen; you can either overcome your differences and conflicts and get closer to one another or end the relationship for good.

    Stage 4: Intimacy

    Once your relationship has hit rock bottom, it is time to rise! If your dating rendezvous has reached this stage, then congratulations! You are officially in your comfort zone and ready to commit to the other person. By this point, you would have overcome all forms of uncertainty, doubt, conflict, and drama. Even if you not completely tend to make it work long-term, then you might find yourself falling in love with this person. Chances are that they will meet your parents and even your closest friends. Conversations will become more comfortable and intimate as you will not hesitate to share your insecurities with them. Your feelings for the other person will be true, and you will feel enthusiastic about their success and excited about your future with them.

    Stage 5: Commitment

    This is the happy ending of your dating process! You are now 100% prepared to commit to the future of your relationship with this individual. And you will also have had a lot of meaningful conversations about it. Besides, you can now address one another as ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend.’ When we talk about dating vs relationship or exclusively dating vs relationship, this is the last stage of dating and the first stage of a relationship. What’s more, you know the other person to the best extent possible and are accepting of them with all their flaws. You might even find yourself talking about the future; living together, getting engaged and starting a family, etc.

    Further reading: What kills long-distance relationships?

    When Does Dating Become A Relationship?

    photo source: google

    Quite often there are a few indicators that determine whether dating has transformed into a real relationship. For starters, you must have a direct conversation with your partner to determine the status of your association. When we were discussing dating vs relationships, one of the biggest differences was the level of commitment. Once you are truly and exclusively committed to an individual and prepared to embark on a journey in the future with them, that’s when you know you are in a relationship. You might show your commitment in different ways; living together, getting a pet together, meeting each other’s families, etc. Moreover, this could happen at any time; 3 months, 6 months, or 9 months in. No size fits all!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How Long Do You Date Before Being in a Relationship?

    When we talk about exclusively dating vs relationship, there is no fixed time when the former must morph into the latter. How quickly two people enter into a relationship after dating depends on many different factors. For example: how much time they spend together, how well they know each other, their level of compatibility and willingness to commit, etc. However, if we were to give a ballpark figure then, 3 months is a good enough period before you ask them to be your boyfriend/girlfriend.

    Does a Relationship Always Mean Dating?

    In most cases, the answer is no. When it comes to dating vs relationship, dating is mostly the pre-requisite to a relationship. For example, you meet someone (regardless of whether it is online or in-person), you hang out with them. Then, you get to know them, and eventually decide to commit to the process. In short, dating paves the path toward a relationship. However, in some cultures around the world, arranged marriages are quite common. So, in these cases, people married, which is a form of a relationship. And then spend the remaining time till the wedding getting to know one another.


    Now that we have thoroughly dealt with the relationship vs dating predicament, let’s conclude by talking about how important it is to make sure that both parties are on the same page. The difference in intentions and expectations can lead to a lot of friction. It also can create unnecessary drama. What’s worse, it causes permanent damage to something that could have turned out to be great for you. We hope that this article will help you understand better where you stand with your partner.