When does Dating become a Relationship?

There’s a thin line between what we call dating someone and actually being in a relationship with them.

The word ‘dating’ denotes that the link between two people is still tenuous, that their acquaintance is just starting, and that there are still no strings attached, no expectations, and no deep emotions at play. On the other hand, a relationship between a couple is the complete opposite, since it usually means that said couple are emotionally attached to each other, to the exclusion of all other possible partners.

Therefore, while people who are still dating are still sounding each other out and keeping their options open, those in a relationship have already settled to try to make things work with that special person they’ve fallen in love with, and with whom they want to share their experiences and everyday joys and sorrows.

The tricky part, however, is to actually understand where the dating phase ends, and where the relationship begins. Some never get to the relationship nor even want to, preferring instead to casually date different people in a relaxed manner without any ties. However, for most of us, dating does eventually evolve into a relationship.

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When I was younger, one of my biggest problems was in actually understanding when someone stopped being my date and actually became my boyfriend. I’m sure many of my boyfriends at the time had the exact same difficulty. So, the question arises: how do we finally become certain that the other person considers us their partner, and not just their date?

When the other person refers to you as their girlfriend/boyfriend – This is the easy way out. Simply wait for the other person you’re going out with to introduce you as such, and that’s it. Thing is, what if the other person in the couple is also waiting for you to clinch the deal? Would that mean that both of you would wait forever? Better not risk it!

girlfriend

When someone else refers to you as the other person’s partner, and you see their reaction – This one is pretty clear. There you are at a bottle party, and someone asks your date his girlfriend’s name. What does he do? Does he just reply calmly and in so doing affirm your role as his girlfriend? Does he hesitate? Or does he staunchly reply that you’re not his girlfriend but just a friend, and that your name is Tiffany? Hmm…

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Meeting the parents – Some people believe that when a partner invites you to meet their family, that means that they’re offering you a way into it. Personally, I disagree with this theory. How do you know whether he’s so laid back as to take all his friends, colleagues and acquaintances to the family BBQ? Maybe all the family members do this. Again, if at said BBQ opportunities number 1 and number 2 mentioned above crop up, you will then be clearer as to where you stand.

mistake

Asking you whether you’re dating other people – Here, the other person will be making it clear that they actually care if you do, that is unless they’re asking you to assuage their conscience because they’re actually dating someone else as well. In this case, better come clear and demand an exclusive relationship if you want one, or an open relationship if you prefer that.

niky

Telling you they’re in love with you – And there you have it! If you say it back, you’re in a relationship! If not, things might get a little bit confused or complicated, but this still wouldn’t mean that they wouldn’t be progressing towards one, if you want it, that is.

love

N.B This article was written by moi and was originally published in the online magazine EVE to be found here.

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A Rant about Expectations

‘A man will always promise more than he can really do, to a woman he does not understand’- so writes Philippa Gregory in the introduction to ‘The White Queen’, describing not just King Henry VII, but, in reality, all men.

queen

And what man understands any woman? No – such a being does not exist. Are all men therefore doomed to break their word? Looking back at past experiences, I am sorry to say that I think it’s true. All men end up breaking their word, because all men tend to promise more than they can realistically give, to a woman they love or one they want to bed, or one they want to impress. They promise and promise and promise, and I believe they do mean to stay true to their word, at least when they give it. However, reality is different, it intrudes upon you, and what one promises one day, could be very hard to do the next. Most men, unfortunately, take the easy path instead of the hard one, telling themselves that they will do better by you next time, and that in any case, you will never discover that they have not kept their word ‘just this once”.

Or am I being too pessimistic? Is Philippa Gregory wrong? Am I putting all men in one basket too easily?

Or are all women doomed always to search for that one man who will not break his word, just as men are always doomed to strive to keep their word, with no success?

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Is the fault in men, who should not promise what they cannot give? Or with women, who take everything at face value?

And then I ask myself, is expecting someone to be truthful so unrealistic after all? It’s not as if you are putting someone ‘on a pedestal’ just because you suppose they will keep their word, as they should, is it?

In the end, should we just endure the inevitable then, and just… accept it and move on each time?

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