What’s the Difference Between Dating vs Relationship

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When you’re in a relationship, you address your significant other as a boyfriend or girlfriend instead of ‘someone you’re dating.’ However, there is a difference between dating someone and being in a relationship. While both are similar, each has subtle signs that make it different. So what’s really the difference between dating vs relationship.

4 Stages of Dating

5 Stages of a Relationship

Is it making sense? Do you still have questions? If you’re still confused, here are some differences between being in a relationship with someone and dating someone.

1). Priorities

Whether you’re in a relationship or just dating, they’re both meaningful. However, one situation prioritizes their partner less than the other. For example, when you date someone, you’re not in a commitment, so you’re not necessarily too serious about them, so it makes it easier to prioritize other things in your life, such as work, friends, hobbies, etc.

When you’re in a relationship, your partner becomes your priority. How you deal with others in your life may change because your partner comes first. Word of caution; if you fail to prioritize your significant other, you may find yourself dating again.

8 Ways to Make Your Partner a Priority

Is your relationship a top priority? When was the last time you had some quality time together? (And sitting in front of the television with your phones doesn’t count.) If you last connected with your partner a long time ago, change that right now with a few ways to make your partner number one again.

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2). Commitment

Regarding commitment, the difference between dating and being in a relationship is relatively simple. Commitment is the main focus in a relationship because both parties promise to be together. They make plans and look forward to the future because their partner is their main person.

Dating lacks commitment of any sort. The only future plan you may have when dating someone is whether or not to try that new sushi bar.

3). Expectations

Expectations always vary when you date someone or are in a committed relationship. When dating, you expect less from the other person. But, most time, expectations don’t match when dating. In other words, one person has more feelings than the other.

For example, he may expect one thing (calling no more than once every week), while she has completely different expectations (calling every few days). It's common for one person to be more into it than the other. It's that difference that creates issues when dating.

However, in most instances, both parties have no long-term expectations of the future with the person they’re dating. So, for example, they aren’t discussing where to buy a house or how many kids they want because they understand it’s only casual. Whether or not that changes into something more remains to be seen.

The very foundation of a relationship is built on expectations. You expect everything from your partner, including patience, love, and respect. At this point, the relation-SHIP has sailed, and you are happily cruising into the sunset together.

4). Mutual Agreement

One significant difference between dating and a relationship is the individual perspectives involved. Relationships are based on trust and mutual agreement. However, it’s different for dating. Some see casual dating as non-mutual.

In other words, one person feels casually dating equals some form of a relationship. Therefore, they do not mutually agree. The two parties have differing expectations. This is where feelings can get hurt. One person in this situation views dating as one thing, but the other person sees it another way.

Likewise, some people enjoy exclusively dating each other. However, they don’t consider it a relationship, but they agree to date only each other.

On the other hand, others prefer to date multiple people simultaneously instead of being committed to one person. As long as all parties agree this is the case, you can have a healthy dating life. The issue arises when both parties are not on the same page. So, be sure to make this clear early in the dating process.

5). Communication

There is a huge difference in communication regarding relationships vs. dating. You constantly communicate with your partner about everything when you’re in a relationship. Coming home late, what kind of milk to buy, paper or plastic, everything! You’ll wind up telling them all the details about your past and where you hope to be in the future.

Communication while dating is different. It’s basic and limited and doesn’t go too deep. It will mainly consist of where to eat tomorrow night and the gossip about your job. But it’s never too serious, and if it starts becoming more significant, you may be headed in the relationship direction.

6). No More Searching

When you date, you’re not committed to any one person, so you can still look around to see what’s out there. You keep in touch with other single people in hopes of connecting down the road.

When you are in a committed relationship, all searching ceases because you are with one person. Your “freedom mentality” changes because you believe you have found the one and don’t have to continue looking for someone special.

7). Comfort Level

If you are dating someone, you have a certain level of comfort, but it only goes so far. You guard your feelings because you don’t want anyone to know too much about you.

For example, when dating, they don't know you sleep with a blankie because that's too personal. In addition, your dating partner may not have met your family or friends because that comfort level isn't there, and you may be afraid someone will say something embarrassing to your date.

Depending on how long you’ve been together, chances are your partner has seen it all (yes, even the blankie.) So they know things about you that no one else knows, and you’re OK with that.

You also feel comfortable bringing them around certain friends and family members. For example, you’re not embarrassed for them to meet the one uncle who tells dirty jokes because you both laugh about it.

8). Social Life

We all have social lives, and only some are welcome into ours. While dating, we tend to keep the person out of our social circles. Why bother because we don’t know how serious the relationship will get? If we introduced everyone we’ve dated into our social life, we’d have a revolving door of people coming and going, which is not a good look.

However, circumstances change when in a relationship. We include them in all parts of our social lives and even occasionally introduce them to co-workers. These aspects are the progress that defines the differences between dating and being in a relationship.

9). Your Go-to Person

If you had a problem, who would be the first person you reached out to (providing Mom wasn’t a choice.) That’s right; your go-to person is the one you’re in a relationship with, not the person you’re dating.

In a committed relationship, you want to tell them everything. You can’t wait to describe your incredible day, and you can count on them when problems arise. Whenever you run into trouble, it’s your partner you trust.

10). It’s All about ‘Us'

When you’re dating, it’s all about the “I.” However, when you become a couple, it’s more about the ‘us.” You begin noticing that you use ‘us’ when talking about your partner. It’s “we did this last night.” or “we’re going to the show next week.” It’s as if all those love songs were true, and two became one.

In the dating phase, couples are still individual units and don’t always discuss doing things together.

11). The Title

If you have ever desperately wanted to be in a relationship, you know how elusive ‘the title’ can be and how important it is when your partner uses it. Getting the title of boyfriend or girlfriend is the most significant noticeable difference that happens when comparing dating to a relationship.

The title is how you introduced someone. It’s also how the outside world will view you from now on. When people you don’t even know talk about you, they’ll say something like, “Oh, I know her; that’s Will’s girlfriend.

When dating, there is no distinct title because you are still in that undecided stage. You’ll refer to the person you’re dating differently. Instead of boyfriend or girlfriend, they’ll introduce you as “my friend” or a “special friend” or simply use your name. 

For example: "Hey everyone, this is my friend, Marcy." or "Hey everyone, this is Marcy." This introduction is only disappointing if you want to be in a relationship. Otherwise, it's no big deal.

12). Duration

The dating phase typically falls into the range of only a few weeks or months. During this time, you’re exploring the possibility of either moving to the relationship stage, continuing as is, or going your separate ways.

A relationship is a long-term commitment, so it usually involves a more extended period. However, it indicates that you have known, respected, and loved someone and look forward to a happy future together.

Whether or not you are looking to date casually or for something more profound, it’s up to you. If you’re not getting what you want out of your current situation, move on. 

There is somebody out there for everyone. Good luck and Happy Dating!

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