When Does Dating Turn Into a Relationship

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The dating world can be pretty tough to navigate. While it is fun to go on dates and meet new people, many crave a stable relationship where they can feel safe and secure.

But what are the rules when it comes to dating a person versus being in a relationship with them? How do you determine when you are in a relationship?

We’ve spoken to the experts and have conducted research for you so that you don’t have to. Welcome to the modern world of dating and the intricacies of establishing a relationship. Let’s find out more.

When Does Dating Become a Relationship?

Many of you might be in a situation where you don’t know your relationship’s status. How do you know when it’s the right time to broach this with your partner? And what are the criteria used to define a relationship?

Most people base their relationship status on the following criteria:

  • The number of dates you have been on with this person
  • A certain length of time
  • When the man asks the woman to be his girlfriend

If you’re basing your relationship on these, you are setting yourself up for failure by not focusing on the important elements of the relationship.

A fun way to look at things is to imagine that a relationship is like a cake. Just as you need certain ingredients to bake an edible and attractive cake, so do you need a few elements to create a wholesome and loving relationship with that special someone.

Key Elements of a Good Relationship

Keeping the cake analogy in mind, let’s look at the most important things that you should focus on in a relationship:

  • Time to get to know each other
  • Common interests with the person
  • Attraction
  • Emotion
  • Vulnerability
  • Communication

Without these, a relationship cannot survive and will ultimately fail. To understand where each of these elements fits in, It is necessary to look at the four stages of a relationship.

The 4 Stages of a Relationship

Every relationship generally has four stages to it. Let’s look at each one in more detail and then see where each element comes into play.

Stage 1: Meeting

Do you dream of a meet-cute situation like those in romcom movies? While these can happen, they are rare, and you are more likely to meet a potential suitor at a bar, party, online, or popular speed-dating events.

Stage 2: Dating and Attraction

Stage two in the relationship is often the most important and is where the couple gets to know each other, establishing a good foundation. The elements that come into play in stage two are communication, time to get to know each other, and attraction. Choosing to be intimate in this stage is not uncommon but should really only be explored in stage three.

Stage two of any relationship can last anywhere from one to four months.

Stage 3: Coupling

By now, you will have established that you are a couple, with the emotional element coming into play. This is where the intimate side of a relationship is explored, along with understanding your partner on a deeper level. Trust, honesty, and good communication are essential in the coupling stage.

Stage 4: Commitment

If you haven’t committed to the relationship by now, this is the time to do it. Find the time to sit down with your partner, establish where the relationship is headed, and either commit or move on. You can read our tips on how to have “The Talk” with your partner in the next section.

passionate hug of a couple in love

Top Tips for Having That All-Important Talk

Before you broach the question of commitment with your partner, as yourself the following questions to determine if you are indeed ready for a committed relationship:

  • Do you have a good, solid foundation that includes communication?
  • Do you take time to really listen and hear each other out?
  • Do you fully understand your partner, and do they fully understand you?
  • Are you able to fully and confidently express yourself to your partner?

If you answered yes to these questions, it is time for the talk. Here are a few must-know tips for talking to your partner about establishing a committed relationship.

Tip #1: Face-to-Face Always

While a text or email is quick and to the point, this conversation should be had face-to-face. Choose a time when you are both in a good space, relaxed, and happy. You can meet over dinner or drinks at your favorite restaurant.

Tip #2: Broach the Topic

Choose the best time, take a deep breath, and explain to your partner what you would like from the relationship. Ask them where the relationship is headed and if they, too, can see a future for the both of you. For the more traditional couples, this is where the man will ask the woman to be his girlfriend or vice versa.

Tip #3: Define and Establish

Define the relationship and plan for the future. This is the part of the talk where you will make plans, establish your goals as a couple, and settle into being in a relationship.

Last Tips

While the dating world may seem pretty complicated, knowing what you want and working towards that goal should be your only focus. Never settle for someone who is anything less than what your heart desires, and never allow yourself to be treated badly.

A good relationship takes time, has no set rules, and does not follow a specific time, so be patient and you will eventually find the one that turns your engine.


Many ask the question, when does dating turn into a relationship? Hopefully, using the tips and tricks we laid out, you will know when to make a commitment and when to walk away. Following our tips is not essential, but many have found it to work when establishing the status of your relationship with your significant other. Should things not work out, give yourself time to grieve, get up, hold your head up high, and try again.

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