Home  >  Love Couch  >  Sweet Love

25 Signs You’re Going from Dating to a Relationship & Steps to Do It Right

If you are wondering how to go from dating to a relationship, look no further. It’s a big step, so you have to do it right and be ready for changes.

Dating to a Relationship

Sometimes it’s not worth your time and energy to get into a relationship with someone you’re dating. You need to be prepared to make the transition from dating to “in a relationship.” As much as you want to think that things will be the same or better, you end up expecting too much.

Well, if you’re dating someone, hopefully, you’re lucky to have it all smooth and nice. However, things are going to change and you will need to invest in your relationship. 

It’s a simple rule: if a lottery player wants to win the jackpot, he has to buy a lottery ticket.

That logic also applies to your transition from dating to a relationship. This process requires your devotion, effort, energy, collaboration, and sometimes, the ability to be your own psychiatrist, best friend, and fortune teller at the same time. 

Weird, huh? [Read: Casual relationship – 80 casual dating tips and rules to not get hurt or attached]

How many dates before your relationship is official? 

There is no real answer to this question because each person and couple are different. Some like to jump in right away, and others like to take their time.

Regardless, most people don’t make their relationship official until at least they have gone out on a few dates. Because it seems a little silly to decide on a committed relationship after only one or two dates since you barely know each other.

So, usually, you go out on dates, then decide to be exclusive, and then decide to be in a committed relationship. Not everyone follows this guideline, but most couples do. [Read: 20 types of lovers and relationships you’ll come across in the dating world]

Unwanted situations during your transition to a relationship

You might think that the road from just dating to a relationship is really smooth because nothing really changes anyway, but that’s not entirely true.

It’s going to be a bumpy ride with occasional halts in the form of confusion. So, before you take the leap, here are the top five situations you’ll find yourselves getting into:

1. Not so casual anymore

Back when you were just dating, it was perfectly fine to “play it by ear,” so to speak. You could go on a date today and not talk to each other the day after. [Read: Relationship timeline – 16 most common dating phases of a relationship]

The dating game is full of these kinds of situations, where you’re free to do as you like as a single person, but you still secretly hope there’s someone who cares enough about you to be consistent.

But once you’re in a relationship, it’s your responsibility to be there for your significant other on a more consistent basis. You’re no longer free and single because you’re already committed to someone.

It may not be as serious a commitment as marriage, but it’s still a relationship where your significant other has the right to know what you’ve been up to. [Read: 42 signs you’re not ready for a serious relationship and how to let them know]

It feels good to know that you can reach out to your partner, and they’ll reach right back out to you whenever you need them.

But in some cases, the feeling that you always need to update your significant other can be suffocating, and to some, it feels like a lot more work than the casual thing you used to have going on.

2. Sexual intimacy as an obligation?

When you’re dating, the thought of being sexually active doesn’t worry you much because you know that your relationship is not serious—you’re just dating. [Read: Third date rule – are there benefits to waiting three dates to have sex?]

But when you’re in a relationship, a lot of people think sex becomes a priority because it somehow binds the two people together.

Honestly speaking, sex has nothing to do with being in a relationship. What matters is if you’re ready to be sexually intimate with your partner. Unfortunately, no one can tell you if having sex with someone is the right thing to do. That burden falls on you.

The only thing is that when you transition from dating to a relationship, you might think that it’s finally the “right” time to have sex or you have to have sex. [Read: Meaning of dating – how it works, types, 42 signs, and ways to date someone right]

If you think that by having sex, you’re going to achieve something, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

You should have sex only when it feels right for you. You are under no obligation to drop your pants or jump into bed with your partner, simply because you’re in a relationship with them.

3. Meeting the parents

Somehow, and unfortunately, it becomes a norm to meet your partner’s parents when you’re in a relationship, but not when you’re just dating. [Read: 18 signs it’s time and ways to prepare your partner to meet the parents]

A lot of people panic for no reason. But reality check—you’re just meeting their parents, not joining the army!

While some partners will not force you to have dinner with their families, others will take it upon themselves to have you meet their parents for “further evaluation.”

Back when you were just dating, the only people involved were the two of you, and maybe a handful of close friends. But when parents get thrown into the mix, it suddenly becomes a family affair.

You get friend requests from your significant other’s parents, you get invited to family events, and you get to meet extended family.

It’s like you’ve automatically added a bunch of new people to your social network, simply because you dated one of their family members.

4. Interests, goals, and the compromising they entail

Sometimes, no matter how cool your partner may have been about what you do, their true opinions on it and their true colors will show up only when you’re already in a relationship. [Read: 22 new relationship advice and tips to avoid newbie mistakes many make]

Why? Because you’re already somewhat committed, and you wouldn’t break up with them over something as trivial as their petty jealousy or their indifference towards your job, or their contempt for your pet cat, right?

Sadly, the best foot forward phase ends when you get into a serious relationship.

5. Suddenly, people have a voice

When you’re just dating, everyone thinks that you’re not really serious yet because you aren’t official. But when you transition to an official relationship, suddenly everyone’s opinions have to matter. [Read: Signs your friends are ruining your relationship]

A ton of people will give their *sometimes unwarranted* two cents about your relationship.

Suddenly, your significant other’s job, income, family background, thoughts on marriage, and even their pet warrant some sort of scrutiny.

While the people giving their opinion may just be looking out for you, it can still be pretty annoying. [Read: Dating exclusively but not in a relationship? The grey area dilemma]

Signs you are going from casually dating to an official relationship

Though the only sure way to know if you’ll get into a serious relationship with the person you’re dating is when one of you ultimately asks, there are still some signs you should look out for, so you don’t get caught off guard.

1. No awkward silences

Perhaps the most overrated reason of all, but it’s true. When you find that person that makes every conversation exciting or fun, that’s a great sign.

Nothing should be awkward. And if there are lapses in conversation, the silence is genuinely comfortable. [Read: Easy ways to avoid awkward silences during a date]

2. You make each other laugh by just being yourselves

Not only does this imply you both feel comfortable enough to not put on a show, but it also means you’re compatible, with a similar sense of humor, and the ability to bring each other joy.

3. There’s genuine interest on both sides

Captain Obvious, sure, but a lot of people forget what this feels like. After dating around for a while, you become jaded.

Maybe you haven’t shown genuine interest in a long time. Or maybe that special person is showing interest, but you’re skeptical because nothing seems to work for you. [Read: Dating vs. relationship – 16 clear signs to know your status right now!

If you’re past the polite, “let me make the best of this and not see them again after tonight” situation, you’ll know that you’re in it not out of politeness, but out of genuine interest.

4. You two always schedule another date

This is another great sign that you’re moving from dating to a relationship.

If you guys have been on more than one date already, and you always make a plan for next time, that’s a very good sign[Read: Dating, relationship, and sexual bases – common terms and their meanings]

For those who don’t, don’t worry. Oftentimes, it’s just a schedule thing. Everyone is busy in this day and age.

As long as you two talk after dates and make a plan to go out again, that’s a pretty good sign that you’re getting closer to getting serious.

What’s even better is when you both are direct and simply say, “hey, my work schedule is crazy this week, but if I get an opening, can I see you again?” [Read: 18 happy signs your date likes you and wants to see you again ASAP]

5. There’s a weird level of comfort that surpasses the butterflies

If you two are nervous but always seem to get into this weird, comfortable state together as the night progresses, that’s a sign that things are going well.

If you guys talk about a variety of topics and are comfortable around each other, don’t mistake it for being in each other’s friend zone. Chances are, it’s much, much more than that.

6. The cliché, phones don’t exist

Putting it simply, no one goes anywhere without their phones anymore. [Read: 15 cell phone rules every couple has to follow to build real trust]

If you are so intrigued by each other that you both set your phones down and talk, it’s the biggest compliment. It’s a matter of what’s more entertaining. And you’re both winning.

7. You could be doing the most interesting thing, or be in the most interesting place, and yet, you’re still more interested in each other

Sounds hard to do, but when you find the right person, there could be a man on fire running around you, and you’ll still be more interested in what the other has to say.

Whatever the case, you’re either blind to the world around you, or you’re both enjoying the world together. You both want to take it from dating to a relationship, you just haven’t said it yet. [Read: Relationship milestones – 15 dating highlights you should be proud of]

8. The flirting is obvious, but not trashy

Contrary to what’s become the norm, flirting isn’t always meant to be overly sexual and direct.

Flirting should start off innocently enough as an involuntary byproduct of attraction. In time, it can build up to sexual tension where you both can’t get enough of each other.

If you’ve had that evolution happen over the course of a couple of dates, then chances are, both of you are in it for the long haul. [Read: Friendly vs flirt – 34 subtle flirting signs to tell if someone is flirting with you]

Flirting that progresses too quickly into the sexual realm may mean that one or both of you are only in it to get laid, and not to be in a relationship.

9. Your body language changes when you’re together

Body language says a lot about a person. At first, you may be very conscious of how you sit or where you put your hands. However, in time, you may realize that you’re taking on a more comfortable stance.

Once you’ve gotten past the comfortable stance, you’ll find yourselves gravitating towards each other, with a brush of the fingers here and a nudge of the thigh there. [Read: Body language attraction – 58 male and female signs and how to read and use them]

If these initial touches are comfortable, they can build up to an investment that’s more than just physical.

10. Everyone around you gets awkward

This is the best reason in the world. If you manage to get to the point of meeting friends, there should be at least one instance during the night when you both make someone, if not everyone, uncomfortable.

It could be because you both find a corner of the room to talk or maybe you kiss in front of everyone for the first time. [Read: Stashing in a relationship – what it is, 26 signs you’re stashed, and what to do]

It could be that the moment feels right, and the tension can be sliced with a knife, but some poor soul is there with you, feeling awkward about the very obvious attraction you have for each other.

11. You have solid communication

Believe it or not, most people aren’t that good at communicating. They might think that they are, but they think their skills are better than they really are.

So if you think that the two of you can talk about anything, then that is a great sign. [Read: Mars and Venus? Obvious gender differences in communication]

Whether it’s solving problems together or really listening to each other’s perspectives on an issue, when you have solid communication with someone, there is a good chance you can be in a healthy relationship with them.

12. You both have incorporated each other into your lives fully

You have met their family and friends, and they have met yours. Not only that, you are starting to have a routine with each other and see each other on a regular basis.

You might even start checking in with each other before you make any independent plans because you want to give them the courtesy of a heads-up in your life. [Read: Boundaries in a relationship – 43 healthy dating rules you MUST set early on]

So, if you are really starting to feel like a more permanent part of each other’s lives, you are probably on your way from dating to a relationship.

13. You can overcome adversity and tell each other how you really feel

You might have already had a disagreement or conflict. And if so, don’t panic. Conflict is natural in any relationship.

So, if you have had a squabble or two and have come out of it better for it, then you can be in a strong relationship. [Read: 20 signs he doesn’t want a relationship with you and just wants to have fun]

And even better, if neither of you feels like you have to hold back how you’re really feeling about each other—or anything—then, that’s a great sign too.

14. You feel heard

Part of moving from dating to a relationship and having good communication is having empathy for one another. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and see situations from their perspective. Not just your own.

So, if you are able to voice your opinions and your partner expresses empathy toward you, then you might be moving from dating to a relationship. [Read: Reasons why empathy is important in a relationship]

Whether you have yet or not, empathy is a huge indicator that the two of you are a good match.

How to go from casual dating to a relationship

Now that you know the signs that you’re moving from dating to a relationship, how do you actually make it happen? Here are some tips you’d be wise to follow:

1. Don’t rush to DTR immediately

There is no reason to rush to define the relationship. Sure, you might be really excited about this person, but it’s probably best to take your time. [Read: Define the relationship – 30 signs it’s time to DTR and how to talk about it]

The reason for that is that if you jump in too soon, you don’t really know each other that well yet. So, take your time.

2. Bring it up lightly

Being needy and clingy about going from dating to a relationship is unattractive. That will just push your partner farther away. So, you need to be cool about it. Bring it up casually and lightly and be okay with whatever response you get from them.

3. Unplug to connect

Try something a little outside your comfort zone from time to time. [Read: How to broaden your horizons and get out of your comfort zone for good]

For example, check out a craft beer festival or try zip lining. Doing something that is different from what you normally do will bond you and make you grow closer.

4. Let your selfless side shine

No one wants to be in a relationship with a selfish person. So, make sure that you let your partner know that their feelings, wants, and needs matter to you. Be selfless and show them affection and nice gestures. A word of caution, however—don’t be a doormat.

5. Maintain your autonomy—and theirs too

Just because you want to be in a relationship with this person doesn’t mean that you should spend 24/7 together. [Read: Spirited steps to be independent in a relationship and love better]

In fact, that’s never healthy. You both should have your own life. Go out with your friends and do your own thing from time to time.

6. Show you care

If you are a stoic person and hard to read, then you will have to put forth some effort to show your partner that you care about them. Why would they want to be in a relationship with you if they didn’t think you cared? So, be brave and show your feelings.

[Read: 50 questions to check if someone’s right for you]

Dating around and looking for “the one” may seem like such a chore, but the transition from dating to being in a relationship can sometimes be just as daunting. Our advice is to just take it slow and give yourselves some time to adjust.

Liked what you just read? Follow us on Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest and we promise, we’ll be your lucky charm to a beautiful love life.

Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...