“I am currently dating a girl who loves Italian food”.

Dating. It’s a word that we hear all the time. But for some, the word dating can be a bit of a gray area. For any two people, it could mean different things.

It could mean a committed, exclusive relationship. For others, it can mean seeing different people, testing out the water on various ‘dates’ to see if there’s chemistry before taking the relationship to the next level.

Holding Hands in Dating

It’s not difficult to imagine how this could be confusing for people. From your granny who asks if you’re dating anyone to your pals in the pub who may ask the same thing, dating is really a catch-all term that can cover all of the bases! 

Saying you are dating someone can mean everything from having a long-term relationship to hanging out on occasion or seeing someone a few times. 

The word is very subjective and can mean any number of things depending on who you’re talking to. So, let’s unpack it a bit more. 

Dating Someone

Technically speaking, dating means that you are going on dates, that you are meeting other like-minded folks and spending regular time with them.

It also means that you are seeing a specific person, purposely and regularly. 

Not Sure If You’re Dating Someone?

Given that the dating definition can be quite broad, let’s have a look at some generic parameters that spell out that you’re dating, especially if you’re not sure if you have a “thing” with someone or not. 

  • You like a person and you are actively trying to know them a little better.
  • Or You are seeing someone and spending time with them regularly with the hope of it becoming a committed, longer-term relationship.
  • You can envision a future with the person that you are seeing on a regular basis. 

If you could tick off any (or all!) of the above would mean that you are dating someone. 

However, there are many instances where you might think you’re dating someone but you’re not. Let’s have a look at what that would look like:

  • You are hanging out with someone but do not want a relationship.
  • Or You are hanging out with someone who has categorically said that they do not want any relationship. 
  • You only see a person a couple of times before moving on to the next. 

Essentially, whether or not you are dating someone, it all comes down to your intention.

If it is your intention to get to know someone you’re dating as you want to know if there’s a possibility of a future between you then you can consider yourselves ‘dating’.

If that intention is not there, then you’re not, plain and simple!

Exclusivity

Dating does not necessarily mean that you are being exclusive with one another.

It is more like an experiment and it’s a time to see where things go and if your feelings progress.

Becoming  exclusive with someone always needs an upfront conversation, focusing primarily on what it is that both people want.

Exclusivity In Dating

If you have not had that conversation, you should not necessarily assume that you are both singing from the same hymn sheet.

Even if you have been seeing each other regularly for a while, to take it to that next level of commitment will always require that awkward conversation. 

Dating vs. Dating Someone

‘Dating’ and ‘dating someone’ are not necessarily the same thing. ‘Dating’ on its own means playing the field out there. But, if you’re ‘dating someone’ then that means that the commitment conversation has taken place.

To some that may be like splitting hairs, but it’s important to recognize this difference. The difference, as mentioned, is always in your intentions. 

The Stages of Dating

Each couple goes through four typical stages in any dating relationship.

At any given stage, there is usually a decision (either consciously or unconsciously) to move on to the next stage or end it.

Some of the stages are longer for some couples than they are for others (after all, wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same?). 

Stage One: The Attraction

All relationships need to begin somewhere. An initial meeting might happen online, in your local church, in a social group, through friends, or at a bar. It could really be anywhere.

Where you met often has an impact on how you progress through the stages.

If you’ve known each other for a little while, then you may find that some of the stages are quicker than if you happened to catch eyes with someone in a bar or met online. 

Stage Two: Infatuation, Interest and Curiosity

The second stage of dating is where feelings of infatuation and attraction are felt the most.

Usually, an early attraction comes down to the physical qualities of your ‘date’ such as their body type, appearance, personality traits and interests. Usually, during this stage, each person in the couple is ‘on their best behavior’ and the attraction is not necessarily deep-rooted.

Couples at this stage do not tend to notice differences or, if they do, don’t think of them as being a big deal. Or, they even find the differences endearing during this stage. 

There’s usually not much conflict in Stage two due to the fact that both parties are trying hard to give the right impression to entice their partner.

The Honeymoon Strage

Most often, people think “I like him, how can I make him like me more?” rather than “Is he right for me?”. 

For most couples, Stage two of dating can last between three to four months although it is dependent on individuals’ maturity and prior experiences as well as how well they understand and know themselves.

As couples approach the next stage, this is when many people question whether the relationship is right.

Women especially like to know where the relationship is headed, so don’t be surprised if the question and awkward conversations begin to arise.

People should take their time making decisions about the relationship.

If you have taken your time, you are more likely to have chosen the best and the right path, unless it’s patently obvious that the relationship is not right! 

Stage Three: Coupledom and ‘Enlightenment’ 

This third stage is the ‘steady’ stage in a relationship, where the initial lust and hormones have calmed down and the couple is now seeing the reality of their relationship.

This is where deeper connections are forged. The trust levels become stronger and more intimate exposures may happen where couples feel more comfortable with being themselves in front of their partner and act more relaxed. 

Wooing your date

Due to this, both sides of the couple will spot flaws, differences and weaknesses. Habits once thought of as ‘cute’ might now become annoying when you realize that those habits are here to stay.

Differences begin to emerge in terms of your interests and behaviors such as being tidy or messy, on time or always late, wanting to spend lots of time as a couple or wanting to do separate things.

In this third stage, couples might start to express their annoyance or attempt to solve the ‘problems’. 

The developing intimacy means that there is more self-disclosure, both non-verbally and verbally too and this is when the big questions may enter the relationship such as “where is the relationship going?”.

Usually, it is women who want the answer to this question before men, although usually, both have been secretly wondering for a while.

However, if one party pushes for an answer, it may cause a problem. Here, each person should listen to their heart and dialogue should most definitely be forthcoming.

There is no rush.

If both people are happy with how it is, then keep it as it is! It is wiser to take one’s time rather than rush through the stages.

Stage Four: Engagement and Commitment

By Stage Four, couples understand each other well and have a shared lifestyle and shared goals. The also usually have a good relationship with other people who are important in their loved one’s life. 

Couples at this stage often have honest and very open conversations, planning their future together. They may have discussed their finances and careers, the possibility of having children (or not) and any desires they have for the future.

There will be differences, and these are entirely normal. What is important is how the couple handles any differences.

If it is with conflict and fighting that you seek to resolve things, then the relationship does not usually reach the end of this stage.

Popping the Question

If it is with teamwork, understanding and effective resolution, the couple grows together and makes a firm commitment. This is the point at which many couples become engaged to be married.

The engagement serves as a path to marriage but also is an important part of developing as a couple. Planning a wedding can be a stressful time and it can test the couple immensely.

This is important, however, as breaking off an engagement is a lot easier than breaking off a marriage and getting a divorce.

It’s been said that if you decide to break off the relationship prior to marriage, you can have a little pain now or more pain later. 

Though it is difficult at any stage, it’s much harder to end a marriage than a dating relationship!

The Different Ways of Dating

We’ve looked at what dating is and the different stages of it. Now we’re going to look at different ways in which you could date. 

Online Dating

Online dating is not really a new thing anymore. Sure, ten or even fifteen years ago, online dating was quite an unusual way to meet someone.

But, these days it’s an incredibly popular way of meeting a life partner. Most of us know people in our circles who met their significant other through online dating. 

If you’re an introvert and the thought of going out publicly to a bar or a party or other type of social event to meet someone is rather daunting, online dating is a great alternative for you.

Online Dating Fears

Where else can you immediately connect with hundreds (or more) of possible suitors looking for someone like you. 

These days, people are well aware of the dangers associated with online dating.

But, for the vast majority of people, there are successes to be had if you follow a few simple rules:

  • Meeting in public places.
  • Having someone nearby or with you.
  • Having a ‘tracker’ app on your phone prior to the date.
  • Even scheduling a phone call when you’re on your date with a code word for someone to come to your rescue should you need it.

With some basic common sense, online dating is a great way to meet someone.

Speed Dating

Usually, speed dating is organized by a dating service or an organization. Sometimes bars set up their own speed dating night to try and draw in more clients.

The idea is that single people show up at the location and spend one-to-one time with others in rapid succession.

This can be from around 5 to up to 10 minutes usually.

After the speed dating, people are free to gravitate towards others who piqued their interest with the hope of arranging another date in the future. Speed dating can be information overload.

You will be bombarded with many possible dates in short order, so that you have the possibility of making a one-on-one connection and getting to know each other further. 

Blind Dating

Most of us have heard of that couple that was set up on a blind date by their friends and have been happily married for decades.

The truth is, that may be the anomaly but it some cases it can work.

You just need a person to instigate it. Blind dates are usually set up by people you know such as friends, co-workers or even your family.

Letting your friends know what you’re looking for in a date (and what you’re not!) is crucial if you want them to set you up with someone you’re likely to want to see again. 

Double Dating

Double dating means that you and your date go out with another couple.

This is popular with younger adults or teenagers if they’re lacking in confidence or worried about awkward silences but, in reality, anyone can double date.

You just need to find a like-minded couple!

Try Double Dating

This type of dating often comes hand in hand with blind dating.

One person in a couple gets their date to bring along a friend and you pick a friend and there you go, a ready-made double date!

This kind of dating allows you to see how your date interacts with your friends too. 

Casual Dating

Of course, many people choose to keep their dating casual.

This means that the dates are not serious, and the person is going out with someone just for company or to experience a new date rather than for looking for a life partner.

They may even be going on dates a few nights a week with different people every time.

The important thing here is to make sure you’re both on the same page regarding what you want from the date, as mentioned above. 

Dating Tips

So, now you know all about dating, we have a few tips that will set you well on your way to finding the date that you want, whether you are hoping to find your soulmate or are simply wanting to have fun meeting different people every night of the week!

Dating Tip #1: 

First impressions. They really do count!

Remember, we make our judgments about someone within the first few seconds of meeting, regardless of what follows.

If you are not convinced, read a book called, “Blink,” and you will change your mind! So, make your first impression a good one.

Of course, it’s important not to pretend that you’re someone you’re not – no one respects a disingenuous person.

But, maybe those old comfy jeans that are your favorites might not be the best choice for your first date.

Also, don’t be late!

Dating Tip #2: 

Plan ahead. Make sure that you plan your date somewhere where you will feel comfortable.

Make sure it’s not somewhere that you’re likely to bump into exes or your work colleagues, but somewhere that is familiar and comfortable and quiet enough to have a conversation. 

Dating Tip #3: 

Confidence. All good dates ooze confidence, whether they’re faking it or not! Confidence makes you more attractive, that’s a fact!

Remember you don’t have to feel confident to act confident. 

Dating Tip #4: 

Listen. Don’t talk, talk, talk.

Ask questions and listen intently to the answers. It shows that you’re interested and want to get to know them more. 

Dating Tip #5: 

Keep it light-hearted. Steer clear of the dreaded topics of conflict: religion, politics and, of course, exes. 

Dating Tip #6: 

Turn off phones.

Of course, if you’re on a date with an online dating partner and it’s the first time you’ve met, you might want to keep your phone on just in case.

But, usually, phones on and at the table (or wherever) is a big no-no. Give your date 100% of your attention.

There is nothing more unattractive than someone who is constantly checking their phone!

Dating Tip #7: 

Share bills. Whether or not your date is a feminist, the majority of women still presume that their male dates will pay.

But, it’s not a bad idea to share, especially if you’ve been stung before by that “hanger-oner” because she enjoys your dates due to your lavish spending. 

Dating Tip #8: 

Call him/her. If you say you’ll call, do (even if it is just to them down gently!)

To Conclude

There you have it.

Everything you need to know about dating!

Dating can be a tricky business, from working out what it is you want from your dates to finding the people to date, the whole process sometimes feels like it is fraught with pitfalls.

However, the biggest step is often getting out there and giving it a go in the first place.

Happy dating!