We’ve all been there. You’ve been on a few dates with a guy and generally assume that you are “together” - only to find out that his understanding of the relationship was less… exclusive than yours. If this resonates with you, you are in the right place.
In this article, we will try to bring some clarity to the topic of “defining your dates”, shedding light on how different people view relationships - and the different things they may want from them. We’ll also show you how to identify and communicate what you want - giving you the tools you’ll need to ensure that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to defining your dates.
“Dating” means different things to different people, but at its most basic, it describes the early stages of an intimate relationship; a time when two people are getting to know each other, usually in an effort to determine whether there is the potential to take their relationship to the next level.
Dating can be sexual, but it isn’t always that way. It can be serious or light-hearted, exclusive or open, gay or straight, short-term, casual, long-term, committed – there is no one way that it can be defined.
How the relationship is described is—and should always be—up to the two people who are in it. However, since there are so many definitions of personal relationships, it is even more important to be able to clearly express your wants and needs in order to avoid hurt feelings. Here are some honest definitions of common terms that can help you to navigate dating expectations.
A casual relationship can be physical and emotional in nature without the expectation of the kind of long-term commitment you typically see in more traditional romantic relationships. Casual relationships can be part-time or full-time. They may or may not be exclusive.
Exclusivity means that both partners agree that they are not dating or having relations with others outside the relationship. For many, exclusivity extends to all aspects of the relationship, although some couples do choose to engage in consensual sex with others while remaining emotionally and socially exclusive.
Navigating Online Dating
Online dating can be a real minefield, as people’s wants, needs, and motivations can be easily misunderstood.
For those actively dating online, it’s important to use clear statements that describe what you are really looking for.
“Finding that special someone”, “looking for a partner to share my life with” or “searching for a meaningful connection” are all good things to say when you are looking for a relationship. They clearly describe your objectives and they do not make you sound desperate.
Stating that you are looking for commitment will not scare people away. You want to be sure that the other person is on the same page, right? It stands to reason that if they are also looking for a relationship, your expression will draw them in – not push them away.
On the other hand, “looking for a date”, “looking to hang out” or “hoping for a hook up” sends an entirely different message. Of course, if that’s all you’re looking for, then by all means say it. Just remember that, if you want to meet people who have the same goals in mind, it’s important to say what you mean.
The discussion around what type of relationship you want to have should take place as early on as possible - ideally on the first date, if you are comfortable to do so After all, you are getting to know each other. What better way to evaluate what you both want than to say it out loud?
Knowing what type of relationship you want and being able to talk about it is so important. It will save you both from a lot of heartbreak and worry, wondering if he wants the same thing as you do. It will also save you from spending time focused on a person who does not know what you want, and who may not share your goals.
Relationships are full of challenges, but not understanding each other’s relationship goals is a surmountable one. Whether you’re looking for a first date, or already in a relationship, being open and clear about what you are looking for is an essential step towards ensuring that you and your partner are in sync.