Feb 012013
 

Ever wonder how to transition from casual dating to a serious relationship?

Most of us have experienced a serious relationship by accident, usually when we really like the person we’re dating and it just naturally develops into something more. Most of us have also experienced a relationship we wanted to take to the next level, but it just didn’t work out. If you’ve ever been in the latter situation, you’ve likely wondered if there was anything you could have done differently.

Casual Dating to Serious Relationship Image

The good news is yes, there are things you can do to increase the chances of a casual relationship getting serious. This doesn’t mean you’ll get along smashingly with everyone you date – some people are just incompatible. Don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work out every time. In fact, that’s usually a sign of healthy expectations.

If you want a relationship with everyone you date, it could mean you have low standards and need to develop your self-esteem.

So, how exactly do you turn a casual relationship into a serious relationship?

The most effective thing you can do is work on yourself and make sure you’re ready for a relationship. If two people are romantically compatible and interested in a relationship, a relationship will happen as long as someone makes an effort to move it forward and no glaring flaws are revealed.

As you develop yourself and figure out what you like and don’t like in relationships, you’ll find them to be a lot less work. At this point, it’s simply a matter of a putting yourself out there and finding someone compatible. Below you’ll find my top four pieces of advice for people who are ready to make the jump from casual to serious dating.

One of the best things you can do is develop a lifestyle that reflects your passions, beliefs, and values.

Many people live a lifestyle that doesn’t reflect who they are and what they believe in. People who are passionate, but work an unfulfilling job to make ends meet; people who are health conscious, but who eat a diet based on what’s convenient; people who have a great deal of self-respect, but whose bodies don’t reflect the respect they have for themselves.

If you keep attracting the wrong people, you’re likely giving people the wrong impression.

Deep connections are based on values. If you want to stop dating casually, you have to find people who value similar things. Good looking people who value what you do are out there, but you have to help them find you. Ask yourself: what does my lifestyle say about me? If I saw myself walking down the street, or heard stories about the things I’ve done, what kind of opinion would I form?

On top of attracting the type of people you want in your life, every aspect of a congruent lifestyle contributes in some way to personal and relationship well being. An active social circle helps reduce feelings of neediness and boredom, working out regulates stress levels and keeps your body looking good, and a rewarding career helps you feel a sense of purpose and direction.

There are literally thousands of benefits from living a positive lifestyle which indirectly enhance your relationships, not to mention the vast improvements in personal well being. If you need some ideas, take a look at these articles.

Remember to communicate with one another.

When it comes to dating, everyone has different expectations about when certain milestones should happen. While you might think things are going great and wonder what to do for date five or six, they might be thinking of calling it quits because you haven’t even invited them over yet.

When you start to feel like there’s a potential future, it’s a good idea to talk to your date and see how he or she feels. A relationship is a two way street, and if you want things to go smoothly it’s important that your vision and their vision of how the relationship will move forward are in sync.

There’s no secret strategy for successful communication. Yes, it can definitely be intimidating to open up, but being straight up is usually the best policy. Don’t worry about what to say or if you’re saying it at the right time – there is no right or wrong in relationships.

Remember: if you aren’t expressing yourself authentically, you’re not going to find an authentic match.

Casual Dating to Serious Relationship Image

It’s a good idea to sort out your baggage before starting a serious relationship.

You might be sabotaging your relationships without even knowing it. Things like unhealthy levels of jealousy, trust issues, anxiety at the thought of being “off the market”, and financial troubles are all examples of personal baggage that can work against you.

It’s not always necessary to deal with baggage on your own; lots of people are willing to help their partner get his or her life together in order to move things forward. The likelihood of someone sticking around is related to the severity of the issue, so use common sense and figure out which issues should be resolved first and which you can work on as you go.

There are many free or low cost counselling options for people who are interested in dealing with issues like insecurity, jealousy, addiction, co-dependence, and so on. If you feel like your personal issues are holding you back, I encourage you to do some Googling and take action. Alternatively, you can contact me and I can make some suggestions.

Casual Dating to Serious Relationship Image

Take action with the suggestions below and move the relationship forward.

People often look at getting serious as some complicated, mysterious thing, but it really isn’t. Getting serious is nothing more than opening up and getting comfortable with each other in a more personal way. After you’ve talked and decided you both see potential, increase the depth of your connection by sharing meaningful experiences together.

As your relationship develops, you’ll gradually hit milestones along the way. Some examples of milestones that will bring you closer together: sleepovers, space for your stuff at your partner’s place, taking care of your partner when they’re sick, showering together, being able to take a dump at your partner’s house (for women this is a big one!), traveling together, and so on. This is how people move from liking each other to loving each other.

If you’ve gone out on a couple dates and you’re enjoying yourself, invite them back to your house (if you haven’t already.. nothing wrong with having fun!). Mention that you’re having a good time and wouldn’t mind having a few drinks afterwards. Whenever you feel comfortable, have a night in instead of going out somewhere. If these sleepovers become more common, casually ask if it would be OK to leave a few essentials for the sake of convenience.

You get the idea. This progression will happen naturally for the most part, and if it doesn’t, something is probably up. Be honest about the way you’re feeling and ask if there’s any reason you can’t leave a few things over, or whatever it is you’re curious about.

Are you in a frustrating relationship? Do you have any ideas for transitioning from casual dating to a serious relationship? Leave a comment below!

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Ryan Jakovljevic

Ryan is a social psychology major and personal development coach. An avid writer and public speaker, he provides coaching and counselling on relationships, dating, and self-improvement worldwide via Skype, phone, and email.

  13 Responses to “From Casual Dating to a Serious Relationship”

  1. I still dont understand the difference between some one dating exclusively but still not some one girl friend. especially after dating for about 6 weeks. What makes the difference to cross that like to boyfriend for the guy she is dating.

  2. Josh,

    The only real difference is the label. If you’re dating casually, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal if it doesn’t work out. As soon as you label it officially boyfriend/girlfriend, you attach the meaning and expectations associated with those words.

    If you want to get serious after casually dating for a while, let her know. If she doesn’t want to, ask why, and do what you can to deal with her concerns.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Hi ryan,
    I have just finished the 6 months relationship and keep wondering what was the problem. My guy needs to move to singapore and he is sort of guy who will not show and speak out his feeling. Last few months we had a great time together, we saw each other 4 times a week and he began to sent me texts more often and always before me everyday asking what the plans. At home(his home) he treated me so well.
    Cooked for me gave me massage. make sure my phone has battery and prepare the bed for me. made me think that he is commiting to me as no guys i dated did for me then one day i decide to discuss about our future because he would move soon and answer make me surprisely he said with his eyes on tear! that he does not believe in long distance relationship and not sure if i would be right girl.
    If he does not like me why gave me so much ( gradually more and more everyday)
    Will guys waste time with girl who they think she would not be the right one.
    What do guys look for in their right girls?
    In this case i feel like … He likes me but it hurts to carry on while we are apart so better cut of
    Or he pretended to be nice but he did not like me.
    Ps. I had many dates before and they never last longer than 3 months.
    Thank you so much. Im stucked and hope you unleash me

    • Hi Titi,

      Thanks for sharing your story, I’m sorry to hear you’re going through a rough time.

      I don’t think he was wasting time… it sounds to me like he really cares about you, and his actions seem to reflect that. He’s likely being honest when he says he doesn’t want a long distance relationship, and that doesn’t mean anything went wrong.

      If he didn’t have to move maybe there could’ve been a future, but I think you’re right when you say it hurts to carry on apart so it’s better to end it.

      Remember: a relationship ending doesn’t mean things went wrong or that someone messed up. Sometimes life takes people in different directions and it just doesn’t make sense to continue seeing one another.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Hello Ryan,

    Myself and my boyfriend been together for about 6 years, we went through a lot bad experiencies, I am afriad, my cheating, his partying, trust issues, ignorance etc. We finally broke up last year, I’ve move out, althought we came back dating few weeks later. It was all going perfectly well until 3 months later…when I told him that I had yet again met with the person I;ve promised I would never do again…while we were broken up. This slowed down things again…even though I am honest now, i love him a lot and i want to make this work, it is hard…he cannot start trusting me again so easily…does not want to go official yet (boyfriend-girlfriend)and few days ago mentioned “casual”relationship…just to be happy and see whre it goes, because he is unsure…and he doesnt know if he will ever be sure about us…:(

    I really dont know what to do..its been 7 months now that we are on the trial basis…I am afriad he may end this one day…sometimes my patience is ending…

    Want to mention, that i am working hard for this relationship in the past 7 month..and apart from all these insecurities…it is going well…from my end anyway..He is still a bit cold etc…

    what can i do to bring this to the next level?:(

    Thank you

    • Hi Mandy,

      A roller coaster of ups and downs can be tough, but the important thing is you’re working on it and you’re willing to be honest.

      I wish I could tell you what he needs from you in order to make things serious again, but only he can do that. If you’ve stopped seeing this other person and you want to have a serious relationship but he’s labelled it casual dating, you need to have a talk.

      I know it can be intimidating – the thought of hearing an answer you don’t like can make you feel sick to your stomach. This is the kind of thing I was talking about in the communication section of the article; you both need to be on the same page.

      Ask him directly what it is he needs. Maybe it’ll be access anytime to your phone, text messages, and email. Maybe it’ll be time. Reassure him and offer to do whatever you can.

      If you don’t feel good about what he needs, or you feel like repairing the relationship is beyond your level of patience, you have a difficult choice to make.

      I hope things work out well for you. If you want to comment again after you’ve talked it over I’d love to hear how it goes.

  5. I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for almost a year. We are in an exclusive, committed relationship (his words 6 mos ago). We are extremely communicative with each other, he tells me the communication he has with me is the most open and best he’s experienced. We laugh, enjoy our times together, have basically the same beliefs in life and have expressed this openly to each as we’ve talked. We have both come out of long term relationships..him a 25 yr marriage and myself a 17 yr live-in relationship so ‘our time’ is precious to US and we don’t want to give up our own space 100%…yet. he does other things with friends and/or alone as I do as well. He’s met most of my family at some family functions…his family isn’t as structured as far as family get togethers so I’ve only met his parents, a brother and sister-in-law. He says there hasn’t been a specific time that’s come up where I could , get them…and they all don’t live close.
    I can sense that there is very deep caring for me but I feel he’s either holding back out if fear or is afraid to let me know him he feels. I give him his space and time, don’t push him for anymore than he’s ready for or comfortable giving, but we aren’t really moving forward. Neither one of US is in a hurry to finish the race but I sometimes wonder if he’ll ever take this further.
    We are happy together and in the times we’ve been together we’ve had zero arguments and rarely any differences enough to be ‘deal breakers’.
    He is so caring, loving, compassion, funny, loves the Lord(important to both of US) and if I had make a list he’d fill nearly all my ‘wants’ in a relationship.
    Is there anything I can do to move this align…?
    He says he’s happy and is not interested in anyone else…is there with me 100% whenever were together and treats me very well. I’m just feeling like were ‘stuck’…!!!!

    • Hi Marcia,

      Feeling stagnant is never good for a relationship – let’s see if we can figure something out that’ll help you move past this.

      First though, I need an important piece of information about your relationship philosophy:

      How do you define further? What’s the next step forward for you?

  6. I have been casually dating this guy for about 3 months. When we started out we were both casually dating other people as well (we were very open about this). In the last couple months we have both dropped the other potentials but around that same time we had a chat where I said that I didn’t need a commitment yet, but that I wanted him to let me know if he didn’t see a future with me, as I am not willing to be someone he keeps around for convenience.
    He seemed to understand, but also said he still didn’t know what he wanted.
    Since then, we have hung out at least twice a week (we are both extremely busy so that is a lot). This has included a night camping, and me taking care of him when he was sick.
    The thing is, I feel like we are an old married couple (we generally spend our time together hanging out and talking, running errands doing homework and walking his dog). I don’t mind doing all of these things with him, but I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
    Should I be concerned that we haven’t really ever gone on a “real” date? Or should I be happy that he enjoys spending time with me?
    We have only been intimate 3 times in the last few months, and although our “dates” always end in a kiss, I sometimes wonder whether the fact that he doesn’t initiate physical intimacy more often is a bad thing.

    For the most part, I am happy with the way things are, I just don’t want to continue if he is just hanging out with me because he’s flattered by my attention.

    Thoughts?

    • Thanks for sharing your situation Lillian, I definitely had a few thoughts as I was reading through your post.

      My first question: Does this relationship measure up to your standards? Does your relationship make you happy?

      Whenever people ask questions like “How should I feel about this?” it usually indicates they have a feeling they don’t want to have and they’re hoping it’s something unwarranted. My guess is you like this guy – but if you were to be brutally honest, you’re not getting everything you need.

      To answer your question about physical intimacy, whether or not it’s a bad thing depends on whether or not you’re not being intimate as often as you’d like. It sounds like it’s a bad thing to me.

      There are aspects of your relationship that must not sit well with you, and that means things are at the point where some adjustments need to be made. Usually, adjustments mean effort and the amount of effort someone is willing to give depends on their commitment.

      Have a chat with him and explain how you feel, and let me know how it goes!

  7. So I met this guy on a dating site mid November. After exchanging a lot of texts and getting to know each other, he took me out on a very nice date (and was a true gentleman during). We continued to talk and hang out afterward but he lives 50 minutes away, so seeing each other isn’t as convenient as I’d like. I ended I’ll getting frustrated and ended up telling him I couldn’t see him anymore because I felt he could have been making more time for me than what he was. (Which I thought made it difficult to further get to know each other)
    Although very disappointed because I saw a lot of good qualities in him, I stopped communication and started to move on. 10 days later he text me out of the blue telling me he was sorry for acting”weird” and wanted to take me to dinner if I’d allow it. This made me feel like perhaps he had come to his senses?
    At present we are two weeks back into this…I’ve seen him twice…and feel like we are back to what we were doing before. I’m a very honest upfront person and told him I want to see him more. He responded with he would make it happen. I feel like he liked me but is keeping me at arms length. Whenever I try to talk about anything he clams up and the only thing he can muster up to tell me is that he’s just nervous to fall for me. He seems genuine but I’m left feeling frustrated again.
    Is there anyway to get him to communicate with me what he’s feeling? Why would he pull me back in again after I broke it off and when he knew what my expectations are?

    • Feel out if he’s ok with you going on other dates. If yes, he’s just playing. If no, he will let u know and then u say ok well I need to see more or I will accept these other offers (even if u don’t have). Worked like a charm for me 2x: once with my EX when he said it was ok for me to go on a vacation with a guy friend (What?) And once with my current – needless to say he was pretty uncomfotable when I say on saturday afternoon “u would be asking me out if u liked me. Should I go on other dates?” Seen him at minimum every saturday and been exclusive ever since

  8. Hey Ryan :)

    Thank you for this post because I know that I’m going well as I’ve followed what you’ve written here.
    The problem is, I still don’t know whether it’s going to progress into a serious relationship. I know that he’s not seeing anyone else because of his work schedule and he’s a bit of a shy/reserved type.
    We get along really well in person have a lot fun but he’s not very communicative via text, he used to text more but these days it takes a whole day for him to reply.
    he’s very sweet in person, he holds my hand and even when we went to watch a play he was constantly holding/playing with my hand. On the 8th date he kissed me for the first time, and I thought after that it would bring us closer but he’s just his distant self, He asked me last friday to hang out so I asked this week and it happens to be on Valentines! (Yikes when I realised I wanted him to ask me)
    What are your thoughts on our situation? I’m scared to ask as I have only been seeing him for a month, should I give it another 2 months and see how it goes and chill out or time doesn’t matter because closeness isnt measured through that?
    I want to confront him this Valentines and ask why did he kiss me, or why does he hold my hand but then be so distant yet be interested? Is he not that into me?
    What should I do Ryan? I dont wanna keep stringing along if he’s inconsistent, hot and cold…but I know that he do likes me.
    Should I do something or leave it to him? I understand the person that he is and he likes to take his time to analyse things in his head but I’ve just gotten used to be pursued and this is quite a challenge and very different for me.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read :) much love from Melbourne,Australia.

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