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.

  33 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

    • Linz is right about the other dates bit. It’s great that you’re being patient with his reserved, casual approach, but if your needs aren’t being met there’s not much point in waiting around.

      You’ve given him a chance, so let him know that if he’s too scared to fall for you that’s OK – but it’s not going to work. You’re looking for someone who is secure enough emotionally to risk going for a serious relationship, or at least someone who’s willing to put in more of an effort.

      No idea why he would do that, and in dating motives are one thing you will rarely (if ever) know for sure. All that matters is where you’re at now and if he’s doing enough to be worth the mental and emotional energy you’re putting into him.

  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.

    • Yikes! Hot and cold is never fun. He wants to keep it casual, and it sounds like you’re cool with that, but at the same time you want to know if a serious relationship is on the horizon.

      Eight dates in a month is quite a bit, and he’s clearly into you. If you feel like something isn’t clear, it’s always a good idea to ask – but here’s a tip: don’t do it in a confrontational way.

      Sometimes we get frustrated and this build up is released when we “confront” the person, causing the interaction to come across as angry and negative. Even if he is into you, this can be a turn off.

      Bring it up with the least amount of pressure or negativity as possible. Something like “Hey.. you know we’ve been dating for a while, and I like you, but I feel like we’re not on the same page. Do you see this going any further than casual dating?

      Good luck!

  9. I met this girl and we are been dating 3 months now, she have a daughter and just get back to school to finish her studies in high school to be able to reach her ambition and have a better life. At the moment, we label our dating stage as “Dating with no commitment” just be happy, have fun and see where it goes. We merely going out for adventures together with her daughter and eat outside sometimes with her daughter as well or just the two of us. Sometimes we even planned our trips in few months like this coming summer and fall. She is excited when the trip is near to the actual date.

    As per her explanation she wanted to commit with someone that she feels 100% sure not just a random going into a commitment either because of too much pressure from guys and jealousy. She mentioned that maybe in six months she would know what she really wants or feel. I said that is okay with me because I don’t want to put pressure on her and be able to give her some time to think things through and I support her decisions that whoever she will go for next serious relationship she would feel 100% sure. But sometimes I feel like she is playing a game because we do fun activities and/or she is seeing someone else other than me. I asked her about this and she said that she is not dating anyone.

    I’m happy being around her but when she is not around I feel jealousy inside of me is it because I’m lacking trust. I felt jealousy or sad when her mood changes during the day and sometimes for few days. I really want this dating turn to be a serious relationship. What should I do to make things go well to help in making her decision that I’m willing to support and love her all the way.

    Not sure if am I in the right track just go with the flow and continue having fun with her and daughter that would help in making her decision later on. Or am I just wasting my time making all this effort not sure she will have a commitment with me.? :(( Is there anything I can do to improve more?

    Right now, I feel like hanging in the air. Not sure if I have assurance with her or not.

    • I think you’re on the right track. You said to her that you’re cool with waiting to see how things turn out, and it seems like that’s exactly what’s going on.

      It seems like she responded positively by reassuring you that she isn’t dating anyone else, so I’d say wait and see how things go.

      If you feel like things are solid and you’d like to ask her for a more long term commitment, go for it and see what she has to say. Let me know how it goes!

  10. Hey Ryan,
    I really needed to read this article, i am a 20 year old girl in university and met my boyfriend 5 months ago. He is very insecure and he brings up the fact that Piscies (him) and gemini (me) aren’t really compatible. He says he doesn’t want to get serious as we’re having fun right now and are young. But for me, I see him as someone I want to be with for a long time. He might graduate and go to england next year and he says he doesn’t believe in long distance relationships. I DON’T WANT HIM TO GO AWAY!! it haunts me day and night!! He doesn’t have time for me so we meet once a month. But my problem…I’M CRAZY ABOUT HIM. I do stuff for him that i wouldn’t imagine doing for anyone else. I would leave everything on a day he’s free and I’m not and still go to see him. He’s busy studying for law school and lives very far from me as well. I asked him where this is going and he says that at this point…its just that we can’t expect to be with each other forever because we’re young, why is this one sided, i would do anything to be with him and he wouldn’t? i can’t really understand this, can you please help me out? I want to be together with him and that’s why even though i can’t handle how we don’t see each other for a month, i still hang in there and try my best to be a good and understanding gf. I asked him that why would you be together with someone you don’t see yourself in the future with ? and he said, we’re together in a relationship because i like you and you like me, and he wants to think about now and whatever happens in the future will happen. I don’t like that :( please help me out because i can’t seem to think about anything but him and this isn’t good for my studies because i have high hopes!! Please and thank you so much!!

    • Alright, I gotta be honest – I felt a bit frustrated reading this post. At first I wanted to rage out and write a big post venting about all the things I don’t like about this situation, but it’s not about me, it’s about you. So let’s start:

      ONE EXCEPTION to the ranting thing I just said – astrology. Astrology is clearly and demonstrably bullshit. Anyone who brings up star signs as a reason why two people are incompatible deserves a kick in the nuts.

      On to the rest of it:

      This dude is straight up telling you he does not want to be with you long term. More worrying are his actions, which speak volumes more than his words – he doesn’t care enough to make time for you.

      There will be people in your life who you are crazy about, but who don’t give half as many shits about you as you give about them. This is one of those times.

      And the thing that really gets me is you seem like a sweet girl, and it’s not like this guy is playing you or filling your head with false promises about how things will be better one day.

      You don’t have the problem of trying to figure out if this guy is legitimately going to change and dedicate himself to you. He’s being completely honest and telling you flat out he’s not interested in a long term relationship.

      When a guy says he doesn’t want to commit because he’s young, it means he wants to get experience dating different people and learning about what he likes and what he doesn’t. It doesn’t mean you’re not good enough or anything like that, just that settling young means you miss out on a lot.

      I know you don’t like what this guy is saying, but at this point you’re killing yourself mentally and emotionally for no good reason. You have every indication that he isn’t willing or interested in what you’re interested in.

      Why are you draining yourself for someone who isn’t willing to reciprocate? Go out with your girlfriends, have fun, go to the gym, focus on classes, and meet lots of good looking guys that will actually care enough to put some effort in. Get over this guy.

      Hope that helps.

      -Ryan

  11. Hi Ryan,
    First let me say thank you. I never comment on blogs, but I thought you did a great job and I love your honesty yet gentleness in responding to us women. I’m 25 and barely began dating guys in the last two years as it was never my focus. I know I AM CLUELESS as to how this dating thing works- your article was very helpful based on my most recent dating experience.
    I finally met a guy who’s been in contact via text and sometimes over the phone for the last 9 months (mostly initiated by him). Our first date, we had sex- THIS IS ATYPICAL for me, but who will believe me this day in age? He invited me to check out his new condo he just purchased and mentioned me borrowing a movie we chatted about during our date. I told him no. I barely know him. Then after his persistence I gave in and went to his house. Before I went in, I said don’t try anything that’s not what I’m here for. I stayed in the living room and he sat right next to me and pulled me close( I am very attracted to him). Lastly he went into the room and said oh you gotta see this. Long story short an hour later of watching TV- we did it. Mind you when he began to get physical I said no sorry I cant. He “jokingly” called me a prude and a priest.He said why put a time stamp on the moment. I felt pressured that he would label me as a hold out and never talk to me again so I gave in. (I KNOW, no Bueno) I even pulled the “i’m on my period” line and he said it’s fine… ( a first for us both) SORRY if this is too much. Hopefully its humorous;)
    Ok 2nd encounter, we were intimate again. Right after, he invites me to take a shower with him. THIS is when we started to really COMMUNICATE. He mentioned that it freaked him out that I had sex with him on the first date. He shared as a man how it makes him think I do this all the time. I felt like he just dumped a load of “you digust me” as if I was the only active participant. Don’t get me wrong, he’s pretty straightforward, wasn’t rude nor had a demeaning tone. Simply stating his thoughts. So I reminded him how many times I said no and that he is just as responsible. He acknowledged and took that responsibility. Afterward we talked about our past relationships and what we are currently ready for. Abbreviated version- he wants a casual relationship with me right now .If I don’t want to be intimate and just get to know each other, then I can’t expect him to be exclusive sexually as he’s a man and has needs. I love his honesty because most men I’ve dated would not just come out and say it. Now the question is, do you think we really have a chance if we do continue casually dating?
    He’s a surgeon btw so I rarely get time with him, but he’s extremely affectionate when we do and I normally have my physical guards up high, but I’m really interested in him so those boundaries I’ve removed prob too soon.
    I’ve ended a lot of casual relationships because I demanded a title and it probably could’ve worked out.. not sure if I should just ride this one out, no pun intended..

    • Thanks for your compliment! It’s incredibly motivating hearing that you and other readers enjoy my work.

      Haha yes it was humourous, I laughed a few times reading it.

      THANK YOU for calling him out on his bullshit! A guy who sleeps with a girl on the first date and says it “gives him doubts” is a HUGE hypocrite! You’re absolutely correct that it takes two, and HE was the one pushing for it.

      I’m glad to hear you guys had a solid, honest conversation in the shower… guess you could say you came clean (triple pun!?)

      Of course you have a chance, there’s always a chance. I’d say by the sounds of it it’s going pretty well, just make sure you’re being honest with yourself.

      There’s nothing wrong with wanting an official “title”, and to not just be dating casually forever.

      Be aware of your expectations though; if you’re only dating him casually because you want a serious relationship later, you may feel resentful or disappointed if it doesn’t work out.

      It’s a good idea to check on his expectations (but not too soon – he’ll feel pressured and want to run).

      If two or three months down the road there’s no change in what you guys do together and how much you’ve shared, maybe ask where he’s at. If you’re gradually becoming less casual and acting more like you’re in a serious relationship (telling personal details, hanging out more, family/friend intros etc.) you’re on the right track.

      Hope that helps, good luck.

      -Ryan

  12. Hi Ryan i read your responses and thought you might be able to give me some advice

    Eight years ago i got friendly with someone via work we got along fantastically, had great chemistry & banter so we had a “fling”” for a month or so when he suddenly up and left for Ireland. I was disappointed but was ok as i wasn’t ready for anything serious.

    Six weeks ago we reconnected via facebook & met up almost instantly – he was still the same lovely, bubbly, open & honest person. He was acting blown away and we were talking and texting 24/7. He told me he’s going through stuff at the moment inc being a bit depressed (just started counselling) not sleeping etc although generally he’s hyper & full of energy. We’ve gone on about 5 dates & agreed to not jump in physically with each other. For me I wanted to make sure he was more genuine & interested before commiting. When we are together we are extremely affectionate eg holding hands, kissing, touching etc & he’s been incredibly sweet. He travels each weekend from Thur/Fri til Mon for his job and works til late hence the sleeping problems.

    We made plans to meet & go to the cinema last week for this week & then he suddenly became distant eg not texting or texting me a question & not replying to my response. After about 5 days of barely any contact i asked him what’s up as something is different & could we talk & he said ok then nothing but an odd text asking me if i was ok. On Sunday i text if he was ok to talk but he said he was tired & wasn’t in the mood. I asked about the cinema as i’d booked the tickets & he said yeah we can still go out followed by smilies & xxx

    Last night we met up for coffee before the film. He did look drawn & tired. There was no holding hands, no kisses just easy going banter. Afterwards we got to our cars & had a very very long hug which i felt was a goodbye hug and then he got in his car. I paid for the whole night & didn’t even get a thank you. I sat in my car for a few minutes & stared into space and he got back out of his car and asked me to talk. He said he’d had a great night but was very confused. He said he wasn’t focussing on anyone and anything not just me at the minute due to his insomnia. He still really liked me he wasn’t putting anything definitive on “us” just needed a bit of time to get his head right. He apologised for his behaviour and was genuinely sorry. He ended the night saying we’d talk again in a few days maybe a week. When i got home he exchanged a few messages again being lovely & humorous.

    I understand him being confused and unsure but why agree to meet up & just act like friends when we’d been so into each other & extremely tactile before?? I’m going to leave him to think things through but unsure whether to respond to his texts & act like nothings wrong? Any advice would be greately appreciated :)

    • Hi Oli,

      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story. Yes, I absolutely do have some advice for you.

      If you were my client, the question I would ask you is “Would you still want to pursue a relationship with him if this behaviour was going to continue, or at least continue sporadically?”

      My personal tolerance for hot and cold is almost non-existent. If a girl is all over me then acts distant the next time we meet, fine. If she isn’t willing to talk about why, that’s what bothers me.

      In my personal opinion, not being able to talk about what’s going on between you and someone you’re interested is a sign of either low maturity or a high level of psychological distress. Both of those things make relationships very difficult.

      Behaviour is caused by a combination of “innate personality” with “external environment”. That is, the way he’s acting could be a temporary thing caused by environmental factors, or a more permanent thing caused by the way his personality interacts with the environment.

      You can either have the ball in your court, bail now and look for someone more stable. Or keep trying while you figure him out a bit more, and depending on how things go, react accordingly.

      Good luck!

      -Ryan

  13. Many thanks for the reply…it pretty much confirmed my own thinking. It’s been over 2 weeks without even a text or phone call….i’m sad but realise if he couldn’t talk about what’s really going then i’m lucky it’s happened now rather than a few months down the line when i’m more emotionally invested. I’m sure at some point he’ll talk, we’re still online friends on social media accounts but i’m moving on & agreed to a few dates in the next week

    • Sorry to hear things didn’t work out the way you had hoped, dating can really suck sometimes.

      The important thing is you have a clear and healthy perspective – this is a problem that was likely to surface at some point and it’s waaaay easier now than later. On top of that, you have other people interested in you :)

      Happy to hear you’re moving on and that you’re maintaining a positive outlook. Best of luck to you Oli!

  14. Hi Ryan,

    I’ve been dating a girl now since July. We’ve done lots together, been for lots of meals, went for a drive somewhere for a day, I’ve stayed over at hers a few times. She’s coming over to stay at mine this weekend before we go out for the day.

    I went to a house party her parents were hosting last weekend so I got to meet all of her family and friends, even befriended most of them on facebook.

    To me, I feel we really have something special and I am pretty sure I have fallen in love (soppy I know). We share lots of intimate moments and we see each other most days (mostly because we work at the same place). I try and see her at least once a week though.

    I finally asked her yesterday whether she wanted to try a serious relationship and move things forward from. Her response was that she’s not looking for anything serious at the moment.

    This was quite hard to listen to but I tried not to look too disappointed as I don’t want to leave things awkward (especially when I’m at her house for the weekend). I know that she has a lot going on at the moment as her mum is on her death bed with dementia, so I’m trying to work out how to proceed. Is it that maybe the time is wrong and she has too much on her mind or would she act differently if she was actually interested.

    I’m finding it hard to decide whether I should let go, as it’s hard work emotionally, or play it out and see if anything ever does happen?

    Some advice would be much appreciated! Thanks

    • Hi Jamie, thanks for your comment!

      Hmmm. It’s surprising how many misunderstandings are due to how we define certain words and concepts, in a way language is itself our reality. I suspect this is why most philosophers begin their essays by defining key terms. Ahem, anyway…

      It seems like you’re well on the way to being in a serious relationship. If you’re attending her parents parties and meeting her immediate (and possibly extended?) family, you’re already in pretty deep. Especially if you’re in the loop about her intimate family issues, like her mom nearing the end (sorry to hear that, by the way).

      My money is on one of two things: either the timing is wrong, or her definition of serious is different than yours. If knowing intimate facts about her family, being part of her family gatherings, and spending time at one another’s houses ISN’T getting serious about your relationship, then what is?

      There’s a concept in social psychology called propinquity. Not only is it the dumbest sounding word in my vocabulary, it’s also relevant to your situation. Basically it means that we become fonder of those we spend the most time around, and since everything seems to be going right for you so far (assuming you do more than play Scrabble when you spend the night at hers/yours) all you need to do is more of what you’re doing.

      If she likes you and it’s just a timing issue, things will evolve naturally as you spend more time dating and hanging out. The loss of a parent is a heavy time man, do your best to be there for her and see how things go.

      PS – Careful. Too much compassion without sexual tension can lead to the friend zone. You’re a romantic interest, not a counsellor. Watch the balance of the dynamic between you and don’t be afraid to pull back a bit if you start becoming a shoulder to cry on instead of a man she can count on.

      Good luck!

  15. Hi Ryan,

    I find your article very interesting. Things work very differently here in France. Casual dating is something that just doesn’t exist here. We like to make things clear from the very beginning. It doesn’t mean we don’t have the same period at first where we just take time to know the person better and see if it can work long term, but we never question the fact that we are in a serious, exclusive relationship, starting with the first date. And if we just want something like casual sex, we say it before starting anything else. In this case it can of course still turn to something serious later, but in 98% of the case, it doesn’t. We don’t really have any “in between”. Maybe that’s part of the reason of the reputation of the French abroad, now that I think about it! :)

    But, actually, I stumbled upon your article in the first place because I’m trying to understand this all “casual dating” thing since I met this american girl last summer. We immediately had this amazing connection, seeing each other every week, texting all day, etc. We were not dating at first, so the other day I asked her out, making very clear that I liked her a lot. This first date went very well, we kissed, everything was great. For my French logic, we were then “officially” in a relationship.

    But a few days later, I saw her at a party of some friends we have in common and she acted with me exactly as if I was just a friend. It confused me a lot so I just asked her if there was any problem, and that’s when she said that there wasn’t, that we were just somewhere between friends and a serious relationship. That’s when she used the expression “casually dating”. Since I’m not sure what it means, I asked her to explain and she said that’s how American usually start a relationship. It didn’t help me a lot and I could see talking about it was making her uncomfortable, as if I was putting a lot of pressure on her (even if it wasn’t honestly my intention).

    So I read a few articles on the subject, including yours, to understand better this cultural difference, and if I get the general picture now, I still don’t understand the details of what does “casually dating” someone actually means. You know, some stupid questions about what I can or cannot do in this situation, like “can I kiss her whenever I want”, “can we see other people at the same time” (not that I want to, but I wouldn’t like her to do it, so…), etc.

    Of course, I know it would be best to ask her all that directly, but I really like her a lot and I really want to give this thing we have (whatever it is!) a serious chance of working, so I don’t want to scare her in any ways with all my questions. But at the same time, it’s so different from what I’m used to that it’s really confusing me.

    I was hoping that, as a North American yourself, you would have some good advice on how I’m supposed to play it. Especially since we have another date planned in a few days.

    Anyway, you have a great blog and I’m really glad I found it!
    Cheers!

    PS: since English is not my first language, sorry if I made some mistakes along the way!

    • First off – your English is excellent… beaucoup mieux que mon français.

      Secondly, dating in France sounds excellent.

      Your confusion makes perfect sense, and I agree with you. Casual dating is the dumbest way to go about things ever, because it’s the one thing we all define differently. That’s why I stress communication so much, and it sounds like you tried to do that.

      Basically, it sounds like this:

      She’s one of the people who are more independent. Casual dating for her is likely similar to testing a car before buying it from the dealership. You take it to work, short drives here and there, but you don’t go on a cross-country road trip.

      Casual dating is my most hated phase of relationships. You can kiss but not too much, be honest but not too much, call but not too often – it’s crazy man.

      I’m like you and by the sounds of it, much of France. The first night I met my now fiance (6 years together) I told her straight up I would be with her for a long time. She thought I was a bit strange, to say the least.

      But like I talked about in the article, when you are truly yourself (in my case, totally honest and up front) people who aren’t like you will be turned off. If someone’s a good match you’ll know it because you’re putting yourself out there.

      Keep going and see how it turns out, good job trying to communicate with her. I’m a first generation North American (father is Serbian, mom English) so I feel your pain.

      Good luck!

  16. Would never normally consider commenting on an article but this has really got me thinking and I’m really hoping for some advice. A few months ago I started seeing a guy and we hit it off really well, to the extent that within the first week he was being included in invitations to me by my friends after meeting them the weekend of my birthday. As well as this, by the time we got to date 4 he told me he wasn’t seeing anyone else, that he really liked me and that he had no intention of being with anyone else. I likewise agreed that i would only be interested in seeing him so we seemed to reach a mutual agreement. the issue is now that i dont feel like i know where i stand with him – he’s told me again since that we’re exclusive but there’s never been any talk of boyfriend/girlfriend labels. he says he’s happy with how things are now, but i feel like i’m in no mans land in terms of what it is we are exactly…. any advice what i should do?

    • Hi Eliza,

      Thanks for your comment!

      First things first – what are you looking for? If it’s an exclusive relationship with someone who cares for you and enriches your life, I’d say you’re doing just fine.

      If it’s the above plus being girlfriend/boyfriend, wait for a good moment (when you’re alone and the mood is good) and mention that you’d like to introduce him to people as your boyfriend. Ask if he’s OK with that and see how it goes.

      Let me know, and good luck :)

  17. Hi, I met this guy 3 months ago on the internet and we started exchanging messages online, texting then 3 weeks later we met for a date. It went well and we did sleep together. Which we both wanted. Then from there he rang me daily text me everyday and it was great…about 6 weeks in i felt a little scared purely as im nearing the end of my divorce and i knew i really liked him but wanted to take things slow to make sure it would work. I told him this and he took it well and we both decided we wanted to carry on seeing each other. From there he slowly became more distant. Which i understamd but kept assuring me that he was fine, he carried on talking about the future, if we become serious etc etc and this actually helped me become more stable in my feelings, i realised i was falling for him…..i was finally happy. Fast forward to last week. He hardly contacted me, then when we met this week for a drink we had a lovely night. I had become pregnant by accident and miscarried so we were both abit surprised/shocked as i have a coil fit and it was just one of those things….but after the drink he went home and text me the day after saying he didnt think there was a spark and that he couldnt see a relationship with me. I was upset and i admit got abit teary and moody which i think is understandable considering im miscarrying. Then he said he thinks im amazing, beautiful and great he loves my company but doesnt feel we’ll work out long term. This upset me as HE spent the last 3 months mentioning the future, not me…….i feel used. He still says we can sleep together which absolutely broke my heart. I feel cheap, degraded and like im only good enough for one thing. His family have told me to keep seeing him as they think hes just scared after his wife left him 3 yrs ago….but i know if hes saying it he means it surely?!! I told him i would start dating again and hes fine with it, which shows me he doesnt really care. Yet he keeps saying im special to him and wants to remain friends/with or without benfits…..im so confused as i feel he led me on iver 3 months and i really like him :-( I know the best thing to do is to no contact and date again and move on. But i felt a connection, and i cant get my head round WHY he did this whilr i was miscarrying?!? That is so low……..am i chasing a no go here?

    • Hey Stephanie,

      Thanks for sharing your story. It seems like as soon as you openly expressed interest, he ran the other way. I wish I could tell you for sure why this happened, but without talking to him I can’t.

      BUT you can – so I encourage you to talk to him! Especially if his family said you should keep seeing him.

      If it turns out there’s a reason for his sudden change in behaviour, make it clear that you’ll look past it – but only if he’s willing to give his all. I say this for two reasons:

      1) He appears to appreciate a challenge. Setting boundaries shows you don’t put up with shit and he’ll have to work to keep you.
      2) It puts you both on the same page, something I mentioned in the article as being very important.

      Good luck!

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