"Dating" =/= "Being in a relationship"

This myTake attempts to understand how the interpretation of "Dating" has been distorted and why it is so often equated with "Being in a relationship".

When I say I'm "dating" someone, it doesn't mean we have made it official yet - at least not to me. It means that we are in the process of discovering who we are, our and likes and dislikes and generally whether there is a future worth living together. It's the "fun" stage and not necessarily the time to call each other "boyfriend" and "girlfriend".

"Being in a relationship", again for me, is officiality. This is the point where you've accepted a sexual and emotional partner into your life and are, supposedly, loyal to them.

I suppose when I sometimes say "I'm currently dating 2 women", a lot of people will read it as "I'm currently in a relationship with 2 (unsuspecting) women" and will literally gut me because of it. But in fact, I am going on dates with 2 women and, with the help of these dates, I am trying to figure out who I'd want to share my life with.

Yes, I don't tell them I am. Which, I'm afraid, is not deceiving.

So "Dating" =/= "Being in a relationship".


Join the discussion



What Girls Said 10

  • Didn't realize people were still mixing the two. I see no issue with someone dating more then one person in the pursuit of a relationship as long as once they make a final decision they let the other go immediately. Personally I wouldn't feel comfortable dividing my attention like that.

  • The definitions of the two are clear...
    They are different things.

    One thing that always puzzled me is why people say they were dating someone if they were just hanging out with them and the other person never thought anything romantic about them. That shouldn't be called a date - it should be called a friendly hang out. o. O

    • Maybe they are still going by the high school definition?

    • @SilenRose Kind of shouldn't be a definition in any walk of life.

    • True but I just remember in middle and high school when someone said "Oh Sam and Elena are dating now." It would automatically mean they were boyfriend and girlfriend.

  • I have been 'dating' a guy for close to 10 years who doesn't like to be called my boyfriend. Time to start 'dating' other people!

    • You have every right to start "dating" other people @Poppykate
      He doesn't deserve the title of being your boyfriend since he's treating you like this!!! You deserve better!!! Go and find yourself a guy who appreciates you more!!! Time to throw you current boyfriend to the curb!!!

  • I completely agree with this take! Dating and being in a relationship are two separate things.

    The way to figure out where you stand is to talk to you partner. Have the exclusivity talk if that's what you feel you need to do. ALWAYS clarify! It will save some tears in the long run or at least give you the right to leave a relationship that is not serving our needs :)

  • Dating is like tasting fine wine. A relationship is ordering the wine that suits your tastes.

    • Perfect analogy! :) thank you!

  • They are definitely two different things. I know when I said I dated about 10 guys, they assumed that meant I slept with and was in a relationship with all of them. I got some down votes for that, for being "slutty". That is false; only 3 I was in a relationship with and only slept with one. Dating and relationships are not the same thing.

    Once you say "this is my boyfriend/girlfriend" and are in a relationship, it's established. Dating more than one is fine for most people, until they enter relationship status.

  • I am seeing the words dating and relationship be misused a lot on this Web site and its starting to bug the shit out of me. Also, having a girlfriend does not necessarily mean you will live together. I know people who are in relationships who do not live together. And why do men expect sex on dates from women when they know that they are not exclusive?

  • I don't like mixing things... so for me, dating would mean I'd want him as a boyfriend. anything else, I could just do as a friend or as friends with benefits. but romance and dating are only for my bfs, and I'd tell him that.

  • THANK YOU. I'm glad someone else gets this!

    A "date", also =/= romantic. There are work dates, lunch dates, and even "an old friend of the opposite sex that I haven't seen in years who I'm taking to dinner on a strictly platonic basis" dates.

    Going on a "date" simply means that you, and one other person, made plans to go out alone together, and that it was pre-planned for a specific date and time. "Save the date" would be an accurate synonym.

    The idea is to get closer, or "intimate", which =/= romantic, it simply means "personal". It's hard to get to know someone with other people around, because no one really acts exactly the same around every single person.

  • yeah I don't know i say away from the phrase dating bc i worry the guy will think i mean relationship. so i just try to be literal about what im referring to in order to avoid misunderstandings:)

    • I don't even know what "dating" means...

      It sounds like some purgatory zone that is neither something nor nothing...

      Are you fucking? Are you gonna have babies?

      Cut the bullshit and get to the point...

    • I agree. I decided against using the phrase before i even figured it out. Also it feels weird saying it. like im going to the soda pop stand wearing my bfs varsity and my hair is 6 inches high... can't get into it.

      honestly id rather someone just make a list of exactly what they want, hand it to me and say so 'what do you think -you in?'

      bc honestly all these different title intentionally or not just obscure the issue. of which i can never be sure bc no one just comes out and delivers the list. and every title has 200different meanings depending upon time age location whether season positioning of the stars who won the superbowl what cel;bratty just got arrested and what box cereal sells the quickest.

      id rather just hear the content than rely upon titles.

      its basically like :half the time is spent figuring out what people mean without resorting to asking=dating.

      often the simplest way to do things is to actually communicate rather than relying on tacit understanding --

    • which when you barely know someone, not. simple. at. all.

      Not sure when proper communication got slated as '
      drama'. Upside down world.

What Guys Said 14

  • I agree dating someone and being in a relationship with someone, are two completely different things.

    Dating is the fun no strings get to know someone, half the problem with dating today. Is that, people are not taking the time to get to know each other, it is we have had fun lets fuck now.

    If there is one thing life has shown me since I became sexually active, it is that once the sex starts the real getting to know someone and communication stops.

    Just because you have fun with someone and seem to get along, does not mean you have something that is going to last. Take the sex out of dating, and most couples would realize in a short time if they are not meant to be in a relationship.

  • Dating is like friends with benefits... relationship= game over

  • I hate when women play games like that. If we're dating and she's having a good time I assume she won't run off with some other dude without telling me. It's a bitchy thing to do.
    Hail Satan!!

  • Ya, some math symbols are hard to find. Here...
    Unequal ≠
    Infinite ∞
    Powers A1234567890
    Degrees °
    Heh heh. Anyways, I totally agree.

    • A to the power of F-A-I-L

    • Show All
    • Serves you right for being pretentious ;)

    • I wasn't trying to be... Just helpful...

  • For some, dating is a one person at a time thing. That was me for decades, until I met someone that didn't share that perspective and I tried dating more than one person at a time. I don't think there should be a problem with either, but I do think you have to be forthcoming about it. So i disagree with the following:

    "Yes, I don't tell them I am. Which, I'm afraid, is not deceiving."

    Some people wrongly assume you are exclusive after a few dates. If you knowingly allow that notion to perpetuate, that's deception in my book. if you at least share your perspective that a relationship isn't exclusive until you mutually agree, after you're a few a few dates in (doesn't mean you list who you are dating or anything), that's probably just fine

  • You are taking away their free will by not disclosing that you are dating multiple people. The only reason you would withhold such information is because you're afraid of a negative response, and therefore, hardly emotional evolved beyond a 4 year old.

  • This is a distinction that a lot of people do tend to muddle. I agree its an important one to point out.

  • It has more to do with people not understanding what you are doing.
    Going out with somebody I don't know is an alien concept to me, since all of my girlfriends were somebody I was in frequent contact with and eventually developed mutual interest for, so there was no need for this "dating" phase.

    I think it has to do with lots of people now meeting up remotely thanks to social sites and what not, with "dates" often being the first time you meet people in person.

  • I understand what you are saying, but other people have chosen a different way to communicate the same idea.

    In the linked article below, the author describes what you are engaged in as "casual dating". To her, the term "dating" applies in the context of a relationship.

    So, two different people on the Internet have different ideas as to the meaning of a word. Big surprise. Isn't the English language fun?


  • Not telling someone that you're dating that you're also dating someone else is deceiving if they are someone that, not only dates one person at a time but also doesn't want the person they are dating to be dating anyone else during the process of dating and has made that clear. I'm one of those people, however, I make it clear from the get-go that if I'm going to be dating someone it's going to be exclusive. And if I make it clear to a girl that I'm dating her and only her and expect the same thing and then she starts dating other guys while leaving me to believe I'm the only guy she's talking too... That is deceiving. I will say that if I don't tell her I expect it to be exclusive and I find out that she's dating more than just myself, then we have two different ideas on how people should go about dating. I can't exactly say that she deceived me... as I should've been upfront about what I expect, but I also think that she should be upfront as well. I think it's important to lay the groundwork out from the very beginning. I understand that some people are okay with dating multiple number of people at once and expect the people they are dating to do the same, but those people should also understand that there are those that want the dating process to be exclusive.

    Although, I don't refer to it as dating. To you "dating" =/= "being in a relationship". To me, it's the step in-between what you consider dating and what I consider in a relationship. Now, in the first paragraph I was using dating based on how you define the word. What you consider "dating" I consider "talking too". So, if I said I'm talking to so and so, then I am, in essence, saying the same thing you are saying when you tell someone that you're dating someone. As long as the person you're talking to understands how you define the word, then it doesn't really matter.

    For me, there is talking to someone.. which is what you consider dating, there is dating someone, which to me, is being in a relationship, but it's not serious, and then there is being in a relationship where it is serious.

  • I agree mostly. I've dated girls but never had a relationship. I wouldn't agree that it's the fun part, but I guess that's because I haven't had much luck so far.

    • Or maybe the dates you've had weren't fun?

    • No I enjoyed the dates, they went reasonably well (or at least seemed to from my perspective), the girls just lost interest sometime after that.

      It's not fun for me because it's so frustrating.

  • Agree, I've dated many girls but still have yet to be in a relationship. Some people see it as nothing happened unless you were in a relationship or had sex with them which is stupid because I've felt closer to ones I have not had sex with as opposed to ones I have had sex with.

    My thing is, I'll date girls but usually the ones I like aren't into me, in the long term, and the ones who wanna keep seeing me I don't like back. Some have suggested to give the ones I don't like a chance and honestly it does nothing for me and I think it's kinda shitty and a waste of time because it gives the girl false hope and you keep getting unwanted attention from them.

  • Virtually every phrase can be ambiguous.

    For many people dating = boyfriend/girlfriend. The phrase 'in a relationship' didn't use to exist. There was just 'dating' then 'engaged' or 'living together' or 'married'.

    I think that the phrase 'in a relationship' has taken off since friends with benefits grew, those people were not 'in a relationship' so then it was a big step for them to move from being friends with benefits to being 'in a relationship'.

    I see people on here who aren't dating and are worried about not moving too fast, as though 'being in a relationship' is a big legal and financial entangling of your lives that you couldn't disentangle with a phone call or, if feeling callous, a text.

    • Yes, this is what I was thinking. When you're in a relationship with someone, you say I'm dating X person, not I'm 'in a relationship' with X, and yes, it's that serious. Sounds so condescending.

      Also, before you probably wouldn't date half the town or the first person who showed up at your doorstep just because you can. And when you went on a real date, it was probably clear you were at least interested in that person and not just to enjoy yourself or get some more experience while, at the same time, telling them 'you know what, honey? Actually I'm dating more 3 other people right now, and I may decide stopping seeing you at any given time. Nothing personal, let's just have fun in that meantime, okay?'.

  • I wish people would understand this so when I claim I can't get a date despite trying, they would stop saying, "It'll happen when it happens." Yes, a RELATIONSHIP will if you lead a healthy dating life, but dates? That's something I need to figure out how to actively acquire.