Explain dating, American style, to a limey!

So I'm a limey from across the pond. I think our dating culture is a bit different to dating Stateside.

For instance, on this site I hear people talking about defined 'stages' to a relationship in the US - 'dating', 'going steady', 'being exclusive', 'being a bf/gf'. I don't think I totally understand what the progression is - we don't talk about relationships in stages like this over here so much. Can someone explain it to me?


Most Helpful Guy

  • The progress of a relationship is basically just about how serious it is. There is no real definition because everyone has their own interpretation of what they are.

    Dating, going steady, and being exclusive is being boyfriend and girlfriend in my opinion. They are just different ways of saying the same thing.

    Fuck buddy - excuses the term, is just someone you keep around to sleep with. Maybe they are also a friend but there are limited emotional ties and the boundaries of the relationship and generally dependant on what’s agreed upon between the two individuals. Maybe your "exclusive, meaning you’re limited to sleeping with only then, but it could also be an open relationship, meaning you can sleep with other people.

    Boyfriend/Girlfriend - are generally exclusive, meaning you cannot sleep with anyone, nor have any emotional ties with the opposite sex outside of the relationship. Agen though, everyone has there own rules and regulations to abide. Some could also use the term, "going steady" to define there relationship. To be girlfriend/boyfriend, you generally need to go on a date. Which is why "dating" is just another way of defining your relationship with another person.

    MY opinion, not yours.



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What Guys Said 4

  • Can someone explain the British system? This is a serious question.

    I can't think of a relationship in anything but stages.

    I believe there may be stages in the British spectrum of a relationship; they're just not as well defined. For example, holding hands comes before sex. Is that true in GB?


    • I'm speaking from a position of ignorance here, but as far as I can tell from comments here and books, you're right that our stages aren't as clearly demarcated or discussed. We don't have expressions like 'going steady' or 'exclusive' - and there seems to be less emphasis on determining the 'stage' of the relationship with one's partner. It's also not considered unusual to meet someone in a bar, sleep with them, then get to know them afterwards. :)

  • I don't really think the two societies are much different in respect to their courtship traits.

    We may refer to things as stages, but we're just attempting to classify the logical progression of the relationship so other people can understand where we're at.

    First base, second base, third... just more terminology to help others quickly understand the dynamics and placement of where we're at in our relationship without going into extreme detail.

  • This helps me a lot to understand North American vocabularyparticularisms : link

    (I have to refer to it regularly-I'm no native English speaker)

    This is the same kind but less elaborated: link

  • flirt, date, marriage, screw, pregnant, death

    thats basically american boyfriend girlfriend stuff

    • See, here it's more like flirt, screw, date... :)

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    • Huh, interesting. That's quite a traditional concept of gender roles - guy wants sex, girl wants a relationship. I know quite a few girls who have (and enjoy) one night stands with guys - and they are the ones 'taking off' in the morning.

      I'm sure there are many different attitudes towards dating in the US though - so many people, so many perspectives!

What Girls Said 2

  • usual the normal way is you meet a guy go on a couple of dates have sex, if you like them after 2 months then you become boyfriend and girlfriend. then in two years you usally get engaged and then get married. you can have sex then date and become boyfriend/girlfriend but that doesn't happen quite often. if your not interested in a relationship that is going to lead to marriage then its fine to have sex on the first date and one night stands.

  • In other countries (europe or latinamerica) independentely of how it starts (if there's sex in the beginnig or not) if you decide to keep seeing the person, you begin a relationship and see how it goes. it can last or not,but since the beginning its an exclusive boyfriend/girfriend situation.

    [when I say if sex included or not, I mean, if you're over 25 y.o, go out a guy you like, you are not gonna hold hands. And in other countries it doesn't mean that the guy got what he wanted and can take off. It just means that you're not a teenager.] I don't know if guys over 25-30 have that teenage atitude of I got what I wanted. Is that really all you want guys? (and I'm just trying to understand the american culture)

    But in the states, it is so confusing for us, foreigners, because they date several people for months and don't even try a little harder to see if there's something with a person they could like if they focus/explore a little more.

    why date several people during those couple months dating before becomming BF/GF, why not see if it works.

    So, now I am dating 3 guys for a couple months by now, because none of them is a serious/potential relationship. (and I'm not trying to get a guy to get married, I recently ended a 10 year relationship), I just want a boyfriend, maybe fall in love for a few month, not dates without emotions.