What is the Difference Between Dating and Being in a Relationship?

How do you know that you’re focusing your efforts and emotions on the right person? Some people who tried to answer this question have accidentally discovered the sometimes subtle but most of the time obvious differences between just “dating” someone and being “in a relationship” with another person.

While these labels don’t really matter for a few who just want to express love and be loved, knowing how to distinguish the two can make a huge difference especially when it comes to setting expectations and in recognizing limitations.

Here are the differences between dating and being in a relationship that you should know about.

1. Dating means no serious attachment; a relationship is a true commitment.
The level of the relationship you have with another person defines the difference between casual dating and being in an actual, committed relationship. Dating someone allows you to freely spend time with a person but with no promise of a long-lasting and long-term partnership.

2. Dating can be intimately physical; a relationship has deeper emotional intimacy.
The focus on the type and level of intimacy you have with another person also distinguishes dating from being in a relationship. While the former is more physical and less emotional, the latter involves higher intensity and expression of both.

ALSO READ: How Do You Know It’s True Love? 15 Signs It’s the Real Thing

3. Dating can be playful and experimental; a relationship is a serious and sincere decision.
Dating can really be enlightening especially for young people because they get to discover parts of themselves that they never knew existed. On the other hand, being in a relationship requires an initial knowledge of the self in order to make the right decisions and to express a more sincere and genuine love for another person.

4. Dating can be fleeting and short-term; a relationship can last a lifetime.
The longevity of both of these partnerships is also totally different. Casual dating can be fleeting and don’t have the power to last longer compared to a real relationship. Relationships, unlike dating, can even last a lifetime.

5. Dating poses unpredictability; a relationship offers certainty and stability.
Because of dating’s short-term nature, it can be unpredictable. A relationship, on the other hand, offers certainty and stability, making it a good stepping stone to lasting commitments that can be sealed with marriage.

6. Dating is ideal for younger lovers; a relationship is meant for fated soulmates.
Young lovers enjoy dating because of the potential and excitements that it offers. However, once these people find their true soulmates, they’ll realize that dating will not be enough to celebrate their destined love – and this is where being in a relationship can give them a better promise of a future together.

7. Dating can be “open” and random; a relationship values loyalty and exclusivity.
There are different types of dating statuses and one of these is an “open” or even random type of set up. Here, two people can freely see other dates without being tagged as unfaithful. However, in a relationship, it is more exclusive, highlighting the importance of loyalty and fidelity.

8. Dating gives you a range of choices; a relationship leads you to the best direction.
You’ll be presented with a lot of choices and opportunities to suit your preferences when you’re just on a casual dating scenario.  In a relationship, it’s totally different. Once you are committed to one person and you have an exclusive relationship with them, you already know that you’ve made your choice and you’re already following the direction that you think is best for you.

9. Dating teaches you lessons; a relationship nurtures you and lets you grow.
Dating can be life-changing especially because of how people can learn their lessons the hard way. Here, they’ll realize the differences between “love” and “infatuation” or between “love” and “like”.

In a relationship, you’re set to grow because the love that you share with another person is designed to nurture both of you, as a couple, as lovers, and as partners in life.

ALSO READ: 22 Signs of True Love in a Relationship

10. Dating makes you love independence; a relationship makes you value partnerships.
When you’re casually dating someone, you’re free to live your love life according to what you want to do. You have this free choice and independence that you can easily end your bond with another person especially if it’s not fun anymore.

However, in a relationship, you begin to understand the value of partnerships – and how holding on regardless of the challenges and obstacles you face as a couple is important – because you know that they are worth it.

11. Dating introduces you to people; a relationship allows you to know someone deeper.
Dating allows you to meet many people who can potentially change how you see the world. These people, however, might not stay in your life for good so you only get to know them for who they are on the outside.

In a relationship, you get this rare chance of knowing someone deeper. You get to know their pains, their joys, and what defines them as a person.

12. Dating can promise you many things; a relationship is the fulfillment of all of these promises.
Dating, as mentioned before, presents a wide range of potential because it’s a place for self-discovery and even an avenue where you meet the people who may or may not play a big part in your future. Dating someone promises many things: fun, excitement, self-discovery, and sometimes, a life of love and laughter.

A relationship, on the other hand, is actually the fulfillment of all these promises. You know that you are in a good and healthy relationship if you still get to experience the things mentioned earlier – without the worries of goodbyes and sudden endings.

Should you date or should you be in a relationship?

Remember that while dating and being in a relationship are two totally different things, they are both necessary in helping you discover yourself as a person, as a partner, and as a lover. Neither of them is essentially bad because the quality of bond and partnership that you create with another person will always depend on your attitude and your perspective.

The lesson here is, have fun while you’re young but also make sure that you’re saving all the special parts of yourself for that someone who is willing to spend the rest of their life with you.

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