Are You In A Dating Relationship, Or Is It Just Casual?

Updated March 16, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

It isn't always easy to gauge the seriousness level of a relationship. If you have been seeing someone for a little while, then you might be wondering whether you have crossed the line from casual dating into a committed relationship. Sometimes this happens without someone coming out and explicitly stating it, but it's going to be important to know for sure. You want to know how you should approach your current relationship, and you're also going to want to go over expectations. 

Casual relationships can be a lot of fun, but you might be more interested in having an exclusive relationship with the person you see if you have developed feelings. If so, congratulations! Ahead, we’ll discuss ways to tell if your relationship is progressing before you feel confident enough to initiate a “define the relationship” conversation. 

Imagining a future together is a sign you want a relationship

How often do you see each other?

Do you see your dating partner multiple times per week? Or is it more of a few times per month type of relationship? If you are spending a lot of time together, that is a sign that you're dating rather than just being engaged in a casual relationship. You might have been casual with this person at first, but as you started becoming more bonded to them, the time you spent together started to increase. Knowing this, it's easy to see how people could naturally start to "know" that it has turned into a full-blown relationship.

The problem with this is that it isn't going to be clear unless you come out and say it. Often, people are nervous about discussing the matter due to not wanting to have their feelings hurt if someone else doesn't feel as strongly. Regardless, you can understand how spending more time together signifies that your relationship is becoming more important. If you feel a strong urge to be around this person, then you probably have more than just casual feelings for them.

Are you seeing other people?

Casual relationships usually are not exclusive ones. If you are still seeing other people in addition to your primary partner, then it's likely that you're in a casual relationship. Of course, there are many exceptions. Some like to use an open relationship structure rather than adhere to traditional monogamous practices. If you feel that you thrive in these relationships, you could be in a "dating" relationship, even if it is a bit different from that to which a monogamous person might be accustomed.

Whether or not you're really dating or if you're just casually seeing each other has more to do with commitment. For most people in America, commitment is going to involve exclusivity. This means that you will only see one person, and you will be expected to be faithful to them. If you are dating and potentially sleeping with others, then you probably aren't dating this person unless you have specifically discussed the idea of an open relationship.

Admittedly, it can be somewhat complicated to determine your relationship status when you haven't had a real discussion on the matter. This can lead to misunderstandings, and sometimes one person will think they're supposed to be loyal while another does not. It's important to talk about these things so that nobody feels like they're being hurt or betrayed. If you care about your partner, whether they're just a casual partner or if they're something more, then you need to figure things out.

Ask yourself whether you would feel jealous to know that your dating partner is seeing another person. If this idea bothers you more than a little bit, then there is a chance that you want to date this person exclusively rather than just keep the relationship in its casual form. It's going to be time to talk about the matter further soon, and you need to be honest about your feelings. You shouldn't feel that you have to keep things casual if that isn't what you want.

Do you see yourself having a future together?

If you see yourself having a future together with your partner, this indicates that you want the relationship to become serious. You might find yourself thinking about your partner and where you will both be in five years. If your ideal future sees you together with this individual and working toward common goals, you want this relationship to have legs. Coming to terms with your feelings is the first step toward figuring out your true relationship status.

Many people are afraid of commitment due to having been hurt in a past relationship. You might be one of these people, and taking things slow probably felt like a good idea. You have enjoyed having a casual relationship with your partner, and things might have evolved. You could be spending more time together than usual, and you might start to feel the familiar sensation of love wrapping itself around you. This can indeed be intimidating when you're worried about how things will turn out, but it's best to open yourself up to the possibilities so that you don't miss out on something special.

When your relationship with your partner is just something casual, it's going to be less likely for you to want to factor them into your plans. You might not be sure if you will still be dating them six months down the line if you aren't taking the relationship all that seriously. It depends on your perspective and your feelings on the issue. It's possible to love someone while still only being in a casual relationship, too, so your desires play a huge role. What your partner wants and needs out of a relationship is equally important, as well.

Having an important conversation

When you want to be together with your partner, it's crucial to have a real conversation with them about everything. Even if you feel like you're probably in a dating relationship, it will be best to confirm that with your partner. They might not feel the same way, and they might not have the same expectations that you do. It could hurt to hear that they aren't thinking of your relationship as something serious when you are, but it's best to face the truth.

Chances are, you're going to hear what you want to hear. It's likely that your partner is also feeling drawn toward you and that he or she is taking it more seriously as the relationship continues to evolve. You can't make assumptions based on how you're feeling. You need to consider your partner and talk about expectations and what you want out of this relationship. It's an important conversation to have, and you should probably make time for it sooner rather than later.

Let your partner know that you feel the relationship has deepened over time. Truthfully, your partner will probably be happy to hear you say those words. You both might be nervous about labeling the relationship, and you probably don't want to lose each other. Just understand that everything will be fine and that you can successfully transition into a more serious relationship structure. Things won't be that much different, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you're committed to one another and that you share something special.

Moving forward together

Imagining a future together is a sign you want a relationship

If you have determined that you are dating and want to build something serious together, you will need to work on strengthening your bond. As it stands, your relationship is at the beginning of becoming something more substantial. Most relationships start as something casual, and they develop into something stronger over time. You have feelings for your partner, and you know that they feel the same way. Now you have to nurture that bond so that you can cultivate a successful and satisfying relationship.

Be sure to figure out what you each want so that you can get on the same page. Not everyone wants the same things out of a committed relationship. Things will likely change somewhat now that you're placing more expectations and significance on your relationship with your partner. This shouldn't feel like it is putting pressure on you, though. If you both want this and you want to be together, then you'll be able to make things work.

Online couples counseling is always an option

If your budding relationship could use a bit of help to get things to the next level, then you might want to take the time to speak to an online couples counselor. These professionals work with couples who require assistance. You might be trying to figure out how to take your relationship more seriously, but strengthening your bond might not be easy without experts guiding you. Using these dedicated online counselors is an excellent idea if you want to make your relationship work.

The online counselors at Regain can help you work through issues, and they can also guide you toward a happier relationship. They have been able to help a large number of people through tough times. Counselors like this are capable of helping you any time that you are in need. You won't need to leave the house, and the therapy sessions are discreet. 

Many people have been able to take their relationship to the next level after engaging in online couples’ therapy. According to a recent meta-analysis of online interventions designed to improve various aspects of relationship health, online therapy is effective in improving relationship commitment, communication, and confidence, as well as reducing relationship conflict, aggression, and distressing mental health symptoms. 


There is no shame in asking for help with understanding your relationship's seriousness. Like many situations in life, it can be helpful to have the perspective of a detached, neutral observer. The online therapists at Regain are licensed and experienced in assisting couples and individuals with a range of goals. When you’re ready to take your relationship to the next level, you can reach out to a Regain counselor to start mapping out a plan.

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