When Do You Become "Boyfriend And Girlfriend" With The Person You Are Dating?

Updated March 28, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Dating can be exciting - especially the first few dates. There is the thrill of a positive first date, the text messages that begin to trickle in, and the long talks on the phone each night before bed. During the dating phase, you may be seeing several different people at once and assessing which ones you connect with the most. If someone special comes along, you may want to forgo dating other people in favor of spending more time with this person. In this situation, you may start asking yourself, "Are we boyfriend and girlfriend?” Becoming a couple can be a blurry line; there's no hard and fast rule. Some people might say it's when you start having sex. Others may say it's when you start dating exclusively. Still, other people may argue it's when you sit down and have a define the relationship (DTR) talk. In this article, we’ll be discussing some factors you may want to consider before making things official with the person you’re dating. 

Wondering when to become official with the person you're dating?

Consider your readiness

Before you enter into a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, it can be crucial to take some time and think about what you’re getting yourself into. Are you ready for a commitment to one person? Do you want this person to become a long-term thing? Are you ready to compromise aspects of your single life? Questions like these can help you determine if you are ready for a more serious relationship rather than casual dating. The person you’re dating may have a different definition of a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Therefore, it can be important to assess your feelings about the relationship and then discuss them with the other person. 

How do you know when you and the other person are ready to become boyfriend and girlfriend? While there are variables you may want to consider, there aren't any set rules to tell you exactly when you are or should be ready. One of the most effective ways to figure out if you are ready for something more is through open and honest communication. Having a conversation about what you want out of the relationship can help you determine if you are ready to become an official couple.

There are a few points and topics you may want to bring up in the conversation. These things can affect what shape the relationship takes long-term. If you don't talk about some specific things during your DTR talk, you may be ill-prepared for a long-term relationship. You may not be able to cover everything and every contingency, but it can still be vital to go over a few essential things and see whether you and the other person are on the same page. 

Think about what you want and need

Talking about what you want from the relationship can be a productive way to see if the other person is ready to make things official. Likewise, discussing the expectations of the relationship can be important. Talk about what it is that you want from the relationship and ask your partner to open up about their desires and needs as well. Try to be as transparent as possible and vulnerable about how you feel. You being open with them may prompt them to be more honest with you. 

What you and your partner want out of the relationship may be different, and that is ok. For example, you may find that one of you wants something long-term while the other was only looking for a casual fling. In this case, it may not make sense to enter into an official relationship, as it could just lead to hurt feelings. If you want different but not entirely opposing things, you may be able to compromise and find common ground that meets both of your needs. At this point, you can either come closer together to make things work or part ways and look for a relationship that more closely aligns with each of your wishes. 

Talk about the future

As you talk about what you want out of the relationship, the topic of the future may come up. It's natural and healthy to be thinking of a possible future with this person with whom you want to be boyfriend or girlfriend with. After all, you are thinking about taking the relationship from a casual dating one to a more serious relationship. This can come with much more pressure and commitment than simply dating someone.

Even if you don't know about committing yourself to this person forever, you are allowed to take it one step at a time. While talking about the future can be important, it can still be helpful to go at a pace you’re both comfortable with. Be honest about what you want out of the future and the pace you want to go to get there.

Have a conversation

A define-the-relationship conversation can help bring clarity to an otherwise confusing situation. Although you might know what needs to be discussed, it may still be intimidating to initiate a discussion with the other person. Fear of rejection can be a real struggle, or you may have anxiety about how the other person is going to respond. Here are some tips to help you prepare for and have the conversation.

Know what to say

One of the most important things to having any serious conversation is knowing what you want to say. It's ok to practice what you want to say beforehand or even write down some notes to keep you on track. Preparedness may help the conversation go more smoothly. Be sure to bring up the topics that are important to you and think about how you want to introduce each one.

Give it some thought

Spontaneity can be a positive thing in relationships; however, these conversations deserve some thought. You may not want to launch into a serious discussion without having weighed all the things you want to talk about. Consider whether you are even ready for this conversation or if you may be rushing ahead for some reason. Try to go into the conversation calm and prepared rather than when you’re feeling frustrated. 

Try to be positive

Saying "We need to talk" can be ominous and cause anxiety in the other person. They may begin bracing for the worst. Instead of being somber about the conversation, consider saying something like, "I'd like to talk about us and where we are going," or "Would it be ok if we set up a date to talk about something that's been on my mind?" Either of these questions can help keep the other person at ease when going into the conversation.

Don't rush things

Having these kinds of conversations when neither of you needs to rush off to do something can be important. Having a short time constraint often doesn’t lend itself to having a productive conversation. Consider having it over dinner and drinks, or at one of your homes. Whatever you do, ensure you have time to have an in-depth conversation and choose a location that feels comfortable for each of you.

If things go well, you may come out of the conversation knowing what you both want out of the future. This may or may not include becoming boyfriend and girlfriend. Regardless of the outcome of the conversation, you can both hopefully have more clarity about where each of you are at and where you’re headed. 

Transitioning to boyfriend and girlfriend

Becoming boyfriend and girlfriend can be a big step, but this is just the beginning. Now comes the work of living out the title of boyfriend and girlfriend. Although you may have discussed expectations, the practical side of the relationship may turn out to be challenging to navigate. You may find that communication between the two of you breaks down over time or that you begin to grow in different directions. Being in a relationship comes with a unique set of challenges you’ll have to tackle both individually and as a pair. 

Wondering when to become official with the person you're dating?

Online counseling with Regain

Knowing how and when to define the relationship can be tricky. On the one hand, you may be worried about moving too quickly, but on the other hand, you might wonder if your connection will ever develop into something more. You don’t have to work through these questions and concerns on your own. By connecting with a licensed online therapist through Regain, you can get advice from someone who is trained to address intimacy-related issues. Without ever having to leave your home, you can connect with your therapist through a variety of means and at a time that works for you. Whether you’d like to meet with the therapist individually or with your partner, you can begin to take steps to ensure your relationship is headed in a direction you both feel comfortable with. 

The efficacy of online counseling

Online counseling can be a viable resource for couples experiencing problems in their relationship. One study assessed the efficacy of a web-based couples therapy intervention for improving relationship satisfaction and decreasing relationship distress. Researchers found that participants of this program were able to make “concrete changes in their relationship” and understand one another on a deeper level. Further, partners were able to come together to identify the problem they were facing and take steps to address it. 


Part of being in a relationship is respecting the thoughts, feelings, and perspective of the other person. If you find that one or both of you have shifting ideas about where the relationship is headed, it may be time to sit down and talk about what each of you wants. Sometimes, your desires for the relationship may align, while other times you may have conflicting expectations or needs. Having a conversation about becoming boyfriend and girlfriend can be difficult, but also necessary. If you’re not sure how to approach the topic, receiving advice and guidance from a therapist could be a helpful next step to take. Regain offers counseling for individuals and couples who are feeling stuck in their personal lives or in their relationships. You deserve clarity, and so does the person you’re with.  

For Additional Help & Support With Your ConcernsThis website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.