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The Switch: from dating to a relationship

Ambrose Diaz
Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How do you know when you're crossing the line from dating to relationship? These sure signs indicate that your once-casual dating is moving into more serious relationship territory.

Sometimes casual dating becomes more serious very quickly... how do you gauge the change? When does the switch from dating to a relationship occur? This is a very grey area; so keep your eyes peeled for the signs that you have become involved in a relationship.

Here are some (definitely not all) of the indicators that you have walked past that imaginary line and entered into relationship territory.

You Are Spending A Holiday With His/Her Parents
Didn't have anything special to do on Easter? Did you casually accept an invitation to go out of town and visit the parents? Did you think this was just another date? Open your eyes... if you're actually looking for signs that you might be in a relationship, then this one is surely the most flashing fluorescent Vegas neon you could ever come across.
Absolutely any time you meet the parents (beyond bumping into them on the street) you are being put on display as a prospective mate. If that's what you want, go for it. If you just want to date, stay at home and don't be tempted by the magic words: "beach-front cottage".

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Signing On The Dotted Line (The Exclusivity Clause)
This one is a no-brainer, but somehow, a lot of people tend to miss it. When the person you're dating mentions that the two of you should be dating each other 'exclusively', what they really mean is 'this is the beginning of a relationship'. It doesn't mean that they are exhausted from going out with others. Congratulations... you've been chosen as the pick of the litter.

The early-warning sign for the triggering of the exclusivity clause comes a few weeks prior to the suggestion. It usually sounds like this: "Are you dating other people?" You will probably say "No" whether it's true or not. You can bet good money that the exclusivity clause will casually come up in conversation soon, if not right away, so be ready for it.

For some reason, 'dating exclusively' is often misunderstood as completely different things. Unfortunately, the split in understanding usually straddles the gender lines. Men think of it as a less complicated way of dating. Women tend to think of it as the dawning of a serious relationship.

Your Own Reality Show
A slightly more subtle sign that you've moved beyond dating into a relationship is also a misunderstood thing. Some will call it a lack of romance while others will call it a comfort-zone. Whichever way you see it, it looks like this: You order a pizza and settle in for a night watching TV.

Wow, remember the first few dates when you would rack your brains trying to think of something cool and impressive to do. Now you're watching re-runs of M*A*S*H together while wearing the same shirt you slept in last night. My friend, you are in a relationship.

Don't think that this is necessarily a bad thing. If it were the only thing you ever did, then it might be a cause for concern, but being able to just hang out and not have an activity to do can be a good thing. Relaxing together can be a great tool with which to forge a strong connection. But don't be fooled — this is something that people who are in a relationship do.

Fight Night
A really strong sign that you are in a relationship is the ability to have a fight (or as my parents called it, "a loud discussion") with your partner and not feel like it is the end of the line. In a way, this relates back to having a comfort zone with the other person and being able to express yourself without fear.

Couples who are comfortable with each other can fight in a way that is actually constructive to their relationship. They can build upon what they learn during their fight, as long, of course, as it doesn't devolve into spiteful name-calling.

Being able to express yourself freely is a sign that you have reached a level of understanding with the other person in the sense that you do not have to put on a facade about who you are and how you feel. And of course, don't forget how much fun making up can be.

All in all, the signs that you have moved beyond dating into a relationship can vary from the very vague to the very clear. Whether you want to be in a relationship or not is up to you, just remember to communicate well and be able to see the signs along the way.

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