You’ve been on a few dates with a potential new partner.
As far as you’re concerned, it’s going well — great, even!
But what about them?
After how many dates are you dating exclusively?
Are they feeling your vibe, or is it more casual on their end?
Do they see you as a potential mate or a friend with benefits?
Is it serious after five dates or 15?
How long do you date before becoming a boyfriend or girlfriend?
These things can get tricky.
So, to help you wade through the confusion, today we’re talking about the 10-date rule and the 11 milestones most people tick off before confirming that they’re in a relationship that’s going somewhere and not wading in a casual “situationship.”
- What Is the 10-Date Rule?
- How Many Dates Before Relationship Status? 11 Essential Milestones To Reach
- How to Make Your Relationship Official
What Is the 10-Date Rule?
Many people subscribe to the 10-date rule — aka, if you’ve gone on ten dates, then you’re probably in a relationship.
If we apply the 10-date rule, a once-a-week dating schedule puts the relationship marker at three months, whereas a twice-a-week situation has you there in about one and a half months.
But one caveat – it’s not a hard and fast rule. People’s lifestyles, religious beliefs, and past experiences will play a significant role in shaping their approach and attitude toward dating, relationships, and, ultimately, marriage.
So, the spectrum for “how many dates before making it official” is broad.
How Many Dates Before Relationship Status? 11 Essential Milestones To Reach
We’ve talked about the 10-date rule. But what matters more are the 11 milestones, which can happen in five dates or more than 15.
Again, it all depends on work/life schedules and comfort levels.
1. Initial Interest in Dating
Before anything, there has to be mutual interest in dating. You both don’t need to be super into each other immediately, but there must be an amiable willingness on each side. Sometimes there’s an adorable meet-cute; other times, friends orchestrate blind dates.
2. Online Check
We’re not suggesting you get a full background check on your date; you don’t need to file Freedom of Information Act requests. But it never hurts to do a quick online search to make sure they’re not an infamous serial killer or have a spouse they neglected to mention.
Remember, though, not to believe everything you read on the Internet. For example, many “background check” websites are extortion rackets that frame valid credit card disputes as major legal actions.
Moreover, people change. So if you come across something unflattering about your date from high school, and they’re now in their 30s, take it with a grain of salt.
Plus — and unfortunately — people love to gossip. So while general checks are wise, don’t get caught in the rumor quicksand.
3. First Date
You’ve done some light reconnaissance, and now it’s time for the first date.
At this point, you should be putting all expectations to the side. It’s ok to be excited, but don’t go in thinking that this person will definitely check all your boxes.
Keep the conversation loose. Don’t talk about kids or marriage. Ride the breaks. Do you really need to invite them to your sister’s wedding that’s happening in three days?
The choice is yours whether to kiss on the first date or not. But if you had a good time, casually make that clear. Closing the night with something along the lines of “I hope we can do this again sometime” is perfect.
4. First Kiss
Some people don’t believe in kissing till they’re standing at the altar. But for most folks, kissing typically happens fairly early in the dating process.
Some people lock lips on the first date, and others may wait until the 10th. Whatever feels comfortable for you is the best route.
If someone, however, tries to force you to move faster than you want, they’re probably not the ideal partner for you.
Also, don’t worry if the first kiss isn’t magical. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get into each other’s groove.
5. Mutual Interest in Each Other
For a relationship to move forward, both parties must show interest. So make sure the other person genuinely wants to see where things go. If you’re the only one sending texts or following up, that’s typically not a great sign.
Sure, someone may wait three or four days to get in touch after a date. That’s normal. But if you don’t hear from them for several days or weeks, it’s probably best to move on.
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6. Discuss Sexual History
Intimacy is an integral part of many romantic relationships, and if you’re contemplating sleeping with someone, it’s wise to wrap your head around their past sexual history.
Demanding a list of every intimate partner someone has had is almost always overkill. However, you should understand if the other person believes in open relationships or monogamy.
Asking about getting tested for STDs is also fair. After all, you want to protect yourself!
7. First Sexual Experience
The general rule of thumb for consenting adults who want to move forward with an intimate relationship is to engage in safe sex on the third date. But again, it’s a sliding scale.
Some folks wait until they’re married, and others may hold off until they know they’re in a committed relationship.
8. See Each Other’s Homes
The next dating milestone is usually seeing each other’s homes.
It could be a major red flag if someone refuses to let you see where they live. Are they hiding something? Worse yet, are they married and lying to you?
Sometimes, people don’t want to bring a new partner home because they live with their elderly parents or have another valid reason to hold off on this step. That’s OK, too. Just make sure they’re telling the truth.
Sleeping over is the next major milestone. Part of building a relationship is becoming comfortable in each other’s spaces. Sleepovers provide an opportunity to determine if you have similar habits or ones that complement your potential partner.
At this stage, it’s unwise to pretend you’re someone you’re not. If you’re messy, let it be known. If you have sleep apnea, now is the time to reveal that. After all, keeping secrets is no way to start a partnership.
10. Meet Each Other’s Friends (and Family)
At this point, everything is going well. You’re enjoying each other’s company and share a mutual attraction. Now it’s time to see how you mesh with your respective friend groups.
This can be the point where things can either take off or go south. After all, friends are essential.
However, if the first friend meeting doesn’t go as planned, but the two of you are still very interested in each other, give it a couple more tries. Sometimes, the stars simply don’t align during the first introduction.
Meeting the parents and other family memebers is a different story. Some couples wait a year or more before that happens. So if your date-mate doesn’t want to rush that part, it doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship is doomed.
11. Have the Talk
You’ve made it through the first ten dating milestones. Now it’s time for the 11th: the talk!
Does the other person want to move forward with a commitment? Do they want to stop seeing other people? Now is the time to put your cards on the table.
How to Make Your Relationship Official
You’ve been on many dates, and things are going well. But neither one of you has said anything about “making it official.” So let’s explore a few things you can say or do that will turn the situationship into a relationship.
- Just Ask: Honesty is frequently the best policy, so why not just ask? It may be scary, but if things are going well, you’ll likely get the answer you want. If not, maybe it’s time to move on.
- Are You Dating Other People: The easiest way to determine if someone you’re dating is only seeing you is to ask if they’re dating other people. This way, you don’t have to reveal anything but still get an understanding of how they view the relationship.
- Change Your Social Media Status: A more passive way to make things official is to change your relationship status on social media. If the person you’re dating does the same, a quick, “so, we’re together now, right?” usually does the trick.
- Remove Your Profile: Keeping your dating profiles active signals you’re still playing the field. Inactivating them lets your love interest know you’ve taken yourself off the market. If they respond in kind, you can rest assured things are probably progressing. Still, having a short chat to confirm is a good idea.
Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that dating is supposed to be fun! Sure, people in their 30s may be racing against a biological clock, which often speeds up the dating process.
But otherwise, moving slower almost always works better than sprinting to a perceived finish line.
The early stages of a relationship are filled with butterflies, magic, and anticipation. Enjoy the ride! It’s a fun time!