In partnership with Relate
Dating is rarely easy, right? Whether you’re online dating or ‘real-life’ dating – it can be a struggle. You constantly feel like you’re either meeting the wrong people or being let down by the right ones (probably not right to begin with).
BUT… wait… what’s that?! You’ve now met someone who you’re getting on with and it’s been more than a few weeks? Is this getting serious?
Issue: You’re now so used to the feeling of not being in a committed relationship that even getting slightly closer to a ‘relationship’ is making you question A LOT.
Let’s breakdown some of this
Dee Holmes, a Counsellor at leading relationships charity Relate, said:
“When you’re getting into a new relationship, the feeling of not knowing what the future holds can be exciting and at the same time unnerving. Perhaps you really like the person but aren’t sure if they’re willing to commit to an exclusive relationship. You might want to know where you stand but fear of rejection is holding you back. The good news is the person is likely to be giving off some signs about where they are at. To be sure you haven’t got the wrong end of the stick, we’d also suggest talking openly and honestly about how you’re feeling. It may feel scary, but that way you know where you stand and if the feelings aren’t reciprocated you can move on and look at other options. You don’t have to launch into a relationship summit on the first date – but don’t be afraid to talk about it as your feelings develop.”
What are the emotional differences between casual dating and getting into a committed relationship?
If you are going into a committed relationship, the first concern that everyone has is the t-word. After all how can you get anywhere without trust?
This is someone you’re looking to invest more and more of your time with, so make sure you’re clear about what you want from them and vice versa. Here is a quick checklist to help you consider how much you trust the person before you’re considering committing further:
- Have they deleted their dating apps?: Hanging on to dating apps could be a sign that they’re not as invested in the relationship as you are. It’s worth a mention if you’re concerned.
- Are they still messaging people they have been seeing?: If they are still messaging other people who they’ve been previously seeing, this could be a red flag (unless you’ve discussed having a more open relationship or if they’re informing them of their change in relationship status).
- Are they happy calling you their boyfriend/girlfriend/partner?: This one isn’t entirely essential given a lot of people’s discomfort with the use of possessive titles. However, someone feeling more comfortable with using the titles is a good sign that someone is committed to a relationship.
How you physically behave around someone is likely to change as you step towards a committed relationship:
- More physical contact: Physical contact between partners usually increases as a relationship deepens. This can be a test for people not used to being so physically close with another person, but for many, it is a natural part of getting to know and understand someone better.
- Public Displays of Affection (PDA): What usually follows an increase in physical contact is also an increase in PDA. As you go from a state of getting more physically comfortable with one another person it seems to naturally come out more in public. Heads up, preferably keep this off the tube at rush hour, cheers 😉.
Something that often develops through trust and comfort with the person you’re with is a deeper emotional investment. You might no longer feel it’s necessary to hold stuff back. That said, if you’ve not been with someone seriously for a while then this might seem pretty daunting. You may need to work on removing that emotional filter you’ve been building up to make opening ‘Pandora’s Box’ less intimidating.
Here’re three examples of the type of discussions that may start occurring:
- Talks about families: NO, don’t worry, not talks about starting a family… just about existing family members. Some people are more sensitive about discussing family matters than others but, given how much you guys have been hanging out, it wouldn’t be surprising if you start sharing stories of sibling fall-outs or parents getting on your nerves etc.
- Bringing up exes: It’s always the elephant in the room that no one ever knows how and when to bring up. There might be times in your early dating period where exes come up in passing, but a few months in, it’s a much easier topic to bring up. At this point, it’s more of a given that bringing up an ex won’t derail anything between the two of you.
- Discussions about personal struggles/mental health issues: Mental health issues are very common and people are generally getting better at talking about them. If someone you are dating has a mental health issue, they’re likely to need a certain level of support and understanding. Talking about these issues openly shows that your bond is deepening.
Now, the real question is how capable is the person you’re seeing of handling these changes? If they start to freak out then perhaps you need to think a bit more about how well suited you are. Take Relate’s test to find out how compatible you are with someone.
If you have any further enquiries or need any advice or help with your relationships check out Relate’s website and sign up to their monthly newsletter.