How exactly do you go from dating someone casually to having a serious relationship with them?
Is it some secret, LSD fuelled desert ritual?
Do you just… ask them?
Or maybe even *shudder* express your feelings?
Casual to Serious: Why Do You Commit?
Most of us have experienced a serious relationship by accident, usually when we really like the person we’re dating and it just naturally develops into something more. Other times you really like someone and it doesn’t work out, and you’ve probably wondered if there was anything you could’ve done differently.
To make yourself a better partner, think about your past relationships. What qualities made you want to get serious with your date? What things turned you off?
Being self-aware of how others perceive you is a huge advantage in dating and relationships. If you’re struggling with this, here’s a short list to help you go from a casual date to a serious mate (so lame, I know).
My Top 3 Casual Dating Tips
1) Be Independent
Some “experts” say you should act unavailable. It’s true that being overly available can seem desperate or unattractive, but the last thing you want to do is play dating games.
If you’re suffering from no-life syndrome, step back and ask yourself why you aren’t having fun on your own. Sure, acting unavailable might work at the casual dating stage, but what happens after that? How long before insecurities, neediness, and jealousy creep in?
Instead of acting unavailable, be independent. Hang out with your friends a couple times a week. Go to the gym. Play the sport you like or pursue one of your interests. Learn an instrument, a language, or take dancing lessons. Value yourself and your own time.
The main thing here is neediness is a killer. Insecure people push for serious relationships for the security it brings, and people can sense that.
2) Set Boundaries
Why would someone commit to you if they’re getting everything they want without the commitment?
If you’re struggling to find people willing to move beyond casual dating, there’s a good chance you’re giving too much. Why bend over backwards to make someone you barely know happy?
Let them earn it.
Before you open up completely, open a little bit and see if the person shows up for you. Are they receptive and warm? Or judgmental?
Before you start buying gifts for them and imagining your wedding, give the person an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment. Why dive head over heels without some experiences that show you this person is a caring, compassionate partner worth fantasizing about?
Some women might be wondering if having sex too soon is scaring guys away. Holding off to avoid judgement hints at a double standard – how can two people have sex at the same time but only one of them does it too soon?
Any guy who loses interest in you for having casual sex “too soon” is not worth having around.
3) This Secret Psychology Brain Hack
Here’s a way to discover how you might be sabotaging yourself without knowing it.
When you go on a date, what do you think the purpose is?
Whatever your answer is, that’s the main cause of your behaviour. If your answer is something like “to find the one”, you’re gonna come across as needy. If it’s “to get to know someone”, you’ll probably seem interview-ish.
The best way to look at a date is a chance to have fun. This keeps things… well, fun. People like being around fun, low-pressure people with no expectations.
As things progress, that’s when you get to know each other. If you emotionally vomit on someone and spill your whole life story during the first three dates, where’s the fun in that?
It’s like telling someone what’s in the present they’re about to unwrap. Isn’t the funnest part the unwrapping? Focus on having fun, enjoy the mystery, and going from casual to serious will happen naturally.
Signs You’re Graduating From Dating to a Serious Relationship
If all goes well, you won’t have to do “the talk” of whether or not you’re a serious couple. Watch for these milestones, and you’ll know if the casual dating phase is almost over.
The final milestone is when you know it’s official – whether you say it’s a serious relationship or not.
Unscheduled Time Together
When you start hanging out together without making plans in advance, you know things are getting serious.
Meeting each other’s social group is a big step. If you make it past the gauntlet of scrutiny from their friends, things are well on their way.
Sleepovers Without Sex
As long as you aren’t fighting, this is actually a good sign.
You Leave Some Stuff at Their House
If he’s leaving a pair of boxers at your place, it’s a sign. Likewise, if she’s got some clothes or 8,412 bottles of hair product in your shower, you’re in.
The Big One: Your First Fight
If you have a fight and you don’t break up, you’re basically saying this is something worth working on.
Troubleshooting: Dating for Months, but Not Serious?
Dating Tips and Q&A with Yours Truly
I wrote the first version of this article in 2012, and since then I’ve gotten hundreds of emails and comments asking about what to do in certain situations. Here are the most common questions and my answers to each.
If you have a question about moving from casual dating to a serious relationship that I didn’t answer, leave a comment below the article and I’ll get back to you within a couple days.
Q: I’ve been dating this person for months, and when I ask if we’re a serious couple or not, the subject gets changed or I get ignored altogether.
A: There are two explanations for this. One, they’re interested but not good at communicating or are feeling pressured and don’t like it. Two, they don’t want to get serious but want the other benefits of dating.
Let them know what you’re looking for and pull back a bit. If you drift apart, you know they were never going to commit and you saved yourself time, trouble, and heart ache.
Q: My date says it’s just casual, but acts like it’s serious? Texting a lot, we hook up often, they want to meet my friends. What’s the deal?
A: This scenario usually happens when someone wants to get serious but has a fear of commitment. They get around it by tricking themselves into thinking it’s not actually serious unless it’s labelled that way.
You have a choice to make – can you handle someone whose actions and words don’t align? Is it more important to you to have this person, or a person who’s ready and willing to commit?
Q: No one I date wants to get serious!! There’s always an excuse, why can’t I meet the right people?
A: You aren’t a helpless victim of the dating universe, so this isn’t really a question – you keep meeting the wrong people because you keep choosing to date similar people.
What feels right to you isn’t working. You need to try some wrong. Stop meeting people wherever you’re meeting them now. Date people who you don’t usually go for, and stop dating “your type”.