How Many Dates Is Enough Before A Relationship Becomes Exclusive?

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First dates can be nerve-wracking.

Second dates might feel more exciting.

By the third, you are probably feeling a little more comfortable.

But how many dates does it take before you and this new person in your life form an exclusive relationship?

It all comes down to how you define things.

You might first enter the ‘dating’ phase and then you might start ‘seeing’ that person.

Next, you will probably become ‘exclusive’ until you finally say it’s ‘official.’

The lines between these early stages of a relationship are often blurred. But we’ll do our best to explain each one.

How Many Dates Until You’re ‘Dating’ A Person?

Going on a couple of dates with someone is not the same as dating that person.

Those early interactions allow you to get a feel for them and to decide whether there is any point in continuing things further.

By date two or three, you should have a pretty good idea if you like this person enough and if they are a good match on paper.

You will probably trust your instincts and just sense whether you should call it a day or keep on going.

If you make it to date four with someone, it’s safe to say that you are dating them.

How Many Dates Before You Are ‘Seeing’ Someone?

It doesn’t take long to move from dating someone to seeing them.

If you have made it past date four and you’re now on date five or six, and the dates have become longer affairs possibly at one another’s homes, then you’re probably seeing them.

And if things have become physical by this point with sex or other intimate experiences having taken place, this definitely signifies a move to seeing someone rather than dating them.

Time Spent Together Is More Important Than Number Of Dates

Before we explore the realms of exclusive and official relationships, it’s worth taking a breath and discussing some of the more subtle points.

Firstly, the actual number of dates you go on is perhaps less relevant than the total amount of time you have spent together.

For example, if your second date involved a long summer’s day spent relaxing in a park or at the beach, followed by dinner and drinks…

…it’s a bit different to if you simply grab drinks for an hour or two after work.

The sheer amount of conversation you can get through in an entire day can help build bonds far quicker than if it’s spread out over multiple dates.

Yes, there may be lots of messaging back and forth between dates, but that cannot compare to the volume of words exchanged in person.

It just can’t.

More discussion leads to quicker decisions about whether or not you like this person and whether you want to see them again.

So you might decide that you want to ‘date’ someone after just a couple of long meetings.

And you might then get into the mentality of ‘seeing’ this person on date number three.

Time Between Dates Is Also Important

Whilst we have said that messaging is no substitute for talking in person, if the gaps between dates are long, the bond you can build through it is still significant.

So, if you are only able to see each other once a week, regular messages flowing back and forth can create an emotional connection.

So it might take one or two actual dates less to reach the stage where you are seeing someone compared to if those dates are close together.

Time apart also allows you to think more about a person, or even to fantasize about them and what it would be like having them as your girlfriend or boyfriend.

It can build the level of anticipation and make each date that bit more intense. This, once again, might mean fewer physical meetings are required to form a strong bond.

The Difference Between ‘Exclusive’ And ‘Official’

Up until now, you may still be going on dates with other people…

…but eventually, you’ll decide that there is one person you want to make a more serious effort with.

A person who you feel has real potential as a future partner.

At this point, you might discuss with them the idea of becoming exclusive to one another.

Being exclusive means that you don’t date other people and you certainly don’t engage in any sexual or physical acts with others.

For some people, this is the same as making a relationship official.

They see this commitment as enough to say the two of you are in a relationship.

For others, there can be a distinction between being exclusive and being in a relationship.

They might see this stage as a statement of intent that you will explore the more serious aspects of a relationship, but without necessarily becoming a fully fledged couple.

A kind of testing of the waters, if you will.

If you haven’t already, you might meet each other’s friends or spend entire weekends together.

You might even go on little adventures away for a few days.

This is the time where you will probably have the serious conversations that need to be had if a long term future is going to be on the cards.

Because, let’s face it, you may not yet have talked about which of you wants kids and how many or where you want to settle down or your attitudes toward money.

Some people may feel that these things are best covered and worked through before you make that final leap of commitment to a full relationship.

So… how long does it take to reach this stage?

How Many Dates Before You Have The ‘Exclusive’ Talk?

Coming back to what we already said, it’s not always the number of dates that matters, but rather the amount of time you’ve spent together or the amount of communication you’ve had between dates.

Basically, it’s a question of emotional connection rather than an arbitrary number of dates.

You might want to be exclusive after four dates, or you might feel comfortable waiting until date ten before making that switch.

You have to ask yourself how sure you are that there is potential for a long and happy relationship and how you would feel if they were to continue dating other people.

If, after four or five dates, you would feel upset or hurt by them going on a date with someone else, it’s time to have the talk.

On the other hand, if you still like the idea of dating other people and keeping your options open, you can’t expect them to be exclusive to you.

If you want to be exclusive, have the talk. If you’re not too bothered, you can wait a bit longer or until they express their wish to commit in this way.

So, How Many Dates Before You Are In An ‘Official’ Relationship?

Without wishing to sound like a broken record, there is no definitive answer.

Some people will consider themselves to be officially in a relationship after a handful of dates. Others might want to wait until ten or more dates have happened before committing.

The number of dates you wish to wait before forming a proper relationship will be personal to you.

Hopefully, the other person will be on the same wavelength, or it could spell trouble.

If one party wants to be boyfriend and girlfriend (or any combination thereof) and the other isn’t ready, it can cause a real strain on things.

The person who doesn’t feel ready might feel under pressure to commit and this may cause them to pull away to gain a bit of space and perspective.

Or, you might find yourself in what’s known as a ‘situationship‘ where you are kind of together, but not in an official way.

You are exclusive, but not really looking toward the long term as a couple. You’re just taking each day as it comes and enjoying things as they are.

When Can I Call Them My Boyfriend/Girlfriend?

Generally speaking, you’ll want to wait until you have become an official couple where both sides are in agreement as to what the future may hold before you use the terms boyfriend and girlfriend.

Those labels are signs of a committed relationship. They speak of an emotional bond that goes beyond dating or seeing someone and even further than being exclusive to someone.

How Many Dates Before You First Kiss?

Some people are more comfortable kissing on a date than others.

So, it should come as no surprise to learn that different people enjoy their first kiss at different times.

Many people will share some form of kiss on a first date, but it might be more of a peck than a snog.

Though some will feel ready for a full on smooch if the chemistry is right.

Others might wish to wait until date number two or three before they lock lips with someone.

If you are particularly shy or conservative, it might take longer. You should not feel pressured into kissing someone before you are ready.

How Many Dates Before Sex?

As with kissing, sex can occur at various times during a relationship.

There are those who prefer to wait until marriage before sex, and that is perfectly okay.

Others might decide to hold out until they have had the ‘exclusive’ talk before sleeping together.

And some might wait just a couple of dates if the sexual tension is strong.

There is no right or wrong answer. It’s down to what feels right for you.

If the two of you come to a mature, adult decision to go ahead, it’s your choice and no one should judge you for it.

“How Many Dates?” Is Not The Right Question

To summarize, it’s not always worthwhile to ask how many dates you should have before each stage of a relationship.

Nor can you ask how many weeks or months need to pass.

It’s more about your emotions and the connection you forge with another person.

And it’s about personal preference.

So if things are moving too fast for you, try to slow them down.

If the other person really cares for you, they will agree to go at your pace.

As daunting as it can be to discuss a relationship in the early days, it’s important that you can communicate your thoughts, feelings, and wishes clearly.

By staying on the same page as one another, you’ll stand a better chance of starting a relationship off on the right foot.

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About The Author

Steve Phillips-Waller is the founder and editor of A Conscious Rethink. He has written extensively on the topics of life, relationships, and mental health for more than 8 years.