Home / Relationships /

How Many Dates Before a Relationship?

So you’ve just started seeing someone and have gone on a couple of dates but don’t know what to make of it. “Are we exclusive now?” “Are we still keeping the options open?” This is what my friends were asking me about the other day. They said, “Ryan, how many dates before a ‘relationship’? Like, how many dates SHOULD there be before we say we’re together?

We all know the thrill of getting into a new relationship. In most cases, you’ve had your eye on the person for a while now, and you’re elated when they also reciprocate the same type of interest in you. At this stage in any relationship, it’s normal to be spending a lot of time together. Perhaps you are going out on more dates or staying in and just chatting. Whatever your preferred form of hanging out is, one thing is for sure- you both are seeing more of each other.

But is that reasons enough to call it a relationship?

Are there a few more milestones to pass and things to do before you commit to a relationship?

The answers to these questions are pretty subjective. From person to person, the answers will vary, and there is not just one right answer to it.

The truth is, no one really knows what rules to follow when it comes to dating. In fact, something that works for one couple might be the worst idea ever for another.

How many dates before a relationship? The reality is that there is no 'golden rule,' it will be up to the two of you to make the decision!
How many dates before a relationship? The reality is that there is no ‘golden rule,’ it will be up to the two of you to make the decision!

How Many Dates Should I Go On Before I Can Call My Relationship Official?

This question has no definite answer because the dating scene is so varied and ultimately falls on the people in the said “to-be” relationship. However, we believe everyone can agree that you cannot be in a relationship after the first date. Also, we don’t think it’s a good idea to ask someone if you are officially dating after only one date.

If anything, most people find it a little awkward or feel nervous when going on a first date. You don’t know how the other person will be, or even if you have an idea… you’re nervous about how the date will go. Since you usually ask someone out on a date because you are interested in them, you obviously have a million questions you want to ask them. However, you also know that you cannot just bombard them with your list of questions like an investigator.

These same rules apply when it comes to the relationship aspect as well. Even if you are the more interested individual between you… there are still essential, unspoken rules about the dating scene that are just accepted as the norm.

Although it’s not necessary to follow all of them to a T, a few things are universally agreed upon, and not asking someone to be in a relationship after the first date is one of them!

Becoming committed TOO EARLY can be a problem, if the two of you aren't exactly ready...
Becoming committed TOO EARLY can be a problem, if the two of you aren’t exactly ready…

So Then, How Many Dates Hit The Sweet Spot?

Many people agree that a minimum of 5-6 dates is necessary to get to know the person. And you don’t want to be in a relationship with someone you don’t really know.

In the beginning, perhaps the first 1 or 2 dates are when you’re basically testing the waters. You want to know some of the essential details, and you touch up on surface-level information. There might also be a lot of holding back just because both of you want to make a good first impression and you don’t know if you will see this person again.

Assess how the dates are going, first

If the date goes well and you decide to meet again soon, the atmosphere is much more chilled out, and you have a sense of comfort being with the same person again… but at the same time, it’s not enough for you to call this person your soul mate or even a close friend.

It’s only around the 4th or 5th time you see each other that you get acquainted with some of their quirks, what they like to eat, their interests, etc. By this time, you have both somehow managed to bond over certain commonalities that have made you want to see each other again and again.

See also: Why am I so unhappy?

To support this idea, there was a survey done by Time in 2015, where they asked 11,000 participants worldwide about their ideal number of dates before making it official. Most of their answers fell between 5 and 6 on average.

But if you like to wait things out, you might be okay to extend the time to maybe even the 9th or 10th date. It might sound like a lot… but there’s actually a generally accepted idea about ten dates that make a relationship official.

Learn to build trust... Trust will be key in establishing a healthy realtionship early on.
How many dates before a relationship: Learn to build trust… Trust will be key in establishing a healthy realtionship early on.

What Is The 10-Date Rule?

—How many dates before a relationship?

There’s no hard and fast rule that you have to be in an official relationship with the person you see by the 10th date… but there is a thing called the 10-date rule which is an idea that by the time you are on your 10th date, you are in an official relationship.

If you put this into perspective, give or take, you’re going out on casual dates for at least two and a half months or three months before you start dating officially. That means one date per week for the next three months, and then you’re ready to call it an official relationship.

There is no “golden rule” for the two of you

This might sound crazy to the average person who has never heard of such a thing. Still, this idea works on paper because you spend a reasonable amount of time getting to know the person before you devote yourself to investing emotionally in a relationship with them. Three months is the perfect amount of time you need to get to know a person from within and not the superficial self portrayed to you in the first few dates.

See also: Negative personality traits

The more acquainted you become, the easier it is for you to learn about their personalities, interests, behaviors, thought processes, and essentially the way that they live their lives. It also allows you to evaluate what it will be like to be in a relationship with them.

Practice good communication... Communicate about your wants, desires, needs, and more.
How many dates before a relationship: Practice good communication… Communicate about your wants, desires, needs, and more.

Does It Work?

—How many dates before a relationship?

While all that sounds good, this idea also has some flaws because not everyone is open to full commitment in the relationship. Perhaps they are only looking to have a little fun and experiment. After all, the dating pool is ever-growing and always abundant; there’s nothing wrong with wanting to experience it for the sake of it.

It can work, if you focus on it

On the other hand, seeing someone consistently for three months and then deciding that it’s not for you is not so practical. Especially if the other person is already head over heels for you, but you find out at the end of the 10th date that they are not for you.

The emotional damage this can bring upon a person is massive and not a situation anyone wants to be in. You might even feel led on and lied to for all the times you thought they were the one and invested your time and effort into the dates.

Set up milestones for your relationship

So instead of focusing on these ideas, why not assess the relationship through milestones? A few telltale signs in every relationship can tell you whether you are ready to call whatever you have an official relationship.

8 Important Signs That Tell You That You Are Ready To Be In An Official Relationship

—How many dates before a relationship?

You Both Have A Mutual Interest In Each Other

There cannot be a more apparent sign for a green signal to take this to the next level. If you both like each other’s company and love spending time together, why not make it official?

Of course, a relationship is more than just taking a mutual liking to each other. But if you find each other appealing and get with each others’ personalities, you won’t mind a little more time with them and making it official.

See also: How to tell if he loves me

You Catch Yourself Talking About Being In A Relationship

Whether or not THE TALK is on the mind, if you both find yourselves talking about the future or bringing up a possible relationship in the future often, then maybe you both are ready to commit.

Talking about it means you are probably thinking about it too, which is an excellent sign that you are ready to become exclusive.

You Are Both Available Emotionally

One of the most important factors to consider before getting involved in a committed relationship is whether you are emotionally available.

Everyone deals with relationship traumas and heartaches from past relationships. However, if the person you want to be in a relationship with still hasn’t healed from this trauma, it’s better to wait it out.

This works both ways. If you think you’re still not over your ex or have a lot of other things on your plate, you just don’t have the time for a committed long-term relationship; it’s better not to make anything official.

On the other hand, if you’re both healed emotionally and are single and ready to try love again, it’s a perfect match. Perhaps you still have a few issues and some emotional baggage that you might need to unpack, but as long as you both agree that you are willing to deal with it as partners in a relationship, nothing should stop you from making it official.

See also: How to tell if someone likes you

You Have Met Their Closest Friends And Family Members

After a few hangouts and dates, if the person you are interested in has already introduced you to their best friends and family members, they are ready for commitment.

In many relationships, meeting friends and family might come much later on as an essential milestone after they are officially in a relationship. But it can happen way before that too.

It shows that they see potential in your possible relationship and don’t mind introducing your existence to the people they are closest to. It also shows that they are comfortable and feel safe around you and want you to be accepted by their inner circle.

See also: How soon is too soon to move in?

You Feel Content When You Get To Spend Time Together

Other than feeling butterflies when you spend time together if you feel complete contentment when you’re with your person, it means you are ready to take the next step.

After the first few dates, you don’t really feel the need to plan intricate and fancy arrangements to spend time with them. Even if it’s just a walk in the park or taking the dogs out for a walk, you like any kind of activity as long as it is with them.

For you, it’s the fact that you’re together that matters, not what you do with your time together.

You Know And Accept Their Flaws

No one is perfect in this world. Not even the person you see as the most beautiful being on the planet, yet you are willing to accept them as they are, and you want to get to know them as their authentic self.

This shows a lot of maturity and that you’re ready to get into a real relationship. When you’re younger, you’re more naïve, so you tend to focus on the superficial aspects of a relationship instead of getting to know the real person underneath all the outer layers.

But when you find one person who might have a few flaws and imperfections in their personality, looks, or even their family, you accept those shortcomings because you know you’re imperfect too. And you’d rather spend your time getting to know the person on the inside.

See also: How to tell if a guy likes you

You Already Share A Few Inside Jokes

The epitome of a great relationship is when you have some things you talk about or a few stories that make sense to the two of you, or it’s related to you. Sharing these memories with each other makes it easier to connect because the fact that it’s a shared experience makes it so special.

You Don’t Just Have Chemistry, But You’re Compatible

All relationships start with an infatuation that can possibly blossom into real love and a real relationship. While you need chemistry to kick things off, at the end of the day, your level of compatibility matters the most. You might be head over heels in love with someone, but if you guys aren’t compatible, the relationship won’t work, or at least you’ll face a lot of issues.

Compatibility can be evaluated in terms of much deeper aspects of the person, such as their beliefs, values, principles, and the general idea of what they consider essential in a relationship.

If what they want from a partner and a relationship resonates with what you want too, it’s perfect! You never know what might go down once you decide to be in a relationship, but it’s worth a try when you have that level of compatibility.

Fact checked:
Board reviewed by Marianne Tomlinson, LCSW (Couples and Family Therapy). Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Learn more.

About the author

Ryan Sanderson (LCSW) Ryan is a game and relationship enthusiast who enjoys all things quizzes, games, fun, love, relationships, and family. He's a licensed social worker and helps families, couples, and children in need. He's spoken about love and relationships on Salon.com, Forbes, and Mirror, to name a few.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.