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Even though you’ve been together for months, you’re still not sure where you and bae stand. Are you ~ official ~? Her girlfriend? Ready to be brought home to mom and dad? Here are expert-approved tips to help move from a casual to an engaging relationship (finally!) … if that’s what you want.
Regardless of what your (and TBH, my) mom seems to be thinking, the days when dating was as easy as asking your crush to “keep calm” are long gone, and just because you were one had couple of dinners it doesn’t mean you do and what-her-name is official. Let’s face it: the transition from a casual to an engaged relationship in the Wild West dating back to the 21st century is a little more complicated.
Even so, you’ve seen this person at least once a week for the past few months. You get butterflies texting you, you laugh at the same scenes while watching The Office, and you’re both taco enthusiasts. It’s great – except you have no idea where things are. They still have to introduce you as their friend or raise you exclusively, and for better or worse, you long for the title “couple” and the security that comes with it. So what should you do when you want to turn that casual bond into a committed relationship?
(Also Read: How To Always Date When You Feel Lonely)
“Every person and relationship is different, and there is no magical phrase or act that could make him or her commit,” says Terri Trespicio, a New York City-based lifestyle and relationships expert. However, you can use these communication tips to make sure you are clear about what you want and to find out if they are on the same page or on a different planet.
How to transition from a casual to a committed relationship
1. Make sure you want this.
So you think (cue!) You want to do something serious with that special person – but before you do anything else, make sure that you actually want to switch from a casual to an engaged relationship. Trespeicio suggests stepping back and asking yourself the following questions: Do I have fun with it? Is my mood elevated when I’m with them? Do I feel fine after we break up? Do you improve my life? Do i feel respected?
In addition to asking yourself these important questions, you should also think about the J word: jealousy. If they are extremely jealous or are monitoring your every move, then you really need to reassess things before officially moving from casual dating to a committed relationship (if anything, by the way). And that’s important too! You shouldn’t say to yourself, “Well, you’re a nice person and you’ve done nothing wrong, so I should be with you.”
Why? “That convinces you of something that is probably not true,” says Trespicio. Bottom line: be in an engaged relationship that makes you feel good about being without them, but makes you feel even better with them.
2. Do not rush to DTR immediately.
It doesn’t seem intuitive, but when moving from casual dating to an engaged relationship, the main piece of advice from the experts is to keep the DTR conversation (aka “Defining the Relationship” or “What Are We?”) Out of the language bring to. “It’s like going to a party, turning off the music, turning on the lights and asking, ‘Are we all having a good time here? “Says Trespicio.” A good relationship builds on momentum, and checking in the fun at check-in is a surefire way to kill the romance. “
Let things go naturally and look at the evidence: is it trying to see you whenever it is free? Do you seem really interested in what you have to say? Do they enjoy dating as much as you do? Yes, yes and yes? Well, great: these are likely signs that they are really in it. So enjoy being with them and relax as you make things “official”.
“People who are not involved want to feel like they are with you. They don’t want to feel like they are being lured into a cage, ”Trespicio adds.
3. Bring it up easily.
However, you don’t have to stay in the dark forever. If it’s been about six months and they haven’t dropped a hint as to where they’re looking at this, speak up, says Jennifer Kelman, LCSW, Relationship Expert and Certified Personal Coach. For example, if you want them to meet ask your parents if they’d like to go out to dinner, but let them know there’s no harm in if they aren’t ready. Above all, keep your tone bright and maintain open lines of communication.
At this point, if you are confident that things are supposed to be serious, tell them that you are ready to move from a casual to a committed relationship, Trespicio says, “Explain what type of relationship you want and why, and define them what commitment means to you without issuing an ultimatum. “If they’re not open to discussion, give them a few weeks to think about it. But if they still don’t answer when you bring it up again, it may be time to reconsider the relationship. “You have to decide what more you want: someone who is committed, or that person, even if they never will,” says Trespicio.
4. Unplug the connector to connect.
For your next date, think beyond dinner and after-drinks. “With the best kind of date, you can stop texting, hang up, and make a deep connection,” Kelman says. Restaurants can be nice, but try something outside of your comfort zone from time to time. Check out a craft beer festival, see a local band at a hole in the wall, or challenge them to a mountain bike race. A new adventure can strengthen your relationship as it gives you shared memories to come back to later, and that stronger bond can help both parties move from a cool and casual relationship to a committed one.
Also, the data your partner presents can give you some insight into how he is feeling. “If you suggest seeing the Georgia O’Keefe show because you remember you like her art, that is a sure sign of romance,” says Trespicio.
5. Let your selfless side shine.
Spending Saturday mornings in the soup kitchen or helping an elderly person carry their groceries can help your partner see you in a more serious light (not to mention that good dead people like this are the thing for a citizen) . In a recent UK study, people rated potential sexual partners as more attractive for a long-term relationship if they had altruistic traits. “Giving back to others shows your good heart and integrity, and while they may not consciously think that far into the future, partners subconsciously evaluate a woman’s maternal traits to see what kind of mother she would be,” Kelman says .
This is not to say that you should be fixated on finding opportunities and acting in certain ways to impress your partner. Rather, a worthy person should (and hopefully will) be able to see you for all of your amazing qualities, and therefore stabilize yourself – whether or not you volunteer every week, every month, or a few times a year. Still, seeing you in the midst of the smallest of kind acts – walking your neighbor’s dog or buying coffee for the woman in line behind you (seriously, studies say it!) * And * so clearly – can improve your own mood to faint. When you are a kind and kind person, people are more likely to want to be around you – both consciously and unconsciously.
6. Maintain your autonomy – and hers too.
It’s easy to let parts of you go when you meet someone who you believe is the partner of your dreams. But not. “Trying to be someone you are not is so transparent,” says Kelman. Not to mention – and that’s important! – A deserving partner (and you too) should celebrate your personality, quirks and everything. So, if you’d rather go to the gynecologist than watch football or visit an art museum, don’t pretend you love the Steelers or understand abstract art just because the person you see is a fan.
Passion for puzzles? Can’t get enough of gardening? Own it girl. Not only is it important to be true to yourself, but safeguarding your own interests can help show how exciting your life is, with or without a Bae. “They want to be the fast moving car they want to jump in, not the one sitting in the parking lot waiting around,” says Trespicio. Keep your long runs going on the weekends even when they want to hang out and don’t expect (or nag) them to skip weekly basketball games to see you. “The most attractive thing to be a partner is someone who has their own autonomy and strength,” says Kelman. The more they see that you have a fantastic life of their own, the more likely they will jump in and want to be a part of it. And a committed relationship.
7. Show that you care.
There’s a fine line between being a little hard to come by and acting completely indifferent. At dinner, be careful not to constantly check your phone or move your eyes around the room. This is the standard that your partner should adhere to too! It’s from 101, but show that you care what they have to say and ask about their life. “People appreciate and want to be with someone who makes them feel great,” says Trespicio.
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