Studies show that more than half of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 don’t currently have a steady romantic partner.
Whether that statistic is due to more young people focusing on careers, a shift in dating culture, or just personal preference, learning how to go from a single person to a couple can be challenging.
Going from dating to getting serious with someone can be even more so.
If you feel as though you’ve finally learned how to find the right partner and be confident in your relationship, you might be thinking about taking the next step with your current partner.
Still, how do you go from casual dating to a serious official relationship?
Here are a few of the steps that you need to take to ensure that you continue to grow, both as individuals and possibly as a couple.
Ramp Up Your Communication
Before you make the leap from casual dating to a serious relationship, your conversations need to take a leap as well.
When you’re in a new relationship, your conversations usually center on learning about one another’s personalities and interests. Heavier topics, like your goals in life, whether you want to get married or have kids, or past struggles, are less likely to come up.
Part of the reason we keep things light at first is that we are getting to know someone. Many individuals use it as an opportunity to show just a few sides of their true selves, as they try to impress the other person.
Once that initial phase is over, it’s time to have those harder conversations. It’s not just a great way to learn more about the other person, but also a way to start growing together as a couple.
This doesn’t mean that you need to immediately take on discussions like whether the two of you would like to get married in the future or live together. Instead, you’ll be setting the stage for those types of conversations and learning to communicate with each other on a deeper level.
Commit to One Another
Online dating apps and websites have made it easier to meet new potential partners. In fact, 63 percent of online daters go on 1 to 2 dates a week. As much as 5 percent are actively talking with between 5 and 7 people on online dating apps at once.
If you’re someone who has been chatting with multiple people on dating apps or social media, but have decided to get more serious with one, those conversations need to come to an end.
Even if you aren’t sure whether you’ve found “the one,” if you’re choosing to date seriously, it’s very important to go all-in.
Leaving the door open to other potential relationships will only cause your new one un-needed strain. You’ll constantly compare your partner to others that you’re talking to.
You might think you know that the “grass isn’t always greener,” but it can be difficult to remind yourself of that in the moment.
All serious relationships will have arguments and disagreements from time to time. Toughing out those arguments and using them as a chance to grow together is important.
If you have other potential partners waiting in the wings, you might let yourself decide to pursue one of them rather than going through the important step of working past disagreements with your serious partner.
For many, making the relationship “Facebook official” by announcing it on social media is one great way to show each other how serious you are.
Spend More Time Together
When a relationship is new, or you and your partner are busy with work and other demands, you may only make time for short dates.
While dinner and a movie are great when you’re getting to know each other, you’ll need to start spending more time together if you ever want to get more serious.
Rather than only ever getting together for traditional dates, start looking for more casual ways to hang out.
Cook dinner together or watch a movie at home. Go shopping or visit your favorite parks and other public areas around town.
This will give you a chance to make new memories together, as well as a way to start learning about what each of you is normally like, away from structured, fancy dates.
Enjoy a Few Longer Dates
Don’t just aim to mix up your dates; make them last longer as well.
When you plan a dinner date, each of you has plenty of time to prepare. You can pick the perfect outfit, carefully arrange your hair or makeup, and even be cautious about what you say or how you act.
On the other hand, when you plan a longer date, like a day trip together someone out of town, many of these formalities go out the window.
You’ll see each other when you aren’t fresh and perfectly manicured. You might experience what the other person is like when they’re tired, or when they are out of their comfort zone.
You’ll also be forced to have deeper conversations when those casual topics run out.
Continue Being True to Yourself
The last thing you should do, whether you’re casually dating or looking to make things more serious, is to be anyone but yourself.
This is unfair both to your partner and to yourself. If you want to create something that is meaningful and has the power to stand the test of time, this is the biggest mistake you can make.
Be open with your opinions, wants, and challenges that you face. Don’t sugarcoat things. The right person for you will be willing to work through those challenges together.
Going from Dating to an Official Relationship
Making the leap from casual dating to an official relationship can be intimidating, not to mention confusing.
However, ramping up your communication, committing to one another, rethinking your dates, and being true to yourself can make the process smoother, and help the two of you connect like never before.
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