How To Go From Casual Dating To a Serious Relationship – 3 Relationship Experts Share Proven Tips + Insights
“A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.”
~ Mandy Hale
Tuning into your own wants and needs is necessary to figure out if or when you want to move your relationship from casual to serious. What do you need to check out with yourself to know when you’re ready?
What indicates to you that the relationship is serious vs. casual?
What criteria do you use to determine if you’re in a casual vs. a serious relationship? Indicators might be: Dating and sexual exclusivity, Seeing or calling each other daily, Moving in together, Sharing the costs of going out, etc. Remember that the two of you may have different expectations, so it’s always a good idea to discuss these, and not just assume you’re both on the same page.
What do you see in the other person that you would very much like changed?
As a therapist it’s surprising to me how often people expect their partner to make some big changes when they move their relationship from a casual to serious. Are you expecting things like: He’ll become more responsible, more agreeable, less selfish, more attentive, etc.
When you’re thinking about getting more serious, you need to thoroughly assess in yourself if you could accept your guy just as he is—without expecting him to change. Of course, relationships do change people, but you can’t count on what those changes will be. And, of course, it would be good to find out what he expects you to change as well.
How do the two of you handle conflicts?
The more serious a relationship becomes, the more opportunity and likelihood that your conflicts will increase. When the relationship is casual, you tend to brush aside your differences and work at pleasing the other person. However, when the two of you start thinking of being together long-term, then lots of things matter that didn’t before.
Suddenly things like how you each handle money, take on responsibilities, your patterns of eating, sleeping, time alone, TV watching, texting, etc. all become important to how you interact with one another.
Do you have satisfactory ways of handling these differences? How respectful are you to each other when you disagree? Do these differences get resolved or brushed under the carpet? Better to learn how to handle conflicts before things get too serious.
What would be deal breakers for you?
Coming to terms inside yourself on what you absolutely won’t put up with from the other person is important when moving from casual to serious. Becoming more serious is really an opportunity to get to know each other at a deeper and more intimate level.
Too often women tend to think that becoming serious is the same thing as being married. This can put you in a mind-set that you’re already committed forever, which can result in your trying to force the guy to become who you want him to be.
For example, you’re expecting monogamy, he has an affair, and you punish him, become furious, and make demands for him to change—instead of knowing your red line has been crossed and just leaving. In truth, fighting over changing the other person actually signals that you aren’t serious about what is deeply important to you.
How do you want to make this change happen?
So, you’ve decided that you’re ready to be in a more serious relationship, and you’ve figured out what you want, expect and need. What then? It would be good to start talking to your guy about what’s important to you in a long-term relationship. Discuss your hopes and dreams and what you’re each looking for in a partner.
The older you are, the sooner these discussions tend to happen, because you’re more clear and serious about moving forward in your life.
If you’re pretty sure that these discussions will push him away, then that’s a pretty strong clue that he’s not ready or interested in getting more serious.
On the other hand, if he’s pressuring you to get serious after just a few times together, you might wonder why he’s in such a rush to get a commitment even before you know each other.
All in all, the more you know about what you want in a long-term partner, the easier, quicker and more accurate you’ll be in selecting even casual partners who have potential for you.
Margalis Fjelstad, Ph.D., LMFT – www.margalistherapy.com
If both parties are on the same page I think a relationship progresses along naturally.
You start seeing more of one another; perhaps you start spending the night with each other, and your conversations deepen as you talk about more meaningful things as well as your expectations for the relationship. It’s when you aren’t progressing at the same pace (or at all) that it can be problematic.
There are signs that you need to pay attention to in gauging your partner’s level of interest.
If he doesn’t call or text fairly regularly, if he doesn’t seem eager to see you more often, if he breaks dates, or if you are clearly putting in most of the effort he’s probably not that interested. If you are looking for more I’d suggest leaving this relationship and looking elsewhere.
It’s not uncommon for people to move at different paces.
That’s different than a relationship where there is no movement at all. I think if you feel ready to make the relationship more serious, you’ll probably need to talk to him. If there’s been steady movement, this conversation shouldn’t be a big deal. Of course you’re not giving him an ultimatum, you’re just letting him know that he is becoming more important to you, and you’re asking him how he’s feeling about you.
If you’re serious about someone, you want to feel comfortable talking to him.
You want him to be a person who is open, receptive and not defensive. You want him to be able to talk to you as well. These are important traits in a good relationship. Having a talk about how you feel will let you know if he’s a person worth putting in the effort to deepen the relationship. You need to know if he’s worth committing to.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
Usually, a relationship will automatically develop into a more serious, committed one, when both partners are ready. It seems it’s a natural flow that is mutual, consenting and appropriate.
One individual can’t push it forward if the other person wants to slow things down.
So, if things seem to going well, here are some signs that you are moving from casual to serious:
- You are spending a lot of time together, without having an “official” date.
- You are meeting his friends and are introduced as his girlfriend.
- You have left things in his place, like clothes or hair products.
- You talk about the future and share your ideas because you have common goals, plus you see him there with you.
- You think about him all the time when he is not with you.
- He makes you feel good about yourself, because he is sincerely interested in your life.
Your nonverbal signals will enable him to know you are ready for more.
So, be open and receptive to his comments, behaviors, gestures and sentiments. Let him know you enjoy spending time together and would like to continue moving forward. Be sure you are ready to take this next step, as it means a commitment on your part to open your heart to him. Ask yourself if this relationship enhances your life or changes it drastically? Know that if you define your relationship as serious, you feel comfortable calling it that.
Your amazing relationship should be a bond that you are building together because you both want it and feel it, mutually.
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