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How to Get Past the Casual Dating Stage

by C. Giles

Moving on from the casual dating stage can be tricky. A couple may find themselves in a sort of no man's land, a place between the first few weeks of dating and a serious, committed relationship. They may not be dating anyone else, but technically they are still allowed to because they have not yet agreed to be exclusive. This stage can actually prove fun; you are still getting to know the other person, you are both making the effort to impress each other, you probably still get butterflies when you see each other. Taking the next step requires one of you to be bold and ask that all-important question.

Be patient. Most relationships naturally develop into something more serious after a few months of dating. As time goes on, you should feel confident that your relationship is turning into a proper commitment, says licensed professional counselor Debra K. Fileta in "The Problem With Casual Dating." If you still have doubts after a few months, it's time to have a conversation with your other half.

Ask your partner where he sees the relationship going, advises writer and advice columnist Catherine Specter in "When Casual Dating Isn't So Casual." Be prepared for an answer you don't want to hear, such as "I'm happy with things the way they are. I'm not ready for more commitment." Have an honest conversation with your partner if his response disappoints you. This is a huge turning point for you both. Ask your partner why he doesn't want to make a commitment to you. Decide whether you are prepared to carry on dating casually.

Move forward with your partner if he responds positively to your request for commitment. Enjoy this new stage of deeper understanding and affection. Have a frank conversation about what commitment means to both of you. A serious relationship requires absolute honesty, says professor of psychology Roya R. Rad in "Tips on Building Commitment in a Relationship."

Modify your lifestyle to acknowledge your serious relationship, suggests Rad. Make time in your schedules to do something enjoyable together on a regular basis. Set specific goals to strengthen your bond, such as spending time alone together every day, taking up a new hobby together, or setting aside time every evening to communicate if you're unable to meet in person.

Have realistic expectations of your relationship and your partner. Relationships change over time; be prepared to take the good with the bad. Accept your partner's shortcomings, advises Rad, unless these are causing damage or harm to you.

About the Author

C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."

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