The Match Lab

After How Many Dates Are You Officially Dating?

The early stages of dating can be really confusing, especially when it comes to knowing whether or not you’re officially dating yet.

Based on our research, most couples become official within one to three months of dating.

Another way of looking at this statistic is that most couples could be considered “official” after 5-10 dates on average, though it may take some couples more than 10 dates.

After How Many Dates Are You Officially Dating?

Here are some ways to know what it means to be “officially” dating, whether you’re officially dating yet with someone new, and how many dates in that milestone tends to happen by.

Defining Official Dating

The Difference Between Casual and Exclusive Dating

What it means to be officially dating isn’t exactly the same as being exclusive, though becoming exclusive tends to happen when a dating situation becomes exclusive. So let’s start by understanding the gap between casual and exclusive dating.

When you’re casually dating, you’re still exploring your compatibility with them early on or you’re just enjoy each other’s company and that’s all there is to it.

Casual dating typically involves minimal commitment and low emotional attachment, and both people might still be going out on dates with other people.

Casual dating is about having fun. It’s not about serious intentions for the future.

On the other hand, exclusive dating is all about investment.

Each person has agreed not to see other people and is committed to building a significant relationship here.

Becoming exclusive typically serves as the first step toward a more serious, long-term relationship. It’s during this phase, or soon after, that you might start to identify as a couple, calling your partner your boyfriend, girlfriend, or significant other.

The Importance of Communication

Communication is the hallmark of any healthy relationship, and discussing the status of your dating situation can help you and your partner understand each other’s expectations, assumptions, and desires.

It’s essential to talk openly about your feelings, to discuss possible plans and goals for the future, and to share how you view the relationship right now.

Because each dating situation and relationship is so unique, and because each person operates in such idiosyncratic ways, there is no set number of dates or a set timeframe before a couple becomes official.

But there are some averages and trends to note.

Surveys find that it tends to take anywhere from one to three months before you’re officially dating and exclusive.

That’s a good average to keep in mind, but note that everyone is different. The pace at which any relationship progresses depends on you and your partner’s preferences, your attachment styles, your level of comfort, and your connection and commitment to each other.

To move your dating situation into something official, use open and honest communication when you feel ready so you can establish a foundation of trust and understanding.

Clear communication can help you both stay on the same page about where you are at and where the is going.

Recognizing the Signs of Becoming Official

Consistent Communication

A key sign that you may be moving towards a more serious official relationship is that you and your partner are communicating with one another consistently.

When you find yourselves texting or calling regularly, whether you’re just catching up about your day, your feelings, discussing shared interests, joking around, or sharing important aspects of your life, it’s a sign of emotional investment in the relationship.

Emotional Bonding

As you go on more dates with someone, you’ll likely start to form a deeper emotional connection with them, especially if you share more vulnerable things about yourselves and delve deeper into physical intimacy.

Sharing your inner thoughts, hopes, worries, and dreams and having thoughtful discussions about your feelings and perspective allows you and your partner to see a clearer picture of one another and to feel out whether you could work well as a couple long-term.

Emotional bonding is important to develop before fully committing to a relationship and making anything official. Only with solid emotional connection can you know for sure that you’re compatible and can imagine a potential future with this person, whether that’s for a year or for a lifetime.


One clear sign that you’re officially dating someone is that you’ve agreed to become exclusively, meaning you agree not to date anybody else.

Even before any talk about exclusivity, you may notice your partner’s increased interest in spending time with you and their disinterest in pursuing anybody else romantically.

When moving towards exclusivity, it’s essential to have “the talk” to express your intentions and to define the relationship without any misunderstanding.


Another element of an official relationship, which may or may not be the same thing as exclusivity, is making clear a certain level of commitment from each partner, which is a stated or otherwise obvious desire that each person would like to continue dating.

While each person takes their own unique amount of time to make it official, on average, most people need 5-6 dates to be ready to enter a committed relationship.

Commitment means a lot of things, from being there for each other during tough times, providing emotional support, and planning a future together.

Knowing that you and your partner are committed to growing together and talk about building a future together is a key sign that you may are entering the territory of officially dating.

How Many Dates to Become Official

The truth is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to how many dates it takes to become official.

Every relationship is unique and progresses at its own pace.

Some couples might feel ready to define their relationship after just three dates, while others may wait three months, or even longer.

What’s important is to practice open and healthy communication and to develop an understanding of each other’s needs and desires.

The Four or Five Dates Rule

One common recommendation for making things official is the Four or Five Dates Rule.

This guideline means that, after four or five dates, you might start discussing the possibility of becoming official.

After 4-5 dates, you probably have a better understanding of your compatibility, shared interests, and communication styles.

During these initial dates, you should focus on getting to know your potential partner emotionally, physically, and in terms of their lifestyle and long-term goals.

No Set Timeline

At the end of the day, as much as it can feel good to have a single number of dates in mind, just take it easy and accept the uncertainty.

There isn’t any no one-size-fits-all answer for determining the exact number of dates before you’re officially dating.

Instead of focusing on a timeline, prioritize open and honest communication with your potential partner. Get to know them deeply and work on developing a bond.

Discuss your feelings, boundaries, and expectations early on to ensure that you’re both on the same page, as scary as that may be. There’s no need to get it all out at once. Each date, or every few days, you can open up more and more gradually as it feels comfortable.

In the end, be sure that you trust your instincts and have honest conversations about your feelings and expectations and desires for the future.

Remember that what’s most important is the connection, bond, and happiness you share with your partner — not the exact number of dates you’ve been on together. That’s just a number. Who you are to each other isn’t so easily quantifiable.

Focus on nurturing the bond between you two and let the relationship evolve naturally, having the key conversations when the time feels right.

The Talk: Defining the Relationship

How to Approach the Talk

When you feel it’s time to enter an official relationship, you’ll have to bring up a “define the relationship” (DTR) talk. Hard as this talk may be, there’s no other way.

First, choose a comfortable setting where you can have an open and honest conversation with your potential partner. Choose a setting and time when you’ll feel calm and emotionally grounded and when your partner will feel at ease too.

During conversation, remember that it’s a two-way interaction. Make sure to listen actively to your partner and be empathetic to their feelings and thoughts.

Important Discussions in Becoming Official

During the DTR talk, you can start by expressing your emotions and how much you care for the other person. Share your desires and expectations, such as the level of commitment or exclusivity you wish to have in the relationship.

It’s also important to discuss your future plans and goals.

Some other points to bring up when defining the relationship include any boundaries or dealbreakers you have when it comes to relationships and any particular emotional or physical needs you have for feeling safe and satisfied in a relationship. Never assume your partner can read your mind — because they can’t. You have to tell them what’s inside your mind for them to know how to be there for you best.


Successful relationships rely on establishing and respecting sets of values.

A solid foundation for any relationship includes setting values and principles and committing to abiding by them.

During the DTR talk, explore each other’s perspectives on important topics like trust, communication, monogamy, honesty, and personal growth. When you both align on these core values, then you can increase the chances of having a relationship that is successful in the long term.

Ultimately, defining a relationship is all about clarifying your needs, desires, and boundaries. It’s about sharing your enthusiasm for your partner and letting them feel safe and open to share how they feel about you. By having a DTR conversation, you and your partner can get on the same page about being official and start building something truly meaningful.

How to get more first dates from dating apps

Hopefully these tips give some insights into knowing how many dates it takes until you’re official dating, and how to transition from just dating into an official relationship.

If you’re on dating apps and want to improve your dating profile so you land more first dates, we have you covered.

We at The Match Lab offer professional services to create dating profiles that attract high-quality matches.

If you’d like to find out which are your most attractive photos to use in your dating profile, give our dating photo analyzer a try. Just upload some photos of yourself, and our algorithm will reveal which photos you should be using in your profile and the ideal order they should go in.

If you’re looking for help with writing your dating profile, then check out our professional dating profile writing service.

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