Relationship Status Terms: What Do They Mean?

Dating versus Relationship

Casual dating, exclusively dating, being in a relationship are terms that’s been on my mind lately.

I’ve been pondering when does dating someone turn into a relationship? I know people who’ve been monogamously dating for over a year. My current partner and I were in a committed relationship within a month; we’ve recently celebrated our one-year anniversary. 

A close friend of mine asked me, “When are you two going to be a thing?” I was puzzled and said, “We’ve been in a relationship for a year, what do you mean? And, what does being ‘a thing’ mean anyway?” She wasn’t able to give an answer. She acknowledged she didn’t have an answer, said something about it being a long busy day, she was tired, and then walked away.

Previously, she’s asked me on numerous occasions why I hadn’t moved yet. Let me pause and give a brief backstory. She’s monogamous and says she and her (now) husband of four years knew when they met they’d get married. She admitted love didn’t come right away and that it grew, “But, we knew we were the ones for each other when we first met.” She knows my partner and I are polyamorists. She knows we’re not on the ‘relationship escalator.’ We’ve had multiple conversations about my love life. 

I’ve deduced she was speaking from her monogamous mindset when she says things about my relationship that I consider strange. It’d be easier for me to understand her line of questioning and statements if she didn’t know I was polyamorous. Maybe it’s due to my partner and I not having additional partners for most of our relationship. I’m honestly not sure. I’ve digressed.


I’ve looked up dating versus relationship. Dating is primarily defined as seeing someone casually as part of the process of determining compatibility for a long-term commitment. Relationship was said to used when the person(s) committed to be exclusive with each other and have the understanding of building a life together.

I will disregard the word ‘exclusive’ in the definition due to it not being applicable to polyamorous people. However, the rest of the definition didn’t answer my question of when does dating someone become a relationship. Using the above definition as is, I’d consider monogamous persons I know who’ve been exclusively dating one person for over a year to be in a relationship. I’d consider polyamorous people to be in a committed relationship simply if they said they were. I understand people define words as they see fit, so the only way I’ll know is to directly ask them. 

What are your thoughts on what dating is versus being in a relationship? How do you define those two words?

I look forward to reading your thoughts. Subscribe for automatic notification of new posts and share this article and website with others. Thanks in advance.

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I journeyed from GED to a PhD in Psychology. I decided to focus on my writing once I retired from the clinical field. I write in various genres and have several WIPs for publication once edited. I post articles on this website for intellectual and entertainment purposes.

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