Tips On How To Transition Your Relationship From Casual To Official

Dating has always been an essential process prior to any committed relationship but is much more difficult today than it used to be. According to a 2020 research published by Pew Research Center, approximately 47% of all U.S. participants say dating is more difficult than it was 10 years ago. Among them, women were more likely to have much ado to navigate the dating waters than men, citing increased physical and emotional hazards, changes in social expectations, and the more casual nature of dating these days.

One of the biggest issues with modern dating is the overabundance of dating apps, which lure people into thinking that they have lots of options to choose from, per psychologist Dr. Tirrel Degannes (via Thriving Center of Psychology). When someone thinks they have lots of options ahead, they are reluctant to commit to their existing relationship and take it to the next level. Not to mention, dating in the digital era can be full of distractions, as social media can create unrealistic expectations of the perfect relationship and put many couples in a dilemma. If you're dating someone who isn't sure about moving the relationship forward and dating exclusively, here are some tips that might help you turn your relationship from casual to official.

Discern the right timing

No matter how intense your feelings are about the person, you need to wait until the time is right to start defining the relationship. Unless a relationship starts out as a marriage of convenience, talking about exclusivity right after the first date can scare the person off and make you come across as desperate. According to a 2020 Ipso poll (via Yahoo) surveying roughly 1,000 adults over the age of 18, 39% of U.S. participants agreed that the acceptable time to start discussing exclusivity is when a couple has dated for three months. Presuming a couple sees each other once a week, that translates to anywhere between 10 to 12 dates before they can start moving their relationship to official.

Dating and relationship expert Anita A. Chlipala tells Elite Daily: "​It doesn't have to be exact, but I recommend dating someone for two to three months before you think about exclusivity." Three months is enough to wear off the early-stage infatuation and enable you to start viewing your date's behaviors in a broader context, explains Chlipala. Giving your young relationship enough time to evolve naturally — at least until the first cracks start to show — also helps you put things in perspective and avoid the typical "crash and burn” phenomenon, where a relationship starts out very intense and promising but ends up dying in a matter of weeks. If your relationship can outlive the six-week mark, then you can start harboring hopes for something serious.

Make sure the person is official-material

Before bringing up the exclusive dating conversation, you need to ensure the person you want to be in a relationship with for the long haul is truly the one. Generally speaking, being in an official relationship means both of you won't be dating anyone else — unless you both agree to a polyamorous relationship — and that the relationship is heading somewhere serious, possibly with a marriage in view. If you don't think the person you're dating has the potential to be your endgame, stop right there. According to psychologist Dr. Laura Louis (via Brides), you know your relationship has the endgame potential when the one you're dating is honest about their expectations and their willingness to commit to you.

By the same token, the person must also see you as more than a fling in order for both of you to move the relationship to the next level. There's no point in trying to transition your relationship from casual to official when your date is dead-set against it. So how do you know if someone you're seeing is unofficially serious about going official with you? One way to tell is when the person talks about you to their friends and family and has publicly mentioned that they're dating you, Fling Or Love suggests. If the person enjoys making future plans with you — talking about their dreams and considering your aspirations — it's an excellent indicator that they're ready to go official with you.

Know the pros and cons of an official relationship

Before jumping into an official relationship, make sure you know what you're signing up for so you won't be dismayed when obstacles come your way. According to Múltipla Educação Profissional, one of the biggest disadvantages of being in an official relationship is that you're most likely expected to consider the person you're dating your top priority — so much so that you might lose sight of other things that also need your attention. For instance, there will be no flirting with or seeing other people, and you'll have less time for yourself and other relationships. You'll be expected to incorporate your "official date" into your everyday life plan, from making time for the person daily to showing up for them when they have problems to keeping each other in mind when making future plans.

For those with commitment phobia, being expected to adhere to the rules and boundaries of an official relationship might equal a decline in emotional independence and deprivation of socializing needs. If these knots take forever to unravel, they can lead to one party feeling trapped and wanting to get out of the relationship. Therefore, if you or your date is still very much fascinated by the appeal of an open relationship, trying to make it official might only push it to end sooner. On the other hand, if both you and your date are sticklers for stability, you're ready to make your relationship official, Couples Coaching points out.

Be honest about your intention since the onset

Once you're sure you want to make your relationship official and it looks like your date is also green-lighting your desire, it's time to talk about it — in a quiet place where there are only the two of you. It takes two to tango, so there should be no second-guessing when it comes to moving a relationship forward. Instead of texting or making a phone call, try to voice your proposal face-to-face. Face-to-face communication gives you the opportunity to pick up on nonverbal signals and body language, which can easily be lost via text or audio-only conversation.

Content-wise, tell your date exactly what you want and what you expect from going official. Dating coach Connell Barrett tells Elite Daily: "If you want a relationship, tell [your partner] how you're only interested in dating them while telling them why they're so wonderful." When you're honest and upfront about how you feel, you inspire the other person to reciprocate the favor and bare their soul to you. Whether or not their views are in line with yours, listen to them attentively and respond with composure. If the person turns you down, reply with a thank you for their honesty. At the end of the day, you don't want a partner who doesn't want to go steady with you. If the person says they need more time, respect their decision and get to know each other better.

Put intention into action

If you want to be in an official relationship, start acting like you're ready to be in one. To show your partner that you take your commitment seriously, start practicing what you preach and stop making excuses. If you both agree to be in a monogamous relationship, for example, close your online dating accounts, stop looking elsewhere for a lover, and try to fulfill your end of the bargain as you would want from your partner, advises online dating site OkCupid.

According to Healthybodyathome, practicing what you preach diminishes cognitive dissonance — a state of mental discomfort as a result of discrepancies in thoughts, words, and behaviors. When your belief system and your values do not conform to your actions, what follows are feelings of tension and anxiety that can weaken you mentally and physically. If you want to lead a healthy life and enjoy a wholesome relationship, learn to match your words with your intentions and match your actions with your words. When you show your date that you have your own set of principles that you intend to uphold, you win their respect, which leads to deepened emotions of mutual trust and safety.