Most dating experiences aren’t straightforward journeys from your first meet to romantic engagement dinner. And many daters don’t have great communication habits, so their intentions and desires aren’t obvious. It can be confusing trying to figure out where things are going or if they’re even going anywhere at all. So, what are the signs that a casual relationship is getting serious, and how do you avoid misinterpreting signals?
The desire to dissect your date’s behavior to discern the subtle shift from casual dating to exclusivity may lead you to make assumptions. Either missing an obvious clue that things are going well or misinterpreting a casual remark to mean something more.
You don’t have to be a mind reader to see the signs that a casual relationship is getting serious, but you do need to check your assumptions at the door. If you jump too far into the future, you’re setting yourself up for heartbreak.
Here are some guidelines to follow to know the difference between wishful thinking and a more serious commitment.
Don’t Trust These Signs A Casual Relationship Is Getting Serious
There are a lot of situations that can appear promising in the dating process only to end in frustration. Use caution with these signs, because while they seem positive as if the relationship is advancing, they could also mean something else entirely. These particular signs could be positive, neutral, or negative depending on the details.
You can find these activities enjoyable, but don’t take them as signs a casual relationship is getting serious.
You Have Long Conversations
Having deep, meaningful conversations about your lives is a great way to create emotional intimacy. And with the right person, it can be a great start to a wonderful relationship. However, there are plenty of daters who desire this type of connection but are not emotionally available for something more.
We had a client who was dating a man who had been recently separated. They spoke every day, shared many laughs, and had a great connection — but he never moved things forward. Instead, he used the situation to heal his broken heart from his divorce and to feel better about himself. He just wasn’t emotionally available for a deeper commitment.
You Text Often With Each Other
Frequent texting can seem promising. You wake up to a good morning text and receive check-ins throughout the day. It’s easy to assume that this person is hot for you, right? The problem with text communication is that it is very convenient and requires very little commitment.
You may like to text each other and have someone to share your day with, but since it requires very little energy it isn’t a reliable sign a casual relationship is getting serious. It’s also very easy to fill in the blanks and assign tone to text communication. This means that you are filtering the text message slanting it either positively or negatively. Either way, the communication itself is not being received as intended.
He Gives You Gifts And Attention
Gifts and heavy attention too early in the dating process can be a red flag. Some men come on strong because they don’t want to be alone. He may want to WOW you and take you off the market, but if you don’t really know each other yet, he can be wasting your time. He may not be an ideal match for you.
Enjoy the attention, and appreciate the gifts, but don’t mistake them for something more. It takes time to get to know if the two of you are a match long-term. There’s no secret shortcut or crystal ball that will reveal how the two of you will face challenges together.
He Invites You To Scheduled Trips and Events
If he’s inviting you out to the theatre, concerts, or weekend getaways enjoy the time together, but don’t make assumptions that he is serious about you yet. Just because you spend a lot of time together doesn’t mean that things are getting serious. You don’t want to just be his Plus One.
He may simply want companionship. Be mindful of abandoning your friends, and your already scheduled plans to make room for his desires. There is a big difference between a man getting tickets to see your favorite band, versus the guy who is inviting you along because he bought two tickets months ago before you knew each other.
Don’t count the hours you spend together as evidence of a serious relationship, instead pay attention to what happens as time goes on.
You’re Feeling Jealous
Some people think jealousy means their heart is really invested. If you’re succumbing to the green-eyed monster — wondering who he’s with, who he’s texting, and worrying about his attractive co-worker it's more likely a sign of insecurity rather than a budding romance.
Jealousy means you’re fearful you will lose love. If you’re coming from fear there is no space for love to blossom. Look through your relationship history to see if this is a pattern of yours, and if it’s not you may discover that he’s been hiding things from you and your intuition is spot on. Either way, feeling jealous is not a sign that things are getting more serious between the two of you.
You Have Sex Frequently
Off-the-charts chemistry and great sex in the early part of a relationship will flood your body with feel-good hormones. So, keep your feet on the ground and remain level-headed — this may not be true love.
Chemistry and attraction are necessary ingredients for a long-term relationship, but on their own, they don’t indicate an ideal match for love to last. There are many factors to consider, most importantly that the two of you share the same values (which has nothing to do with being hot for each other).
Trust These Signs A Casual Relationship Is Getting Serious
There are signs a casual relationship is getting serious that you can put your faith in. If you notice any of these indicators, you can feel confident that your relationship is moving forward and can grow beyond just a casual hookup.
He Makes Plans With You For The Future
If he’s asking you out in advance, plan spending holidays together in advance, or taking a trip you plan out together, then the relationship is getting serious.
Casual relationships are all about the present moment. One of the signs your casual relationship is getting serious is when you are planning the future together.
You’re Getting To Know Each Other’s Friends And Family
In a casual relationship, you just hang out and see each other last minute when it’s convenient. A clear sign a casual relationship is getting serious is meeting each other’s friends or spending time with family. The desire to introduce one another to your inner circle is a definite sign things are getting serious.
Keeping a relationship on the down-low, or delaying introducing friends and family is a great way to keep things casual. That way if nothing comes of it, you won’t have to explain to everyone what happened. The more you’re involved in each other’s lives, the more serious the relationship is.
You’ve Pulled Through Your First Fight
It’s impossible to avoid conflict and misunderstandings that happen when you spend time together. If either of you is ready to call it quits with the first bump in the road, then things aren’t serious between the two of you.
However, if you both have a strong desire to clear things up, repair, and reconnect, then the relationship has legs. Remember, conflict is inevitable, and choosing to move past a conflict and connect more deeply is a sign a casual relationship is getting serious.
Physical Intimacy Requires Emotional Intimacy
Are you delaying physical intimacy until you feel a strong emotional connection? Are both of you sharing dreams and goals so you can bond over them? These are signs your casual relationship is getting serious.
Casual sex means that you can just walk away after getting hot and heavy. You’re not spending breakfast together the next morning, or having meaningful conversations late into the night. When you’re willing to wait and create an emotional bond before introducing physical intimacy, then you’re investing in a serious relationship.
You’re Open About Your Feelings
Sharing your feelings and not just your thoughts allows you both to be vulnerable.
When you both openly share how you feel, and express yourselves authentically, then things are getting serious.
Love requires risk and sharing how you feel can be scary. If you’re both willing to risk and speak how you feel about each other then your relationship can grow into being serious.
You’re Thinking About Each Other’s Happiness
Casual relationships are often marked by an imbalanced dynamic. One person is interested in more, and the other just wants it to be convenient. Relationships aren’t always convenient, they require compromise and compassion.
One of the signs a casual relationship is getting serious is that you are each thinking about the other person’s happiness. You’re both willing to see each other’s points of view and to make adjustments to your behavior. In a casual relationship, you’ll move on when the relationship is no longer easy or convenient.
In order for a casual relationship to develop into a more serious one, you’ll have to take a more conscious approach. A loving partnership that lasts won’t just magically happen when you least expect it.
Be open and express the vision for the relationship desire. Express yourself authentically and share how you would like the dynamic to be between the two of you. It’s best to find out early in the dating process if you are both looking for the same things.
If you’re having a hard time finding someone to date, or most of your relationships fizzle out after a few months and don’t get serious, download our special report, The 5 Stages of Relationship. Learning the natural course of an intimate relationship will put you on the road to the long-lasting, soul-satisfying love you desire and deserve.
Orna and Matthew Walters are Soulmate Coaches who have been featured guest experts on Bravo’s THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER. They uncover subconscious blocks to love so that you can select an ideal partner to share your life with. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.