Does someone specific pop in your mind when you think about the question? Been dating for a while now? Then this article might be for you. Many people who are dating have relationships as an eventual milestone in mind. I am writing this in the hope that it can give you a better idea whether you and your relationship with your date are right and ready for this next step.
What is the difference?
Different people define dating and relationships differently. Some think they mean the same thing, while some think they are completely distinct stages.
And with the emerging openness toward open relationship, the difference is no longer about whether you have sex with your partner exclusively. It is important to at some point clarify with your date/potential partner how he defines them. Regardless, the general consensus is that a relationship differs from dating in its level of commitment. The two of you are now in a partnership, you spend more and more time together, and you start to build your lives with each other in mind.
I’d like to highlight that a relationship is all mutual. If you assume you are in a relationship with this person but he does not think so, you are not in a relationship.
You may think that is too common sense for me to have to spell it out. But unfortunately, from my experience, it is far too common to see gay guys here who are too quick to act like they are already in a relationship when in actuality they have only just started dating.
I suspect this phenomenon exists because of Asia’s relatively closeted environment. I think this LGBT unfriendly environment created in some gay people here this fear that they will not find love, and made them too eager to jump in all too fast and too much when they do meet a potential partner. This desperate attachment creates unbalanced expectations and emotional demands that cause the opposite of what they want to happen, the date not developing into a meaningful long term one and crash.
When to transition into a relationship?
There are 3 aspects to consider when you are thinking about moving your dating life into a relationship life: The relationship itself, you, and him. The previous paragraph just alluded to an example of when all 3 of the aspects are not there yet.
Here are some things you can look out for to help you assess the different aspects.
Relationship wise, how close are you and your date?
For the relationship to be ready to move forward, you have to be comfortable to be yourself around each other. The best relationships often feel like you are with your best friend. The two of you should also be adequately involved in each other’s life.
Do you know each other’s friends and family? Or how each other’s routine is like? The fundamental knowledge of each other not only affirm your feelings, but also makes the process of integration a lot smoother.
Yourself wise, are you ready for a relationship?
Many gay men, particularly in Asia, rush into relationship for the sake of having a relationship. They feel insecure and fear loneliness, so they grab onto the first decent option the second they find one. You are asking for a heartbreak if you do that. To be in a healthy relationship, you need to be happy being by yourself first. Like Rupaul said, “ If you can’t love yourself, how do you love somebody else?”.
Instead of looking for your Prince Charming, work on yourself to be someone who your Prince Charming would want to be with. You need to also be at a good point in your life where you can have a relationship. That means you need to have the independence, time and effort available for it.
Lastly, to know whether your partner is ready for a relationship, the best way is to talk to him. See how he is regarding the criteria that the previous paragraph just mentioned. Communication is key.
If after reading this you decide that you are not ready, do not feel bad.
Be proud that you are self-aware enough to make that decision. Maybe the relationship needs more time and effort, maybe the guy is just not for you. You want to figure out which is the case, and act from there. This is not a fool proof guide to a committed relationship either.
Relationships can end even if you have a good start. And that is okay. That is how you grow and learn. And enjoy the journey. Maybe when you are finally ready, a relationship might just sneak up on you without realising it.