Dating can be complicated and awkward.
How often have you heard someone ask, "so... how long have you guys been together," only to see one or both of them mumble some kind of awkward response?
What counts as "dating" these days, anyway?
Back in the day, it was simpler.
If you went on dates regularly, you were a couple. You didn't have to ask if you were dating. You didn't have to check if it was cool to sleep with other people too.
Sadly, those days are gone. Dating today is a million shades of gray, and it just isn't getting any simpler.
So how do you actually tell if the hot guy you've gone to dinner, drinks, and the movies with over the last two months is your boyfriend, your almost-boyfriend, your hookup, or someone you're “seeing”?
Or to go full vague and really up the WTF factor, is he someone you're “just talking to”?
More to the point, if you want a relationship, how do you know if you're wasting your time or not?
Aside from asking directly where you stand, there is no foolproof way to tell. Actually, I'm pretty sure even asking directly isn't foolproof.
But here are some easy ways to gauge where your relationship (or not-relationship) is heading.
1. You're Seeing A Lot Of Each Other (And Not Much Of Other People)
Get your mind out of the gutter! By "seeing a lot of each other," I mean you're seeing each other FREQUENTLY... not, you know, that you've seen every inch of each other's naked bodies.
If you're going on dates regularly and making time for each other, it's a good sign that things are progressing toward an official relationship.
By regularly, I mean once or twice a week with actual communication in between.
If he only hits you up on a Saturday night at 2 AM and wants you to come over, it doesn't count.
2. You've Met His Friends And Family
If you're just a hookup or he isn't interested in pursuing anything serious, you probably won't even meet the friends, let alone the family.
If you're being introduced to the important people in his life, he's opening himself up to some questioning about the two of you – and he clearly doesn't mind people knowing.
This is especially true of family. Let's be honest. He probably doesn't want to tell his parents you two are just having casual sex.
3. You're Making Plans (And Keeping Them)
It's a good sign if you make plans in advance.
I don't mean two hours in advance. He'll call on Wednesday to ask if you're free on Saturday, not shoot you a message at 8 PM to see if you want to get a beer because he doesn't have anything better to do.
He's not keeping his options open: He wants to see YOU. Making time for each other is a priority for the two of you.
Also, you make plans in primetime slots.
If you're only seeing him on Tuesday afternoons or Thursday nights while he sees his friends (or someone else) on Fridays and Saturdays, then you're probably not on his radar as anything too serious right now.
If you have a regular weekend date slot with each other, then you're doing well!
Another important note here is that your plans don't only involve staying at home. You go out sometimes. It doesn't matter if it's dinner, drinks, or a movie. What matters is that you don't just go to his place and end up naked after an hour.
I mean, there's nothing wrong with some amazing between-the-sheets time, but if you want a relationship, he needs to like you with your clothes on too.
4. You're Talking And Texting Regularly
See point one about communication between dates.
You'll speak most days, even if it's about mundane things and only for a few minutes. You know roughly what's going on in each other's lives and often have a quick catch-up after a long day.
Nobody wastes their time messaging and calling people they're not interested in pursuing something with. If you're texting until 1 AM every day or you feel weird if you go half a day without a message, then it's pretty obvious you're into each other.
5. You've Had The Talk
Sometimes this is the only way.
If you need to ask because you truly don't know what he thinks or whether he's that into you, then we're sorry to say that he probably isn't. It may be best to cut your losses.
If you're asking because you really feel like you're both on the same page, things are going great, and you both want to move things along but neither of you is brave enough to broach the subject, then go for it!
Sometimes he might just need a little push or sign from you that you're as into him as he's into you.
You can go the direct route and straight-up ask if you're in a relationship, or you can test the waters and casually refer to yourself as his girlfriend in front of him and wait for his reaction.
I suggest the “I picked up this/made you that/did that thing because I'm such a good girlfriend” line, said in a super casual way, obvs.
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter where you stand, as long as it's a place you're happy to be.
But if the two of you want different things, you should reevaluate your relationship -- whatever that term means for you.