Jumping Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire: Going from Dating to a Full-Fledge Relationship

dating-to-real-relationship-counselingAccording to Statistic Brain Research Institute (2015), 56% Americans are involved in committed relationships, while 44% claim to be single.
Are you contemplating whether or not to move to the next step? Yes, no, maybe? Have you been dating a while, but are somewhat afraid of changing the dynamics in your relationship? If so, don’t feel bad, almost everyone has experienced this dilemma at one or more points in their lives. And, let’s be truthful, the world seems brighter…better…when you are in love. You beam when you are around the person that has stolen your heart, and you genuinely enjoy spending time with him or her. And, before you know it your lives have become intertwined and you can’t imagine a life without your beloved in it. Truth-be-told, it is easier to remain at the “dating” level; however, so many benefits come with being a full-fledged “couple.” But, don’t get me wrong, there are also some disadvantages of “jumping into the fire.”

In all honesty, dating is not just easy, it also requires very little from each person. In other words, a person does not have to invest a lot of themselves – emotionally and/or physically into the relationship, however, when you are in a serious relationship, you are required to give your heart and soul to the person you are with, and on top of that, you are expected to make an effort in the relationship. Whoa! But, on the other hand, when you are in a serious relationship, you always have someone around to wipe your tears, pat you on the back after a bad day, tell you that he or she loves you, and go to the movies with when you are bored.

And, when you have a significant other, you have security and stability, which is very attractive to a lot of people. It is important to note that there is no defined timetable as to when you should go from dating to coupledom – it is up to you and your “friend.” In fact, some people become “attached” shortly after meeting (think 1 to 3 months after meeting), while others do not become a “couple” until many years later. It just depends on when you both feel ready, if ever. So, if you are wondering if it is time to make that jump, you are in luck – this article will help you determine if you are ready to take the next step in your relationship.

Listed below are some tips that can help you decide if it is time to pursue a deeper connection with your friend:

Find a “Special Place” Just for the Two of You
You are contemplating whether or not to jump from the frying pan into the fire, so what comes next? Well, if you decide you want to slowly enter into committed relationship, and your friend is onboard, you will probably want to find a “special place” just for the two of you. In other words, pick a few places that you and your friend frequent, and designate those places your “special places.” You both want to feel comfortable when you are together. So what kind of places am I talking about? Well, if you and your friend like to spend time at the park feeding ducks, then make that your “special place” and, if you and your friend like to go to Joey’s Pizza Joint every Friday night, then make that your “special place,” as well.

Go on Group Dates
Not sure if you are ready for a boyfriend or girlfriend yet, well, test out the waters. In other words, go on some group dates with his or her friends. Why go out with your potential partner’s friends? Well, because it will give you a chance to get to know his or her “inner circle.” It will also give you a chance to see a different side of your potential partner. Is your friend marriage material? Does he or she behave immaturely around his or her friends? Do you think you would enjoy becoming “attached” to your friend for the long haul? How did your friend treat you during the group date? How did he or she treat others? The answers to these questions will help you decide whether or not it is worth it to take the plunge.

Plan “Conversational” Dates
One of the best ways to determine whether or not you are ready for a commitment is to plan some “conversational” dates. What exactly is a “conversational date?” Well, it is a date provides you with a few conversational prompts (think movies, dinner, sporting events, plays, operas, and even museums). In other words, plan dates that provide you with plenty to talk about. Why is this important? Well, having something in common to talk about can break the ice, and help you avoid uncomfortable silences.

Have Dinner with Your Potential Partner’s Family
What is the scariest thing you can think of, when dating someone (this is especially true when you are shy, unsure or introverted)? Yep, it is meeting the other person’s family. Whoa! It know it can be nerve-wrecking to meet your friend’s mother and/or father, along with his or her sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and even the family dog, but if you really want to know if you are “at that point,” you probably want to go ahead and “just do it.”

So, take a deep breath and suggest that you both have dinner with his or her family. Then, arrange a casual dinner (nothing to stuffy or formal) at a lively, very lively restaurant (think Cheddars, Ole Charley’s, Five Guys, The Aquarium Restaurant, etc.) And, if you just aren’t ready to meet his or her mom and/or dad, plan a dinner with his or her siblings or cousins instead. The most important thing to remember – relax. It is only 30 minutes to 1 hour of your life, and it could change how your see your romantic future with your friend.

Take a Mini-Vacation
If you are on the ledge and unsure as to whether or not to jump, take a mini-vacation/weekend trip with your friend. It does not need to be faraway or extravagant; it just needs to be a place where you and your friend can connect on a deeper level. When you are together, how do you feel? Where does your friend, see him or herself in the next 5, 10, 20 years? Do you want to get married and have family? What about your friend – does he or she want to get married and have a family? Can you see yourself with your friend forever?

How does it feel to spend intimate time with your friend – away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? How do you see the relationship and how does your friend see the relationship? What do you and your friend want out the relationship and where do you both see it going? Don’t be timid – dig in and hit those murky and rough spots. You need to know that if you take the plunge, it will be worth it for both of you, so what better time to get down to the nitty gritty. So, plan a weekend trip to the next state, or just go camping – the choice is yours! Just be honest about how you feel and what you want.

Tips & Suggestions
Ok, so what if things don’t work out, and you decide you are not ready to become a couple? Well, most of all, do not give up. You will eventually be ready for a commitment – with or without your current friend. So, don’t give up on finding that happily ever after. Remind yourself that it just may find time to find the person that makes you want to spend the rest of your life with him or her. It’s ok, but do not act needy with your potential partners. More specifically, do not, and I mean do not, beg your potential partners to stick around, if you are not ready to commit and they are. You both deserve better. In other words, you both deserve to be happy, so don’t hold someone back because you are not ready. If it is meant to be with that person, he or she will eventually make his or her way back to you!

EHarmony. (2015). Where’s this relationship going? Retrieved from http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/relationships/wheres-this-relationship-going/#.ViJZ0n6rSM8
Muller, H. (2015). Becoming exclusive. Ask Men. Retrieved from http://www.askmen.com/dating/heidi/38_dating_girl.html
Statistic Brain Research Institute. (2015). Dating/relationship statistics. Retrieved from http://www.statisticbrain.com/dating-relationship-stats/