There’s an inevitable amount of murkiness involved in dating, and one of the questions we get asked the most is about the progression of a relationship. We recently had a listener email us (send in your questions at any time to firstname.lastname@example.org) wondering when you should stop using dating apps after you’ve started seeing someone new.
While it would be much easier if relationships came with a set timeline that was universally understood, it doesn’t work that way. It’s definitely a case-by-case thing. This is why you have to suffer through the “What are we?” conversation in order to clear the air.
But when? General rule of thumb: If you would be devastated if you saw this person on a date with someone else, it’s time to talk about where you stand. With that said, here are some points to consider to make the process less confusing:
(1) Always clarify or risk hurt feelings.
Unless you explicitly state your thoughts about your current relationship situation, you can’t assume the other person knows what you need or want. You might think it’s pretty clear that you’re only seeing each other, but you have to verbalize this to be positive that you’re on the same page. It’s worth a semi-awkward discussion.
(2) Just because they have notifications, doesn’t mean they’re using the app.
They were scrolling through their home screen to show you something and you caught a glance of their Tinder app, which had five new notifications. You might feel your stomach drop as you imagine them spending hours swiping. Keep in mind that just because their notifications are piling up, doesn’t mean they’re still actively engaging with the app. They might have gone on a right swipe bender when they first hit download, and now you’re seeing the delayed results.
But if it’s something that bothers you, this shows you it’s worth a conversation.
(3) Agreeing to be exclusive doesn’t have to be a big, scary step.
Some people get hung up on this notion of “exclusivity.” After all, maybe another, even better person is just a right swipe away. Agreeing to take your relationship to the next level should be taken seriously, but don’t let it intimidate you. Even if you’re not 100 percent sure right now that this person is The Love of Your Life, if you are interested in seeing where it goes, give it a fair shot. Being exclusive doesn’t mean that in six months you have to be ring shopping. It just means you want to invest time and attention into your connection.
(4) Don’t jump into something because you feel obligated
At the same time, you shouldn’t be pressured into something you’re not ready for just because it feels like that’s what’s supposed to happen. It’s OK to want to keep seeing other people or to decide that there actually isn’t a deep enough connection to continue seeing this person at all.
Regardless of your choice, though, you owe the other person an honest assessment about what you’re feeling as soon as possible. Vagueness is unfair for everyone involved.