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From ‘Dating’ to ‘Relationship’ – Tips from 16 Countries

20 October 2020

Years ago, a Belgian friend dropped a bomb that left me shocked…

“We don’t really date,” she said one day, while we were lounging at the beach.

“We just kiss… and then we’re in a relationship.”

Not dating? Not having a “Talk” about your “Status”?  How would you tell the difference between a Date and a Relationship?

Over time, not dating seemed like the only logical solution when you also have a full-time job, friends, a house to keep clean, aging parents to check in with, and so on. The good news is that,  if you’re ready to meet the right person for you, you don’t have to date multiple people.

Women simply want honesty, integrity, and to understand if they are compatible with you.

Dating is one process that helps you get to know each other through doing different activities together. You will have more success in getting to know them if you are honest about your stage in the process. Sharing your desire to understand your criteria is helpful, because women are often in a similar situation – discovering what they want.

Women always appreciate honesty in a man. They want you to tell them how you’re going to take them from dating to relationship. This means telling them the kind of relationship you desire, and the timeline you have in mind.

As Niki from the USA shared, “It’s easy to simply ask “Is this a date or as friends?””

We spoke with women from 16 different countries about they go from dating to relationship:


“When we are single, we may go to have a drink or even dinner with different people to “see if it fit”. But once there is a kiss, there is a relationship (unless explicitly agreed on before). Kissing someone else once the first kiss happened is perceived like cheating (and the people doing so like “sluts” – the word is a bit strong but I don’t find the right one).” – Marie


In Brazil we kiss and date many different people. It takes longer before you are in a relationship, usually after you’ve been going out with the same person for a few months. You don’t stop going out with other people until you know both are committed.” – Julia


“I’m Canadian, and I think it varies a lot person to person which is why communication is so important. Most of my relationships have started out with dating (but only dating one person) for a month or so, then clarifying our relationship.

“As soon as I have a date or two with someone, I stop talking to other guys in a flirty way.”- Laura


“It is not okay to go on a date with one man one week and with the other one the next week. Not openly at least. It’s not expected that a man spends more than 5-10 euros on the first date, no dinner dates at all.” – Andreja


“We don’t date. At least there’s no word for this concept in France. And I don’t like ‘dating’.” – Loula

“The 1st day of your relationship is on the day that you kissed for the 1st time.” – Caroline

“We meet a guy and as soon as you start kissing, you are suppose to be in a relationship. I actually like it. Don’t have the time and energy to date multiple guys. This is just too much effort for me. One drink is usually enough for me to know if I want to see the guy again.” – Blandine


“It’s difficult to pinpoint in Germany. First of, we don’t really have a word for “dating”. It’s just more going out or hanging out together, but no label. Until you have “the talk”. Dating here is super casual. There is no real culture around asking someone out. It’s more like group hangs or maybe going for like a date, but it’s still very casual. Until it gets serious.” – Larissa.

From 'Dating' to 'Relationship' - Tips from 16 Countries - Date Night


“You’ll be surprised to know that, we don’t really date as well. It’s kind of an older generation thing. I used to “go out” with friends, and sometimes it led to something more… but it was really more a friendship at first then actual dating. The few times I actually was on date, I felt akward, like I wasn’t being natural.” – Luna

“People in their 20s just have their fidanzato (fiancé) they met 10 years ago, and then eventually they just get married and move out of their parent’s house.” – Andrea

“From the moment we kiss, we are “a couple” and thus “I & I” is converted into a singular “we”… I have never been a “dater”, but I find the “Italian way” too quick, without the flexibility of really getting to know one another.” – Nihal


“You start dating after being asked out officially. He will say something like, “I like you, will you go out with me?”. It’s not normal to kiss or have sex on the first couple of dates. You hang out together, go on dates, and then the guy asks you out officially after getting to know the girl. Although it’s corny, I like it, because you actually know that you’re in a relationship.” –  Evgeniya.


“My Dutch colleagues told me me: there’s “to see each other”, “to date”, and “to be in a relationship”. These are the stages of the process of knowing each other leading to a happy marriage. Dating is more serious than seeing someone.  The majority of the Dutch people are very loyal and dedicated to being in relationships. My female colleagues say: “Yes, I am married, but there are more men than churches, and while I like my husband now, he is not the only one in this world.” Or they simply don’t want to get married to be free to go away at any moment.” – Natasha from Russia.

“It’s a grey area here. When I was single I liked dating, it would teach me a lot about what I like and don’t like about a guy.A date to me doesn’t mean anything physical is gonna happen. And if it does, it doesn’t mean you’re exclusive straight away. I always saw it as experimenting until I found the right one (which I did!).” – Karlien


“In Manila, we did not date as students. Girls still expected guys to court. Going out would involve a group of girls forming a “protective” shield that kept activities innocent of sex, but also gives her friends an opportunity to suss out the guy’s intentions (he’d have his back-up pal along, too). Relationships formed naturally, usually when we are of working age, among colleagues or fellow graduate students or church members.” – Gabrielle

From 'Dating' to 'Relationship' - Tips from 16 Countries - Image 3


“Dating just means you go on dates, restaurants, etc. until you are calling each other a boyfriend/girlfriend, and only after that you might have sex. At no point of dating someone would I assume it’s okay to date somebody else at the same time.” – Monika


“If you see someone a few times and seem to pass the “sex only” situation, it is assumed that you are both exclusive. The dating-more-than-one-person-at-once is almost unacceptable to us.” – Laura

“I would not dare to date more than one man, unless I know is just fooling around and not seeking to be serious. If the man I dated was dating some else, I will consider that cheating.” – Lynd


“When I get to know someone, I do so by meeting them, hanging out together, working on events together, etc. Some I have more fun with, and we get closer, start inviting each other to hang out in other contexts, start having dinners, call them for help in emergencies etc. Sometimes there’s an instant connection, sometimes it grows with common experiences. For some friends, there’s this sexual spark and we might flirt, have sex, or become a couple. – Jessica


“The dating period is around 2-3 months. Then, if everything is going well and you still want to get to know each other, start the a relationship.” – Stefany

“Dating (seeing more than one person before it’s considered a relationship) meant people weren’t serious about their intentions and not worth the effort. That didn’t mean I considered a kiss on day one a relationship. It just wasn’t nice to see more than one person at the same time even if there wasn’t still a formal promise of anything. For me dating meant seeing one person and getting to know them to make sure I liked them for it to progress to another stage, the relationship (boyfriend and girlfriend). And at 41 I still won’t date more than one person, and won’t date anyone who keeps dating other people.” – Lolo


“You see the same person out or at parties a few times and it eventually morphs into a relationship. Kissing someone once does not make a relationship. Nowadays with dating apps, this has changed a bit and people are dating multiple people more. It also means that you meet people well beyond your social circle, which is definitely a good thing!” – Clare

“We don’t really date, just hangout and maybe end up officially exclusive.” – Tazmin


“I will maybe date like 25 people casually before choosing one with whom to get into a relationship. And I have to be pretty steeply courted with all the traditional treats like flowers, food, concerts and trips before I would be interested enough to be exclusive.” – Noelle

“My Swiss boyfriend thought I was such a ho when he found out I was seeing like 15 other people from the first time we kissed. Like, bro, we were NOT in a relationship. YOU NEED TO ASK AN AMERICAN.” – Katie

“American dating is an awkward series of social interviews .” – Alexandra

“If I’m going to meet someone who could be attracted to me, I always clarify if it’s a date or casual hang, to avoid confusion later. Not having proper communication could lead one person to think they’re dating and the other person to think they’re just friends. It’s easy to say – “Is this a date or as friends?” – Niki

What is dating like where you live?

Is it different to where you grew up?

Tell us in the comments below.


Top photo via Sony Pictures. Date night dinner photo by Stone House NJ. Balcony photo by A. Narinthorn.

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