Dating vs Seeing Someone: A Guide to Understanding the Difference

by Gideon
January 4, 2022

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Dating vs seeing someone: What is the difference and does it even matter? This post will serve as a short guide to help you understand the difference (if there is one) and what it could mean to you.

Back in the day when I was still dating, knowing the difference between dating vs seeing someone was pretty simple – if you asked them to be your “girlfriend” and they said “yes!”, you were seeing each other (exclusively) and your love status changed from “single” to being “in a relationship.”

However, until you asked them whether they wanted to “go out,” you were still just a casual partner and going out on dates, i.e. dating.

Nowadays, for all the supposed cleverness we have, things have actually gotten a tad more complicated.

There are so many rules and factors one has to take into account when asking someone on a date, no wonder dating has become such a mission and, in many cases, a disaster for so many singletons.

What was once simple is now a nightmare of red tape, grey areas, facemasks, and pronouns.

dating vs seeing someone

As Paige McPhee writes in her article, “How To Tell If You’re Dating, Seeing Each Other, Or Just Hooking Up,”

“I think most of us can agree that, at this point, the millennial dating culture is pretty fking wack.”

Paige McPhee

So, what exactly is the difference between dating and seeing someone these days?

This is exactly what we’re going to cover in order to eliminate any uncertainty.

Defining The Concept Of Dating

Dating is essentially a form of courtship that consists of social activities done by two people with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or marriage.

Dating may also involve two or more people who have already decided that they share romantic or sexual feelings toward each other.

Dating is basically the process of finding someone you are interested in, getting to know them, and deciding if you want to continue to date them.

Dating can be a lot of fun, but it can also be hard work.

dating vs seeing someone

It takes time and effort to get to know someone, and you never really know what you’re going to get until you try.

There is also no one right way to date since everyone has different preferences and values.

Some people prefer to casually date several people at once, while others may only want to date one person at a time.

Some people believe that dating should lead to marriage, while others see it as simply a way to have fun and explore their options.

Ultimately, the best way to date is the way that works best for you and the person you’re dating at the time.

What is Seeing Someone?

“Seeing someone” generally implies that you and your partner have progressed past the period of initial dating and are both prepared to make long-term plans.

The introduction of the partner to friends and family members is a regular occurrence at this time in a relationship.

This is frequently the stage at which the majority decides to move in together.

When two people are “seeing each other,” they place invisible “official” rings on their fingers.

To put it simply, they’re making a commitment to one another that they’ll be there for the foreseeable future, which is also when the real learning about one another begins.

dating vs seeing someone

In the early stages of a relationship, both people are usually on their best behaviour.

They’re trying to make a good impression and they want to please the other person.

They’re also trying to figure out what the other person likes and doesn’t like.

If they’ve decided to move in together, they might end up spending most of their time together and seeing each other a lot during this stage.

There are many new experiences that couples encounter during the early stages of moving in together.

One of the most common is learning how to live with someone else.

This can be a challenge, especially if the two people have different habits or lifestyles.

Another common experience is adjusting to changes in financial status.

When two people live together, they typically share expenses, which can lead to a change in how each person spends money.

Additionally, couples often have to learn how to navigate new relationship dynamics.

This can be a challenge if they haven’t done this before.

Now, the early stages of moving in together can be a rewarding time for many couples.

However, there are challenges as well.

Couples will learn many things about each other and themselves during this time.

They may also have to overcome some emotional issues.

This is often the case if they’ve never moved in with someone before.

When a couple gets along well, the transition to living together can be fun and easy.

However, some couples end up struggling even when they got along great while dating before moving in together.

These problems can sometimes be avoided with some pre-moving discussion.

Learning how to live with someone else is a challenge that many couples face when they start to live together, but it’s all part of the process of seeing someone exclusively in a growing relationship.

If you want to learn more about the 4 stages of a relationship, check out this post I wrote recently.

So, with that in mind, what then is the difference between dating vs seeing someone?

The Major Difference Between Dating vs Seeing Someone

To begin with, despite the fact that the terms “dating” vs “seeing someone” sound nearly the same, they mean very different things.

This is especially true when we consider how social media has changed the meaning of these terms, especially when the modern hookup culture and diverse cultures, in general, are taken into account.

dating vs seeing someone

Furthermore, a second language speaker’s understanding and application of these concepts may differ from that of a mother tongue speaker.

Even so, someone in Australia may use the terms differently than someone in America, and even within the same countries, subcultures, and age groups may use the terms differently.

However, that is perhaps getting a little too technical.

Keeping it as simple as possible, what can we say is the major difference between dating vs seeing someone?

According to some articles like “Dating vs. Seeing Someone: What’s the Difference?” by Bryan Rucker, one indicates you put up your best effort to impress, but the other means you display both sides; the good and the bad.

Others, like Kate Taylor’s article, “What Does it Mean to Be Seeing Someone?” argues that people who are “seeing someone” are also dating, which means they go on dates with the person they are seeing on a regular basis.

Additionally, because the term “seeing someone” implies exclusivity by definition, it would take just one conversation between the couple to decide whether or not to enter an exclusive relationship.

In other words, she argues that “seeing someone” encompasses “dating that person” and also implies exclusivity; thus, the concepts are synonymous in that sense.

I would argue, that the major difference between casual dating and seeing someone exclusively is the notion of commitment since a relationship requires commitment.

Casual dating typically involves no commitment from either person involved, whereas seeing someone exclusively means that both people have agreed to date each other exclusively and are not seeing anyone else.

dating vs seeing someone

This typically means that the two people are monogamous and are not sleeping with anyone else, should they be sexually active.

There is also the idea of exclusivity in the case of seeing someone.

Exclusivity in a relationship means that you and your partner are committed to each other and no one else.

It means that you are not allowed to see or talk to other people in a romantic way. You may still be friends with other people, but you cannot date them.

You must still stay loyal and committed to your partner.

When couples are in a monogamous relationship, it is usually because they love each other and want to be with each other exclusively.

So, in summary, it seems that the concepts of commitment and exclusivity are key differences between casual dating and seeing someone.

What Are the Benefits of Dating Someone?

There are several benefits to dating.

One of the main benefits is that you can learn a lot about yourself by dating many different people without having to commit yourself to any one person or relationship.

Doing that will can help you learn about yourself and what you are looking for in a companion.

That is especially beneficial since partner selection plays a huge role in relationship success later on, in my experience.

As the old saying goes,

“No amount of therapy can overcome the wrong choice in partner!”

Another benefit is that you can get to know someone else and determine whether or not you have any chemistry with them.

In the event that you and another person have chemistry, you can begin to explore more intimate activities like kissing, holding hands, and more regular dating, all of which could lead to you seeing that person exclusively in a committed relationship in the future.

That, in turn, has the potential to lead to another benefit of dating: the discovery of a life partner.

What Are the Benefits of Seeing Someone?

There are many benefits to having an exclusive relationship.

First, you know that the other person is just interested in you and is not seeing anyone else, which will make you feel special and appreciated, potentially leading to increased levels of happiness.

It might also help you feel as though you are valuable and have a purpose in life.

It might make you feel like you’re worth someone’s attention and love, which is the ultimate sensation of bliss: knowing you’re wonderful and deserving enough to be loved by another human being.

Second, you can have faith that the other person is solely committed to you.

That can provide you with peace of mind and make you feel more confident in the relationship, both of which are extremely important for your mental health and intimacy in general.

When two people commit to each other, they are consciously choosing to be intimate and share their lives.

Because the couple is now working together towards a joint goal, that commitment frequently leads to a deeper connection.

They are no longer two individuals, but rather a team.

dating vs seeing someone

Because the couple can rely on each other for support and affection, this level of intimacy can be extremely rewarding.

However, it can also be tough because arguments and problems tend to become more common or difficult to settle as a relationship progresses (for example, children, career choices, health challenges, etc.).

In the end, a couple’s devotion to each other is the deciding factor in whether or not they stay together.

It’s not the problems themselves that create breakups, but our incapacity to resolve them that does.

Third, when you are seeing someone exclusively, you can focus all of your attention on them and develop a stronger bond, which can lead to a more fulfilling and loving relationship since you are showing them that they are special to you.

By focusing on the other person, you are also demonstrating that you are interested in who they are as a person, which can help with the development of a more meaningful and deep emotional connection.

And we know that one of the most critical aspects of a good relationship is a deep emotional connection.

When two individuals are emotionally connected, they share a deep and profound bond that allows them to understand and support one other in good and bad times.

This bond provides them with the courage to face any challenge and weather any storm.

It also increases feelings and behaviours of intimacy.

Fourth, an exclusive relationship may lead to the meeting of your eventual spouse or life partner.

It is more difficult to develop a romantic relationship when you are simply seeing someone on a casual basis because you cannot generate the same emotional connection that you would with someone who could be your significant other.

One of the most significant factors to consider if you’re thinking about getting serious with someone, in my opinion, and experience, is how much time you spend together.

If you want to know if someone may be something more serious, even a life partner, you need to make sure your lives are compatible, which entails spending a lot of quality time together.

Spending a lot of time together will help you determine whether you’re compatible or not.


I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic. What do you think is the difference between dating vs seeing someone?

Leave your thoughts in the comments area below.

About the author 

Gideon

Gideon is the founder of TheRelationshipGuy.com, a top-50 relationship blog (2021) and top-100 marriage blog (2021) which focuses on providing healthy relationship advice about love and life. He earned a Master's degree in theological studies before training as a professional counsellor and hypnotherapist (DipProfCouns., DipMSHT.) almost 10 years ago. He completed a graduate diploma in Psychology and is currently pursuing postgraduate Psychology studies at Massey University. He has been married to his wife for over sixteen years and is the father of two children. His articles have been published on Marriage.com and The Good Men Project.

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