When does dating become a relationship?

Amanda Angus / 15 May 2018

You’ve been on a handful of dates with someone and now you’re wondering where you stand – perhaps we can help…



Dating over 50 might be different to dating in your 20s but it’s by no means simpler – the issues you might have faced then have simply evolved as you’ve got older.

Questions still abound – will my friends and family like them? What happens if we argue? If we share a pudding, will they eat more than their fair share? But perhaps the most important question in the early stages is ‘when does dating become a relationship?’

Of course, the only way to know for sure is to have a frank and honest conversation with the person in question, but if you’re worried about broaching the subject too soon and frightening them off, there are some indications that things are progressing (or not) in the right direction…

You’ve met each other’s families

In your 20s, this might have involved an intimidating family meal where you met each other’s parents and tried to remember all your table manners; now, it’s no less intimidating but you’re meeting each other’s children.

The disapproval of parents could go either way – it might make your sweetheart even more keen on you just as easily as lead to a break up – but getting your potential other half’s children on side is much more essential, and vice versa.

If you’ve met them, and your date has met your children, and everyone seems to be getting on well, then the signs that you’re already in a relationship, or at least heading that way, are there.

If they’re reluctant to let you into that part of their life, you might have to cool your jets, because they’re probably not ready to move past the ‘just dating’ stage.

10 tips for new stepparents

You’ve stopped talking to other people  

Chatting to people on an online dating site can be a thrill, and slightly addictive, but if you and the person you’re seeing are no longer inclined to reply to messages from other hopefuls, you’re probably not just dating anymore.

Of course, you’ve no way of knowing that they’re not still chatting to other people (without invading their privacy, which is never a good way to start a relationship), but you can often see if people are online or active in chatting apps, so if they’re online but not chatting to you, it’s worth keeping in mind and keeping yourself back a bit so you don’t get hurt.

Find love online with Saga Dating


They’re your first port of call – and you are theirs

Something funny happens in the course of your day – who do you want to tell? Something goes wrong and you want a bit of sympathy – where do you turn?

If you’re ready for this relationship to become serious, odds are they are the person you want to share the ups and downs of your life with – and if they feel the same way about you, you’ll be the one getting a text saying ‘you won’t believe what just happened to me!’.

Of course, they might not be the sort to share all the details of their day – if they’re the strong, silent type then this probably isn’t a good way to gauge the depth of their feelings for you.

However, if you find that instead of chatting to you they’ve headed to the pub or out with friends, that might mean you aren’t forefront in their consciousness, and you might need a few more dates before becoming their go-to.

Dating in later life – the facts

You spend more time with each other than apart

Spending every moment with someone when you’re young and have all the time in the world is almost a way to stave off boredom, but by the time you’re in your 50s and beyond, you’ve probably found a few hobbies you enjoy doing. If you’d rather split a bottle of wine and watch a film with your date rather than playing a round of golf, or catching up on your reading, then you might be in a relationship without even realising it.

However, if you’re having a hard time prying your date away from a football match or a watercolour set in order to spend time together, they might not feel so strongly about you. On the other hand, if their hobbies have started including you, then that’s a good sign that you are becoming an established part of their life.

Bear in mind too that people can get set in their ways, so if your prospective other can’t bear the idea of missing bingo on a Tuesday or tennis every Sunday morning, don’t take it to heart.

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Be wary of the rebound

If you’ve just finalised your divorce, or you’re getting over the loss of a spouse, don’t rush into a relationship just because that’s what you’re used to – and equally, be mindful of your date’s recent romantic status.

This might be the first time you’ve been single in decades – enjoy it. You’re independent in a way you could never be as a young adult, so make the most of it.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.