Dating itself can be incredibly confusing, much less, defining what your relationship status is. The difference between dating and being in a relationship can be subtle. It is important to discuss relationship boundaries with the person you are dating, and be clear in your communications with them.
The difference between dating and being in a relationship is commitment. If you are going out with someone on a regular basis, and you and your partner have agreed to date only one another, then you are in a committed relationship. However, if you are dating a person and neither of you have agreed to date exclusively, then you are not in a relationship and you are both free to also date other people.
Some of the most heartbreaking relationship problems can be caused by lack of communication. It is important to discuss your relationship status with your partner so you can get on the same page. A mutual agreement is necessary for determining where you are in your relationship. If any of this is unclear to you, at any point in the dating process, you should discuss it with your partner.
Prior to talking, you should sort out how you feel about the relationship, aside from anything your partner may feel, and decide what you want or need from your partner. The book, "Getting Love Right: Learning the Choices of Healthy Intimacy," suggests asking yourself the following questions: "Are the people you are presently involved with capable of giving you what you want in a relationship? Do you share similar expectations for the relationship? Are you currently involved with someone who has the potential to be a healthy partner?" After giving these questions some thought, you will need to have a discussion with the person you are dating.
So, you are confused about the status of your dating relationship and you need to have "the big talk". How do you bring it up? The best way to have this discussion is directly, and in a friendly manner. Also, it is best talk in person. Discussing your dating life via phone, e-mail or text allows for miscommunication. Be direct and ask the person whom you are seeing if they want to be exclusive or not. If the person you are seeing is reluctant to discuss the status of your relationship, give them a few days to consider it. If they still shy away from discussion, this could be a red flag.
Occasionally, you might date someone who displays confusing and sometimes manipulative actions or behaviors. For example: You have discussed it and have decided not to have a committed relationship, only casual dating. However, your date becomes possessive when your cell phone rings, or someone says hello. Or, your date will attempt to convince you that they are only seeing you, but they won’t actually commit. In either of these cases, you should reevaluate your relationship and consider whether or not you want to be involved with a person who is manipulative.