How to Get Past the Casual Dating Stage

Talk to your partner about where he or she sees the relationship going.
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Don't get stuck in the "just dating" rut. If you've been on enough dates that the waiter at your favorite pizza place thinks you're a serious couple, it's time to make the transition from casual to committed. Initiate a conversation with your guy or girl, opening up the possibility to transition from "date" to "mate."

1 Get Deep

You will never get past the casual phase if you keep each other at a distance emotionally. If you truly want to move on, then you both need to share personal thoughts and feelings with each other. Revealing dreams, hopes, fear, worries and other inner thoughts is part of going from a casual crush to a close couple, advises the article "Love and Romance" on the TeensHealth website. Get past "just dating" and get to know your potential partner for who she really is. Ask her questions that go deeper than "What's your favorite TV show?" or "Did you see the new Brad Pitt movie?" Instead, focus on her beliefs, values and overall life goals.

2 Spell Out a Commitment

Casually dating and being committed are two very different stages of a relationship. When you're keeping it casual, monogamy may not be key. On the other hand, taking it to the next level means that the two of you are exclusive. Making a verbal promise to stick with your guy shows that you are in it for the long haul. Sit down and discuss what you both want out of the relationship and where you see it going. If you both want a commitment, make your ideas on monogamy and exclusivity clear. For example, say something such as, "I like you, and want to see only you. I don't want either of us to date or hook up with other people."

3 Ask Away

Are you feeling shy or nervous about bringing up the subject of moving from casual dating to a long-term romance? If your hints about taking your relationship to a deeper place are missing the mark, ask for what you want. Although it might seem scary to ask outright, doing so can get you what you want. For example, ask the object of your affection, "Do you want to make our relationship official?" Although not everyone who asks their partner to go from dating to the next level will get the result they hope for, your chances are much higher than if you don't say anything, reports the article "Just Ask for It!" on the Psychology Today website.

4 Spend Quality Time

Spending every second of every day together doesn't necessarily mean that you're headed toward a long-term relationship. It's the quality, not the quantity, of your interactions that make the difference between casual and commitment, note counselors Linda and Charlie Bloom in the article "Commitment: Myths and Reality" on the PsychCentral website. Getting past the initial dating stage means ensuring that the two of you have quality experiences together. For example, instead of spending Friday night staring at a screen together, turn the TV off, sit down to eat and talk about world events, politics or your respective days.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.