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Generally speaking, "dating" describes a less serious level of commitment before either person is ready to describe the other as a girlfriend or boyfriend.
This is not a firm rule because the terms have no strict definition.
It's hardly news that conventional dating norms have gone out the window and, with them, so too have traditional dating labels.
"Boyfriend" and "girlfriend" seem to share the same fate as the now arcane "going steady." People are still dating -- sure -- but recently, would-be couples less readily refer to one another as "boyfriend" or "girlfriend," opting instead for basic , sans label.
Casual dating is a marvelous way of getting to know all kinds of people, without having to feel tied down to anyone until you’re absolutely ready. That being said, it is important to remember that your dynamic with anyone, regardless of who it is, won’t be as intense or committed as in a serious relationship.
Serious relationships tend to be monogamous and long-term—or at least conducted with that intention in mind.
Love isn’t a word thrown around lightly when casually dating.
Let’s consider the signs, to see where you might be. This isn’t always the case, but there’s a chance that if you’re casually dating, you have a friend who’s also single, and you’re having sex on occasion.
But make sure you're being realistic about this assumption, and not just basing it in fantasy. If you're ever confused, just ask your partner casually.
This is where the term “partner,” short for life partner, comes in.
Not to diss serious boyfriend/girlfriend couples, but the term “partner” carries with it not only a relevant non-gendered reading, but also its own degree of seriousness and initiative.
At the same time, not everyone we date in our mid-20s is our “soulmate,” and many of us still have our fair share of rebound relationships, one-night stands and other non-serious affairs.
But in general, the mid-to-late 20s shows a dating shift: We're closer to finding “the one,” and anyone we take seriously will, for lack of a better word, be taken seriously.
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Many times, this confusion doesn't stem from “what are we? ”True, the terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” are age-old and synonymous with a committed relationship.