Imagine this: you recently got out of a long-term relationship that just wasn't working out. You're devastated. You can't stand the thought of being alone, but you're a little glad to be free of the commitment. After being in a relationship for so long and suddenly just ending it, you begin to miss the companionship, but you don’t miss the hardships that came along with it and probably ended it. That's my theory for how dating relationships start.

Since you're here, you probably have an idea of what a "dating relationship" is. Dating relationships fall somewhere between friends-with-benefits and relationships. You get the sex, but not the commitment. You get the dates, but you don't get the title. It's companionship without the commitment. It's more than just "seeing" or "hooking up" with someone because there are actually some feelings involved. It could be the same or similar to the dating stage before a relationship begins, but it could be different because in dating relationships, neither of you try to pursue anything further.

Once you establish with a potential companion that neither of you wants a full-on relationship yet, it all goes downhill from there. Because who wants to get straight into a relationship right after getting out of one? Ew. Just kidding. But seriously. It probably won't get past where you are now. Once you get into a dating relationship, it becomes comfortable – you get to be with someone you like and you don't have to deal with them nagging or arguing with you. So comfy.

Whether you're seeing someone to move on from your ex, pass the time until something better comes along, or see if you're compatible to actually be in a relationship, dating relationships are great for many reasons.

1. There are no rules.

Just as there are no rules in friends-with-benefits arrangements (besides the avoidance of feelings), there are no rules in dating relationships. You are not in a relationship. You can't expect them to commit to you. You can't expect them to see you more than once a week. You can't expect anything really. Well, you can, but you're not really in a position to. But hey, if you want rules, be prepared for the dreaded ~what are we~ talk.

2. Don't expect any commitment.

It's definitely nice to get some sort of commitment (no STDs plz), but it's not something that should expected. I mean, dude, if you're not going to make me your girlfriend, why should I have to commit to you?!

In all seriousness, when you’re hooking up with someone you aren't in a relationship with, you’re not really entitled to anything beyond sex with that person, no matter how much more you think you deserve. They're not committed to you, so you’re not really allowed to get mad at them for sleeping with or talking to other people. You're free to do the same. Remember, no rules.

However, if you both establish commitment with one another, das cool too.

3. It's okay to have feelings involved.

If you're just hooking up with someone, you probably don't have any mutual feelings involved. However, when it comes to dating relationships, it's more than just hooking up. You both acknowledge that you have some sort of feelings for each other, whether they be mild or strong. This small amount of sweetness makes your situation a little less bitter. It ain't all about sex!

4. References to the future mean nothing.

Whether it be "someday we'll travel together" or "I'm going to introduce you to all my friends", references to the future ain't shit when you're in a dating relationship. Especially when it's alternated with statements like "when this is over". Why you gotta be so confusing for?

I guess it feels nice talking about the future with someone even if you don't see one with them. Companionship without commitment, words without meaning. *So deep.*

5. You won't meet their friends and family.

Not complaining though, because you probably don't want to introduce your not-boyfriend/girlfriend/partner to your friends and family either.

6. It may feel like you're in a relationship, but you're not.

Just because you act like boyfriend/girlfriend/partners, doesn't mean you are. Doing cute couple-y things? Holding hands and kissing in public? Going out on dates? Going to things like the Toronto Christmas Market with them? Spending weekends together? Hanging out even if sex isn't involved? You may be acting like you're in a relationship, but you aren’t really in one. It gets confusing as heck.

7. At some point or another, you'll be regretting your life decisions and singing Childish Gambino lyrics.

"Are we dating? Are we fucking? Are we best friends? Are we something in-between that? I wish we never fucked, and I mean that."

8. It's probably not going to last.

If we're being realistic here, it probably won't go beyond a dating relationship. Especially if it's already a long-term thing. Don't make the mistake of letting it go on for longer than a few months if you know neither of you will ever want more.

If they don't want to make you theirs now, they don't want to make you theirs ever. Maybe they're just waiting until something better comes along (they probably won't find anyone better because you're so awesome). Or maybe they're just comfortable with the situation they have with you. Not trying to be a Negative Nancy, just trying to be realistic yo.

9. There isn't really an ending.

There is no "breakup". Either one of you disappears or you just drift apart and stop talking. Or maybe you both still have feelings for one another but realize it will never go anywhere. Even though dating relationships are more than friends-with-benefits, they’re just as easy to leave. You get to do all these things with and have all these mutual feelings for someone, but it just ends without even a goodbye. In that way, it kinda sucks.

10. You can actually stay friends.

This is the great thing about dating relationships. Despite all the feelings that were had and the sex that was enjoyed, you guys were never actually in a real relationship. And since you never had a relationship, you never had a breakup. You can message them or like their profile picture six months down the road and it won't even be weird.

On another note, if you manage to progress a dating relationship into an actual relationship, good for you!

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