What is Dating?

"Dating" means different things to different people, particularly across generations. At loveisrespect.org, we define “dating” as two people in an intimate relationship. The relationship may be sexual, but it does not have to be. It may be serious or casual, straight or gay, committed or open, short-term or long-term. The important thing to remember is that dating abuse can occur within all kinds of intimate relationships.

Types of Dating

You and your friends may use the word “dating” or you may not. People describe relationships in different ways. Whatever you call it, we want you to understand and feel comfortable with whatever type of relationship you are in. Some of the most commonly used words to describe dating are:

  • Going out
  • Together
  • Being with someone
  • Seeing each other
  • Hubby/wifey status
  • Just friends
  • Friends with benefits
  • Hooking up

Regardless of the label you use, you and your partner should both accept the same definition for your relationship.

But I’m Not Dating!

There are other types of relationships that might not be considered dating that are just as real and that we can help you with here. Maybe you have a child with somebody, but do not consider yourself to be in a dating relationship with that person. Having a child together could feel like more than just dating, or you might have chosen not to be together anymore; there is no one way that relationships must work.

Another possibility is that you and your partner are married. Of course marriage is different from dating in some ways, but you might be surprised at how similar they really are! What makes a dating relationship healthy or unhealthy usually applies to marriage as well.

At loveisrespect, we focus on dating but this site is relevant to everyone.

Who is a Partner?

Simply put, a dating "partner" refers the person you’re in a relationship with. A healthy partner is:

  • Respecting
  • Trustworthy
  • Honest
  • Dependable
  • Supportive

Whether you’re in a long-term, committed relationship or looking for casual dating experiences, you can still experience abuse. People who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer/questioning (LGBTQ) can be in abusive relationships too. In fact, studies show that dating violence occurs at the same rates in same-sex relationships as in opposite-sex relationships.

Everyone has the right to a healthy relationship. If you’re "dating" someone now, take our quiz and check where your relationship falls on the spectrum.