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Strictly labeling something as casual from the beginning can land you in a dead-end situation, and jumping headfirst into a whirlwind romance of vacations and meeting the parents the first month can land you in couples therapy before month two. The “healthy” route to a relationship that can A) Actually be a relationship and B) last, is smack dab in the middle of those two previously mentioned extremes. And smack dab in the middle is confusing! Here’s what to do when you’re in limbo with a guy you’re more than friends with but less than a girlfriend to and take the relationship from casual to committed.


Be sure you want him, and not just a relationship

When it looks like a relationship, feels like a relationship, and cuddles you after sex…the natural thought process is, “Well, this should just be a relationship.” But before you take any large steps, make sure you actually want a real relationship with this guy.


How to tell the difference between loving him and loving love

He shouldn’t just be convenient. He should greatly elevate your moods, make you feel good about yourself, motivate you in other areas of your life, make you love yourself more, and make you feel a new gratitude for being alive. So, does he do all that? Or does he just buy you lunch and give you satisfactory orgasms?


Don’t have “the talk”

Nothing kills momentum like screeching on the breaks to say, “Before we go any further, where exactly are we going?” when you felt perfectly fine going wherever it was you were going! Sometimes, in order to get there, you have to be okay with letting “there” come to you. So don’t. have. the. talk. No “where do you see this going?” or “what are we?” or “do you call me your girlfriend to other people?”

So how do you know where it’s going?

You can figure that out on your own if you pay attention. Ask yourself these questions: Does he make a point of seeing you when he has free time? Does he mention events far into the future to take you to? Does he call you just to ask how your meeting went? Does he seem elated to be around you? If so, remember this: he’s a normal human being who likes to be in love (or at least in like) just like any other! If his actions point in that direction, he won’t walk away. So you can relax a little.

Choose a “relationship-y” activity

Invite your parents into town to go to a concert or an event—something that isn’t intimate—and tell your guy, casually, “I’m going to this concert next week. My parents are coming to town for it (notice, it’s not to meet him)…want to join?”


To meet or not to meet the parents

He won’t if he’s not ready to take your relationship to the next level. And if he does come, he’s already warmed up to the idea of being your boyfriend. He knows what meeting the parents means; he’s no dummy.


Bring up other guys (or lack thereof)

If the guy was on board for meeting your parents in a casual setting, and you could put a check mark next to the other questions you asked yourself, it’s okay to lightly bring up the topic of relationships. It’s perfectly fine to say, “I just want you to know that I’m not seeing anybody else.” You don’t even have to follow that up with the question, “Are you?” You’ll get an answer, without asking a question.


Three ways he’ll answer

If he immediately tells you that he isn’t either, you’re moving towards commitment. If he tells you he is seeing other people, well, you may want to re-think this whole thing. And if he hesitates to answer or says “not really” it most likely means he doesn’t want the possibility of a committed relationship with you to go away, but he’s not ready to say anything that will plunge him into one right now.


Show him you’re a giver

Studies have found that people rate someone higher on the potential life partner scale if they see them do altruistic acts. I’m not saying you should pretend to be a giver—you probably already are! Just make sure he knows it!


Alert him to your altruism

If you volunteer at a soup kitchen every weekend, invite him to come with you sometime just to make him aware of your selfless side. Help an old woman to her car with her groceries, in front of your guy. If he was already toying with the idea of getting serious with you, he’ll get a big grin on his face when he sees this.

Give him a gift/do him a small favor

Also try directing that giving side of yourself towards your guy. If he lends you his car, go get it washed. If he got a rip in his pajama pants, pick him up a new pair next time you’re out shopping.

Evaluate his thank you

If he was already considering you a girlfriend, he’ll light up at this gesture. If he wasn’t, he will behave awkward, reserved, and hold back on a giant thank you so as not to lead you on about his feelings for you.


Let him know when you’re in need

Like many women who are on uncertain territory with a guy, you might be hiding it from your guy when you’re in need. You might not tell him when you’re sick, or even just feeling depressed, because you don’t know if you’re allowed to lean on him yet. Well, time to find out!


Lean on him!

Next time you’re feeling low and don’t want to go out, instead of canceling on him with a made-up excuse and hiding away with ice cream, tell him honestly, “I’m feeling a little funky tonight. Would you be into just hanging here with me and watching a movie?” If he sees you as a potential girlfriend, he’ll swoop right into the rescue.

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