How Long Should It Really Take to Be an Official Couple?
"I feel like a guy knows within a month or two if he wants to be your boyfriend," Christina Harris said on her podcast "Gin & Toxic."
"You think it takes a month or two? Fifteen minutes tops," said Mario Mirante in his viral TikTok stitch of "Gin & Toxic's" clip.
"Sure there might be a few dates, maybe a few weeks, whatever, just to make sure that gut feeling's right, but if it's been months…he don't want to date you, girl," Mirante said, adding the reason guys who are not that into you string you along for a few months is because of alternative motives.
I was in a situationship like this in my 20s. I even saved him in my phone as "Not Your Boyfriend" so I wouldn't forget. So how long does it take to be official and how can you tell if the person you're dating will commit?
Could it really only take 15 minutes?
Harris somewhat agreed with Mirante but stated the clip from her podcast was "very much so taken out of context" (as most things are on the internet).
In the full episode, there was some qualification.
"[It isn't] as black and white as we made it seem on TikTok. I do believe that a guy knows immediately if he wants to be your boyfriend or not," Harris said. "However, what I was trying to say is if a guy doesn't ask you out within a month or two, he is not going to be your boyfriend."
Harris said while she does think it takes a guy 15 minutes to decide if he likes you and can see himself in a relationship with you, it should still take a few weeks or dates before you are exclusive.
Fifteen minutes is not enough time to truly know if you can or cannot be in a relationship with someone. In that quarter of an hour, it is totally possible to be physically attracted to someone, but it is not enough to tell if this could be your future partner.
"It is important to recognize that initial attraction is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to forming a meaningful connection," said Avigail Lev, Psy.D., founder of Bay Area CBT Center in San Francisco.
OK, so how long does it usually take couples to be official?
"The longest you should give this person is three to four weeks," said Annie Das, an international dating coach in Denver. "Within a month, you should be able to tell if someone is serious about commitment. This is if both parties are serious about wanting a relationship, mutually interested in each other and have shared values. If you're sitting around for a month or two, waiting for him to ask you to be his girlfriend, he's not going to."
In fact, most people don't know immediately, according to Jay Serle, L.M.F.T., Ph.D., the clinical director of The Ohana Rehab in Hawaii.
"Love at first sight can be confused with lust or passion, which happens at the very beginning of a relationship," he said. "A person may feel as though they have experienced love at first sight when, in reality, it is lust or infatuation that they are experiencing."
It can actually be a red flag if you decide you want to be in a relationship with someone within 15 minutes of meeting them or before a month. Why? Because in this short amount of time, you still know nothing about this person, according to Karolina Bartnik, an Austria-based dating and relationship expert and co-founder of the SimplyTogether website.
Often when someone wants to commit too quickly, they can seem too good to be true, which is another red flag, because they probably are.
"They've been putting on a show for you," she added. "In order to be in a long-term partnership, you have to be willing to let someone see you for who you are. They might not dare to do that."
Signs they're in it for the long term
The biggest sign a person wants a relationship with you is if they keep making and keeping plans with you and you feel they're prioritizing spending time with you. This person shouldn't make you feel desperate or suspicious.
Another great sign is if they're introducing you to their friends and family and want to meet the people who are important in your life, said Jeni Simas, a CTAA-certified relationship and intimacy coach based in Baltimore.
Other signs the person you're dating wants to be in a relationship with you include:
- They genuinely want to know about you and how you are doing.
- They remember the small details you talk about.
- They tell you certain things remind them of you.
- Uses more "we" and less "I."
- You have deep and meaningful conversations.
- You talk about the future.
"If you're seeing a guy and that question of commitment has not come up in some way, you need to ask, 'What are we doing here?'" Harris said. "Stand up for yourself. Beginning to be confident and taking initiative is so f**king sexy. On the third date or whatever, be like. 'Listen what do you want out of this? Do you want to be in a relationship? Do you not?' Make it very clear from the beginning so there's no hard feeling on either side."
The signs they may never commit
"If it is not obvious to you that this guy wants to be with you, then he probably doesn't," Harris said. "When the person you're dating keeps on pulling away and then blaming you for it, know that it's not your fault. It's a sign you're dating someone with either attachment issues or emotional unavailability issues."
"As long as they don't take responsibility for their own problems, they'll continue stringing you along forever," Bartnik said.
Other noncommittal red flags include:
- After hanging out, you never know when you'll see them again.
- It's been more than a few months and your relationship isn't defined.
- There are constant mixed signals. One day they give you all the attention, the next they won't text you back.
- They forget major details about your life.
- They hide texts or phone calls like they're dating other people.
- They never ask about you; you usually listen to them talk.
- They never plan dates in advance.
- They've been single for more than 10 years and seem to like their freedom.
- Weeks go by without communication.
- You never meet their friends or family.
- You only see them after they've been out.
- Your conversations are all surface-level.
"Relationships that are going to work run hot for a good while," Simas said. "It's about motivation and buy-in. If logistics are ruining your relationship, it was not solid to begin with. If you're having misunderstandings that can't be resolved, that's a sign that someone is trying to use a grievance of convenience to take advantage of the next person in their inbox."
When to know it's time to give up
"The best time to give up? Honestly? Last week. You have probably already given them every chance they needed," Simas said. "The only way to find out is to let that bird go. If it comes back, it was meant to be. If not, next."
"If you have had a conversation with them about your relationship goals, and they are not ready to commit, it could be a sign that they will never commit to you," Serle said.
When I finally walked away from the guy saved in my phone as "Not Your Boyfriend," he asked me to be his girlfriend and I said no because it felt like he only wanted me because I was walking away. He was in a committed relationship with another girl a month later.
Years later, I married someone who made it clear he wanted a future with me from our first date. It was worth the wait.