How do you turn a fling into a relationship?

I’ve been asked a lot of different variations of the question “How do you turn a fling into a relationship”. Sometimes people wonder how to turn casual dating into a relationship, a friends with benefits into a relationship, a one night stand, and so on. Rather than focus on each individually, and to avoid getting hung up on the language of the question, let’s break down what people are actually asking:

You’re involved with someone, sexually or romantically, but you would like to progress into a committed relationship, with all the preconceived notions of what that means. It’s very likely that you want a partner who will be monogamous, committed to building and growing a relationship, and someone who is willing to claim their commitment to you in the form of a title like boyfriend or girlfriend.

I think that’s a fair definition for what it means when people say that they’d like to turn a fling, friends with benefits situation, or anything similar into a relationship. So let’s tackle how to do it.

First things first, a quick reality check. As far as I know, and feel free to correct me to some peer-reviewed, evidence based research published in a scientific journal that disproves my idea, there isn’t a guaranteed way to turn a fling into a relationship. I’m sure that you’re a wonderful person and deserving of a relationship, but we don’t always get what we want or deserve. You don’t get the gold just for participating.

Harsh realism aside, how you turn a fling into a relationship starts with a simple first step: Ask. To start, ask yourself these (or similar) questions:

  • What do I ultimately want my situation to turn into?
  • Do I want more than what I currently have?
  • When do I want my relationship to progress?
  • What do I want my relationship to progress into?

Whatever your answers are will be your goal posts. You can have flexible answers, like say being not all that concerned with a title but more concerned with monogamy. What you shouldn’t do is shift your goal posts based on your partner’s answers. Your answers should be your guide to happiness.

For the next step, ask your partner these (or similar) questions:

  • What do you want out of this?
  • Do you see yourself wanting more than what we are today?
  • Would you be open to entering into a committed relationship with me?
  • If you have doubts are concerns about commitment, what are they?

Here’s why answering your questions first was so important. What you want may not line up with what your partner wants, and in that case you should move on. There are some things you should compromise on, but what you shouldn’t compromise on is your own happiness. If you’re at the point where you want more, and someone isn’t willing to give you what you want, sticking with them will only make you unhappy.

Which brings us to our last step: Accept their answer. If they tell you that they don’t want what you want, accept their answer and move on. If they tell you that they do want what you want, accept their answer and start working on building the relationship you both want.

Good Luck Out There.

Also published on Medium.