Differential Dating

Brittany is redefining again? What else is new. Differential Dating, that’s what.

I remember, once, I was chatting with my best friend’s mom. I mentioned my friend dating her boyfriend and was quickly corrected. Mom told me they’re NOT dating, they’re in a relationship & I would be wise to respect that. I didn’t take offense because mom’s a little particular, but it got me thinking.

What’s the difference?


  • Flirting becoming more individualized
  • Pet names becoming S.O. labels
  • Facebook official-ness

But, like, what’s the REAL difference?

Dating is the act of going on dates, but isn’t particular about with whom. Let’s define some situations:

The start:

Actively Dating – an individual is actively seeking dates with potential partners

The who it happens with:

Exclusively Dating – two, or more, individuals have communicated boundaries for dating specifically within those individuals

Open Dating – two, or more, individuals have communicated boundaries for dating outside those individuals. This is NOT to be confused with cheating.

The how it happens:

In person Dating – two, or more, individuals go on a date physically together

Mechanical Dating – two, or more, individuals go on a date utilizing technology in some form to come together. For example, FaceTime or Webcam dates.

The when it happens:

Speed Dating – an odd practice started in the late 90s to allow individuals who are actively dating to go on far more dates in one night than anyone ever should. Dating is the intimate art of getting to know someone to potentially spend the rest of your life with them. Speed dating can diminish the importance of first dates and first impressions. Unless the event is organized properly you could be overwhelmed by people you have no business dating and have no business dating you. If you want to try speed dating, try to find ones themed by similar interest (music, religion, master’s students, being a divorced parent, etc) this will ensure you and everyone else there have some common ground. Speed dating has been sensationalized in pop culture as a means for men, and sometimes women, gaining confidence by dating a bunch of randos they never intend to talk to you again. (If you’ve ever been that rando or you find yourself in that situation, don’t feel bad they’re insecure af)

Blind Dating – the practice of allowing friends / family to set you up on a date without knowing who the other person is at all. Media has made the idea of blind dating super cringey, but if the people in your life really know you this could be an easy way to find partners without stressing about who to go on a date with.

Double Dating – the practice of going on a date with another couple.

In my opinion, the whole dating vs. in a relationship argument is a matter of preference. I wholeheartedly believe those in a relationship can still date because dating is just the practice of going on dates.

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