How Long Should You Know Someone Before Dating?

A woman texting on her phone How long should you talk to someone before dating? There are a few factors to consider to help you decide.

Think back to all the times you’ve been on dates. Did you know the person you were dating beforehand? How much did you really know each other before deciding to have dinner together on a Friday evening?

Dating is about getting to know someone. It’s about determining whether or not someone is a person with whom one can, and should, spend time with in a romantic context. It’s about whether or not a person is safe enough to be vulnerable around.

But dating as we know it today is a relatively new practice. Historians trace the first use of the word “dating” to the 1890s.

Before that, in the olden days, this was courtship.

Part of the courtship was a period of time wherein a prospective couple would make each other’s acquaintance and get to know each other so they’d be able to determine whether or not to start a relationship. Maybe they’d start with something akin to a friendship to test out their compatibility.

How Long Should You Know Someone Before Getting Romantic?

This courtship stage would be people exchanging letters and maybe hanging out in groups. This would allow them to build up their familiarity with each other and basically get to know the other person. Nowadays, it’s very similar except that letter writing has been supplanted by text messaging – though, they still hang out in group settings. Oh, and it’s called the talking stage now.

Sometimes, people can be friends for years before they see each other in a romantic light. Other times, two people can meet and know instantly that they’re meant to be. So, how long should you talk to someone before dating them?

A couple smiling at each other Get to a baseline level of familiarity with each other before you date.

The truth is that there is no hard and fast rule about how long this stage should last. It varies from couple to couple and even between the people within that couple, but there are a few factors that two people should consider before they take that next step and become romantically involved. These milestones can be hit in a single conversation or they may take years to get through.

You may find yourself wanting to rush through the talking stage. You’ve got strong feelings for a person and you want to be in a relationship with them because you’re sure that your feelings are reciprocated. You don’t want to waste time with a talking stage when you could be in a relationship already because you feel that everything is in place for a relationship.

Mulling over these factors may seem tedious and may seem arbitrary at times, but they’re necessary in order to determine whether or not to pursue a relationship. These variables are why the talking stage is so important.

But you may want to hold your horses. Here are a few factors that can help determine how date-ready you are:


The reason that the talking stage is so important is, as the name would suggest, communication. In any strong relationship, be it familial, romantic, professional, or platonic, the ability to communicate with one another is the foundation. This helps two people learn the ways in which the other communicates their thoughts and feelings.

Being able to communicate your wants and needs to the other person is an important factor in making sure that those wants and needs are met. When wants and needs are met, the relationship remains happy.

In a romantic context, this would be speaking each other’s love languages. If one person’s love language is physical touch but the other is not affectionate by nature, then that’s a relationship that’s not likely to last, unless the first person communicates to their partner that they need physical affection and they’re able to reach a compromise that satisfies both.

This is also important to establish mutual goals in a relationship. For example, one person may not believe in marriage as an institution but it might be important for the other person. Or maybe one person wants only one child and the other wants a whole brood of children running around. These are both things that need to be communicated before any lasting commitments are made to each other.


There’s also general compatibility. Two people can have the same goals and have great communication skills. That doesn’t necessarily translate to compatibility. Sometimes, two people can get along great while having nothing in common.

Conversely, two can have the exact same personality, basically be the same person, and still not get along. Or two people can get along just fine but simply can’t make it work romantically.

So the talking stage, or courtship, or whatever you want to call it is necessary in order to gauge how compatible two people are before they enter a relationship. Keep in mind that it can last quite a while.

Gauging romantic compatibility isn’t an exact science and there are a lot of intangibles at play.

But just because they may not seem all that compatible at the outset doesn’t mean they’re not. Maybe one or both of them are introverted and take a while to warm up to a new person.

It’s not just the compatibility of their personalities that needs to be gauged, it’s also how compatible their lives are. Two people may have the same long-term goals, but they might be in different stages of achieving those goals.

Couple bonding and smiling Take the time you need to get to know a person before moving to the next stage.

They may both want to get from Point A to Point Z, but one person may be languishing at Point D and the other is already at Point Y. So the talking stage is going to be important so they’ll know if they can deal with how far apart they are. Can the first person catch up and can the second person wait for them to catch up?


One other factor to consider that’s more important than length of time in the talking stage is friendship. This may seem somewhat backwards. After all, most people think that being in a romantic relationship is a step above friendship.

But that’s not always the case. Some of the best relationships don’t just start out as friendships, they’re also the ones wherein the people in them remain friends even after they start dating.

This is because a couple is going to spend a lot of time socializing with each other, so having that friendship present before and during the relationship can make that time a lot easier for them. Basically, being friends will help a couple have fun with each other.

Getting Out of the Talking Stage

Because of how nebulous a talking stage can be, getting out of it can prove difficult. There’s no real guidebook, no step-by-step process, to get out of the talking stage. That said, there are a few ways to start pushing the relationship in a more concrete, romantic direction.


One way to get out of the talking stage is to start flirting. Sure, there may already be a flirtatious element to the relationship, but ramping it up is a good indicator that one person is ready to take the next step. Eye contact and a few compliments should put a decidedly amorous bent to conversations.

Casual Dates/Hanging Out Alone

Another way to slowly creep out of the talking stage is to make plans to hang out alone with them. Not full-on dates like dinner and a movie, but casual hang outs to test the waters and demonstrate your viability as a romantic pairing. Things like going to a museum and getting coffee, for example, are great ideas to hang out casually.

Make sure these dates happen during the day because going out during the day is more casual than going out at night. Keep in mind that not all daytime dates are casual. For example, picking apples at an orchard may occur during the day, but given the time commitment involved, it’s anything but casual.

Just Say So

Honesty is the best policy, or so they say so. If you have feelings for someone and you feel like you’ve laid the groundwork well enough, then it’s time to just say outright that you want the relationship to be more romantic in nature. Tell the person that you’ve got feelings and hope they reciprocate enough to at least consider the possibility.

It can be a scary thing to say outright that you want a romantic relationship with someone. The specter of rejection hangs overhead. Or maybe they want a relationship as well, they’re just not ready and rushing things put you back at square one.

But letting something simmer can also mean letting it wither. You don’t want to make the mistake of taking so long to set something up that you miss it entirely.

Some people think that the length of time getting to know a person is the deciding factor in whether or not a relationship is successful. That’s not always the case. You could spend years getting to know a person and they’ll never open up to you, so you’ll never really know them.

Conversely, you could have one conversation with a person and know their whole life story. So, how long should you talk to someone before dating them? As long or as short as you need to. It’s not the length of the time that’s important, it’s the quality of how it’s spent.

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