Solving the Mystery: What’s Your Relationship Status?

smiling couple standing on city street

In today’s dating world, it can be tricky to work out where you stand with a new significant other – is it casual, committed or complicated? It’s easy to get dazed and confused trying to figure out what your relationship status actually is. As a leading source of dating and relationship advice, we’ve done our research; here are the answers.

Confusing Conundrum: Types of Relationship Status

In the ‘good, old days’, it was relatively easy to define your relationship status. Following the conventions of your civil status, you could select Married, Single, Divorced or Widowed without too much complication. However, as the dating landscape has evolved and changed, it has resulted in a wider spectrum for speculation.

Between a plethora of new dating terms, the influence of easy to access dating apps and differing intentions and motivations for relationships, it can create a grey area of uncertainty about where you stand in your relationship.

Modern Relationship Statuses

We put together a list of some of the most popular terms for relationship statuses today and what they mean. Let’s take a closer look below:

We’re hanging out

Usually at the very early stages of dating, it’s not yet official or exclusive but you’ve seen each other more than once, are spending time together and are chatting.

We’re seeing each other

This is a little more serious than hanging out, but probably not yet defined as a relationship. You’ve both admitted you like each other and aren’t actively trying to meet someone new.

We’re dating

This term alone has a wide range of interpretations but generally you’ve regularly been seeing each other over a period of time with the intention of having a more committed relationship.

We’re in a relationship

You’ve been dating for some time and now use terms such as ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’. It’s committed and you’re both clear that you have chosen each other as partners and want to be together in a relationship.

Put a ring on it

Either you or they have popped the question! It’s official – you’re engaged or married. The relationship is signed, sealed and delivered and now you can get on creating your happily ever after together.

It’s complicated

Made infamous by Facebook, ‘it’s complicated’ means you and your partner have some figuring out to do. Usually accompanies a tempestuous relationship that has all the fire and chemistry but not the stability needed for a healthy relationship.

On a break

Not quite the same as a break-up – it’s an intentional pause in a relationship when both or one of the parties need to work out some issues, how they feel and touch base with themselves. Usually takes place under the overarching framework of a relationship.

Actively single

Being single is an active and conscious decision to take some time out and not engage with the dating spectrum. It’s all about you and reconnecting with yourself, treating yourself right and taking some ‘me time’.

Single and ready to mingle

This is all about being single and getting out there for a great time. You’re on the prowl and looking for a match or a catch. It can be fun, it can be tough, but you get to make own rules and live your best life – whatever that means to you!

Friends with benefits

Consider it a spicy friendship – there is no romantic relationship at play, but there is some hot chemistry that spilled over into a physical interaction between two friends. Can get complicated if one party develops feelings, but this set up allows you to enjoy the perks of a physical relationship without the commitment and emotional complication.

Open relationship

Almost the opposite of friends with benefits, this type of relationship offers the emotional connection and commitment of a monogamous relationship, but it is open to alternative sexual partners. It’s most successful when both partners share the same relationship goals and preferences.

It can be a minefield out there navigating the types of dating relationships, but also today you can be afforded more freedom than ever before to define and craft the exact type of relationship status you desire.

How to Define Your Relationship Status

If you’re still trying to figure out where you stand in your relationship, here’re a few key guidelines to review.


Are you the bee’s knees behind closed doors but not out on the town? Public displays of affection go a long way to showing you how your significant other regards your relationship – is it important/stable/real enough to be on display, or is kept behind closed doors only?

Time period

How long has this been a thing? It’s good to be realistic about the timing of your liaison. If it’s only a matter of a few days, maybe it needs some time to come to fruition but if it’s been lingering back and forth a few months, maybe it’s time to have ‘The Talk’ and decide where you’re both heading.

Level of Commitment

Have you spoken at all about the future? Do you make plans for the time to come or is it all about right now? Committing to someone usually requires a conscious choice to let them become part of your regular life and future. Have you planned a vacation together? Did you get a key? Have you started buying food for each other’s places? Look for these small but clear signs of a full-blown relationship unfurling!


Have you met each other’s friends or family? If you’re at the point of going for Sunday lunch with the parents, your relationship status should be pretty secure and evident. As two individuals transition from singles to a couple, their lives integrate in both big and small ways. Are there terms of endearment you use for each other? Is there an extra toothbrush at his place? Or on the other hand, are you both clear to not leave any space for overlap into each other’s lives? The level of integration into each other’s lives can be a clear indicator of the status of your relationship.

What’s the Next Step for Your Current Relationship Status?

Understanding where you’re at with your bae is best achieved by having ‘The Talk’. After some time, having an honest and open conversation and checking in with where you’re both at can be the most useful next step. If it’s bothering you, you don’t have anything to lose! Put it on the table and have a frank chat, so you can get on with it, get on the same page, with the same intention, and enjoy your new connection!

About the author: Zoe Coetzee

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