Every relationship starts off casually, filled with worries about whether your initial attraction will last. But if things go well, you'll soon want to define the relationship, so that you can start planning a future together and develop trust.
So there comes a day -- usually after no more than three months or so -- when you need to decide whether to be exclusive.
That's harder these days. Because dating in our digital world means having way more options than ever before. So people can be reluctant to get serious.
But it's definitely time to think about exclusivity if you've already started referring to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend, either to one another or to your mates. And your couple selfies are getting dozens of likes from both sets of friends.
It's time if you're losing the urge to respond to that invitation from along the bar. And you're swiping left a lot more. It's not that there's anything wrong with those people, it's just that you're no longer interested in starting something new.
You're probably also looking after yourself way better. Because you don't want your date to be attracted by anyone else.
You're genuinely excited to see each other, and your face is giving you away. Instead of the polite face you give to everyone else, you give each other full-on smiles.
Singles pack their weekends with activities. You're more relaxed, because you know you'll be together. And that's all you want.
You make plans using 'we.' And there're two toothbrushes in your bathroom. One-night-stands and casuals can delay the dental hygiene in the morning.
But two toothbrushes means you're an item!
You're anxious not to let each other down. You've resolved never to be late, and try extra hard to communicate really well. You're way past "playing it cool", and all those bizarre dating rules.
Your conversations have moved on from movies, current affairs and sport, and are getting deeper.
Now the emotional stuff's coming to the surface. Your childhoods, families, hopes and dreams. Everything.
The first few dates, you spent all your time trying to be perfect. And worried that your feelings couldn't be real. You waited for the lies, and expecting that you'd go off each other. But it didn't happen.
You had your first row and sorted it all out. If there was nothing between you, you'd have given up and gone straight back out there. But you're still feeling good about each other after your first fight. So it's time to ditch the others and delete the apps.
And somehow you feel OK about the idea of "having the talk". The thought of a serious discussion around "where is this relationship going" hasn't caused a sudden urge to ghost. And you sense your partner feels the same. They squeeze your hand a little harder, look at you a certain way, and you're feeling happy about it.
So it's time. What are you waiting for?