Sometimes the scariest thing about dating is the moment you decide that you actually like someone.

People get way too nervous about the first date. Those excruciating moments after you prop yourself up at the bar or sit at an empty table, eyes fixated on the door, waiting for ‘the one’, are actually not so bad in hindsight. You might feel a bit sick and almost dizzy with nerves, but the adrenaline generally makes the first date flash by, like a movie montage.

“What’s far, far more terrifying is the moment when you realise that you actually really like someone. And that maybe you want them all to yourself.”

It was easy back in ‘the olden days’, whenever they were. The days when you were expected to marry the offspring of your parents’ best friends, or when ‘commitment issues’ were not par for the course. If you liked someone, you courted them, you dated them, and it was as simple as that. You were exclusive. You were dating. No confusion. No chaos. It was all about the choosing, and less about the cruising.

These days it’s a different story. The world of dating is one big grey area, and there seem to be an ever-increasing number of words used to describe the seemingly endless levels. Are you seeing each other? Are you friends with benefits? You hear all kinds of madness used to describe what, surely, is just a relationship. “Oh, we’re just, you know, having fun,” someone might say, to which you should reply “Well, that’s great, but are they ‘having fun’ with anyone else?”

Exclusivity is not to be expected these days – it’s something you almost need to set down as a rule, like ‘no novelty underwear’ or ‘never cook that weird pork stew again’.

“Unless you have The Conversation, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. So – when is the right moment?”

Let’s be honest, that would be incredibly creepy on a first date. You’re not yourself – you’re a strange warped, twisted version of a very familiar personality. You’ll tell a weird anecdote. You’ll misjudge the distance between your fork/glass and your mouth and will have to do some humiliating napkin damage control. These are just standard first date blunders that either make somebody warm to you considerably, or cause an inward cringe that ensures you’ll never see each other again. So, not the time to bring up any serious long-term plans.

The second date is a different matter, however. If you’ve successfully navigated through another three hours of this person’s company then it’s time to start thinking about what it would be like to exclusively date them. Just let the thought gently linger in your mind. Remember what it’s like to be in a relationship. How would you feel about listening to them sing along to the radio in the car? Would you wear their socks in an emergency? If you heard them mumbling weird stuff in their sleep would you think it was cute or creepy?

This is the stuff that really matters, surely. Yeah, fine, sex is one thing. Lifetime goals are another. But you’ll know pretty early on if your date is the kind of person you could endure during a hangover, and that is a strong indicator as to whether you want them to be your significant other.

So, here we are. The Conversation. It might not happen on the second date. It might not even happen on the tenth date.

“If you have that little feeling that you could share your imperfections with this person then you might want to start preparing for it.”

Everyone has a different approach. Personally, I usually take the lead and have initiated everything from demanding phone calls (“You’re my boyfriend now, ok? I told my parents”) to romantic clichés (“I don’t think I ever need to sleep with anyone else, ever again.”) to awkward mumblings (“So like, does this mean, like, are we… did you want to… I LOVE YOU.”)

Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t. My advice would be to go with your gut, you’ll know when the time is right, and I have a sneaky suspicion it might have something to do with those first, fleeting second date fantasies coming back to haunt you.

For more advice head back to our dating section, or read more of our dating blogs!