Moving a hook-up to a relationship

So you've been seeing a certain someone for a while now - it's going great, the butterflies flutter when that someone calls, you have no interest in looking elsewhere, you want to put a label on it, change your Facebook status and announce to the rooftops that you're no longer single.

But how do you approach "that" conversation about going from "casual to committed" without them disappearing quicker than cake at a kids' party?

The reality is there's still a level of game-playing when it comes to dating in our society; while many of us do try to keep things on the level, others still feel the need to adhere to the so-called "rules" (whatever they are).

A male friend of mine recently confessed he'd almost blown a relationship due to his inability early on to express his feelings.

While in his head he saw her in his future, during their time together he was too concerned about voicing how he really felt in case of rejection, or worse, admitting he was actually falling in love with this woman.

His story is not uncommon … nor is it gender specific. So why is it we have a deep-seated fear of expressing what we really feel and want?

Putting your heart on the line is never easy, but surely there is a way to safely make the precarious move from hooking up, to hanging out, to having the talk and removing the fear that clouds the "R" word?

Chiara Atik, the author of Modern Dating: A Field Guide, presents some sensible and realistic scenarios that are good indicators that your special someone is well on the way to becoming Mr/Ms Right:

■ The first time you don't schedule weekend plans - that seamless transition between having to wait till mid-week to ask "What are you up to this weekend?" and it being a given that you're going to hang out.

■ The first time you meet each other's friends - make no mistake, meeting each other's friends is a big deal.

■ The first time you see each other "au naturel" - you've probably already seen each other "strategically naked"with the sanctuary of sheets, pillows, dim lighting and natural-looking make-up (which you sneakily re-apply in the bathroom, ladies). This is seeing each other naked naked for the first time - the unruly hair, blotchy skin, stubble and sans make-up (for the women), means you're pretty darn comfortable with each other.

■ The first time you see each other really drunk. They get sick, apologise, pass out … and you still like them in the morning? It's love!

■ The first time you talk about your exes. Talking about your dating histories shows that you care about the person enough to hear all the gory details of their dating life and are mature enough to accept it.

■ Seeing each other sick. Letting someone see you that way (and conversely not being turned off by seeing someone that way) is a good sign that things are getting serious.

■ The first time you just go to sleep. Sharing a bed with someone takes some getting used to. If you're willingly doing that and are not even hooking up, you must really like each other.

■ The first fight. If you survive that, rest assured both of you are committed to seeing where this relationship takes you.

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