What is dating?
There are two types of dating: Exclusive and Non-Exclusive.
Non-Exclusive: Spending time with someone to figure out the type of characteristics you would eventually like to have in a future spouse.
Is there a large commitment here? Nope. It’s important to socialize with members of the opposite sex and you can do this by going out with a large group of your friends, (which helps to take the awkwardness out of the situation).
The great thing about non-exclusive dating is it allows you to begin a spouse-maker and spouse-breaker list. A spouse-maker list is a list of all the essential characterists you need in your future spouse. A spouse-breaker list is a list of the characteristics you cannot have in your future spouse. For example, you observe a guy cussing his mom out on the phone. Well...that might be an important characteristic to avoid in a boyfriend.
Forming a list of spouse-breaker and spouse-maker characteristics will save you from wasting time and energy on jerks.
Exclusive Dating: Clearly devoting yourself to a single person; with the mutual goal of determining whether or not you are called to marry one another.
Is there a commitment here? Yes. You have both clearly stated your intentions to exclusively be together. Your job now is to determine whether or not you are called to the vocation of marriage.
If you feel called to marry this person: Get engaged! Don't drag the relationship on for 20 years without committing.
If you're not in a position to get engaged: You need to examine why you’re exclusively discerning marriage with someone. Are you just using them? Be mindful of the temptation to use one another out of insecurity.
If you're not called to marry this person: Break it off. Don't drag the relationship on because you're afraid of being alone or breaking up. Breaking up is difficult enough by itself, but living together and being sexually active make it immensely harder. If you are serious about finding love; post-pone those activities till marriage. After all, the only way your boyfriend should earn access to your body is through his actions on the altar.
If you're not sure whether or not you're called to marriage: Continue the exclusive dating process. Beware of the things that can blur your vision(i.e. pre-marital sex and living together). Pre-marital sexual activity and cohabitation can cloud the decision-making processes. If you have fallen into sexual activity with this person it's not too late to turn things around. The only way to ensure you have authentic love is by pursuing sexual purity with your boyfriend or girlfriend.