There are many different types of a dating relationship. There is the first-date relationship, where a couple has their first romantic time together. There is also casual dating, a relationship where you romantically see the other person for fun. If you are more interested in the person, you date exclusively, meaning you don't see other people romantically. If you date someone long-distance, it means you are exclusive with him despite the fact you are in geographically different regions. The most serious type of dating is the long-term relationship, when you date someone for a year or longer. This type of dating usually leads to marriage or another form of commitment.
The time frame for each of these types of dating varies depending on the couple and individuals involved. Sometimes a couple may move to the serious exclusive stage of dating after only one date, or they may be involved in dating long-distance for many years. The time frame is really decided on what feels best for the couple and what their specific situation allows.
The biggest consideration people need to make before they begin dating is whether they are mentally in a good place to be in a relationship with another person. People who are just recovering from break-ups, difficult personal or family situations or know they are not interested in looking for a long-term commitment should avoid dating in any other capacity than casually. If you are interested in a relationship, you should also consider whether your intended partner is also in a good mental place for a relationship.
One common misconception about dating suggests that all people who date are sexually active. This is not true--a person may date, meet new people and experience a romantic connection on any level without engaging in sexual activity with his partner. Furthermore, being sexually active is an individual choice and young people should not feel pressured into making decisions before they are ready just because of this common misconception.
Dating and opening yourself up to a relationship may end in disappointment, anger or heartbreak. Whenever you involve yourself in a romantic relationship with another person, you are making yourself available to be hurt. On the other side, being in a relationship requires responsibility and honesty on your end as well.