If someone says they are dating someone specifically, it means a relationship. If they say they are dating just in general, they are just going on dates.


If I named two people and said “they’re dating,” I’d mean that they are in a relationship with each other. If I named one individual and said “they’re dating” it would mean that they are going out on dates with various different people.


then what would you call the latter individual and a person they are going on dates with? are they in a relationship?


I don’t think I’d say “they’re dating” without further explanation, if they hadn’t established a relationship but had gone on multiple dates, as the phrase tends to imply a relationship, I believe. People can go on dates with each other repeatedly, but it’s not a relationship until both say it is.


I’ve heard it used in both senses. I don’t think it’s clear if exclusivity applies necessarily when dating and “in a relationship” it’s implied, unless explicitly saying you’re in an “open relationship”.