Now here’s the thing. I don’t know how many people can relate to this. Is it just a thing that people my age do? And I know a ton of people my age who smoothly transition from ‘talking to’, to dating, to full on relationship, so it can’t even be said that everyone my age is only ‘talking’ instead of dating. Maybe it’s just me and my amaaaaaze luck with the lads x
The thing is, the dating game has evolved and for as long as I’ve been old enough to join in and play, it’s been a completely different game than it was a few years ago, and still seems a bit different to the game that people about ten years older than me are playing (don’t quote me on this, but nobody I know in their mid to late twenties is dealing with this in the same way people I know in my age group are).
You used to date someone, then potentially form a relationship a few dates in. Then, dating became a bit of a serious term so we adopted ‘seeing someone’ and, now, in my experience and the experiences of a lot of people I know, ‘seeing someone’ has even become too serious a term. I have had guys I’ve literally been dating who wouldn’t even classify us as ‘seeing each other’ let alone dating, just ‘talking’. Equally, I’ve had guys I’ve been ‘talking to’ that I’ve felt way more for than the people I’ve actually dated. Why is this a thing?
Labels are annoying af as is, and when every single stage has a label then you want to shy away from that, whether it’s because you don’t wanna look keen, you don’t want to have a label put on things or you don’t want to look like you’re slowly starting to tie yourself down to one person, then a new earlier stage is created, and eventually given a label too, and the cycle repeats itself until one day even glancing at someone in the street is given a label and placed as the first stage in a very long list of romantic endeavours.
At the moment, stage one in said romantic endeavour list seems to be ‘talking to’ someone. You message each other back and forth all the damn time, thus putting each other to the top of your recent texts or DMs or into Snapchat best friends, but technically it is still a normal friendship. Except, both of you (and all your pals that you tell) secretly know that it’s a more-than-friends kinda thing. The problem is when you don’t even progress out of this stage but time still goes by and you’re developing a closer bond, putting more into your conversations, without seeing any return of interest.
I’ve just finished reading Joel Dommett’s new book It’s Not Me, It’s Them. Like literally just finished it last night so now I’m sad because I have nothing to read. First of all I recommend it so so so much, it’s so funny and the way it’s written is very clever – a concept. Anyway, in this book he comes up with something called the ‘companionship scale’ and it works similarly to my idea of what I’ve just named the romantic endeavours list. His companionship scale is as follows:
1. just friends
2. sex friends
3. seeing each other
6. in love
Ok, we’ll try and exclude the latter stages because they aren’t exactly relevant here. But if you add in a stage before sex friends, or just replace it, that stage would be ‘talking’. The problem is, for far too many people, the talking stage is dragged out for way too long or in an extreme case is the furthest stage reached.
I know far too many people, myself included, who have technically only been at number 1 in Joel’s scale but realistically and emotionally been in a place thats somewhere between 4-5. Maybe it’s our fault for picking people who are too scared to progress up the scale, maybe it’s our fault for not trying hard enough ourselves at trying to progress up the scale. Either way, this culture of ‘talking to’ someone is weird af and has given people a comfortable place to stay in rather than jumping to the seeing each other and dating stages and (god forbid!) the relationship and in love stages. It’s the easy way out, you don’t have a total platonic friendship but you’re too scared to progress either because you don’t want labels, don’t want to look like a one-woman man or a one-man woman, or you’re too scared to initiate the movement up the scale.
Being realistic, the ‘talking’ stage has got to exist. I mean, everyone talks, but in a romantic relationship sense it’s talking to each other that allows for the jump between friends and seeing each other. You wouldn’t be talking to someone if you weren’t friends with them, even if they didn’t initially come from your friendship circle you can’t say you aren’t friends if you get on with each other and chat often. The thing is, this ‘stage’ should be quick and seamless, and shouldn’t be labelled as a stage. It should just be where you see the conversation taking a bit of a turn and you know you’re no longer in platonic friendship waters (or that you never were) so after chatting for a bit and getting to know each other, you arrange to do something and end up seeing each other.
It also seems like a bigger waste of time if all you do is ‘talk’ for a year. Take it from me, seriously. At least if you were platonic friends you’ll always have your friendship, at least if you were seeing each other you know you gave it a go. These unchartered waters of ‘talking’ have now become something we use to define where we’re at, perhaps to justify that even though we’re single we do have some sort of guy in our lives with whom we have potential to move up the scale with. It’s an easy thing to fall into when the topic of romantic interests arises. ‘Oh what’s going on with xxxx?’ ‘We’re talking‘, ‘Got anyone new in your life then?’ ‘Well I’m talking to xxxx‘. Worse still, the topic can arise with us being asked if we’re talking to said person.
I’ve just had a thought mid way through writing this post. Is talking in the Urban Dictionary in the sort of context I’m using it here? A very quick Google search tells me it is, with UD defining it as:
When two people are not exclusive with each other nor have established what they are as a couple, but have some sort of relationship.
“John and I go out a lot but we’re just talking.” or “We’ve been talking for months now but we’re not together.”
Wow, we really out here sabotaging ourselves by classing talking as a stage and hanging around in this stage for too long. The second quote example in that has once upon a time been the story of my life and it is not fun, let me tell you.
‘Talking to’ someone has now become a stage, part of the scale, one of the first steps up the ladder to a potential relationship. It’s a good little phrase to use when someone asks you what’s going on with a certain person and ‘talking’ fits the bill, but there’s a very fine line when the overuse of that lil phrase becomes an actual label across a not-relationship. The funny thing is, we hate labels on romantic relationships, but we label every single stage along the way. Now that it’s a stage the only thing we need to make sure of is that it’s a short, sweet, swift transition from getting to know each other over WhatsApp or Snapchat to actually meeting up in person for a date, or even just a ‘shall we do something?’ that you don’t label a date.
If you’re in the ‘talking’ stage and it’s been a good couple months and neither of you have posed the ‘shall we do something?‘ line, or one of you has and the other has declined or made petty excuses, or you followed up on this only to continue with another couple months of just ‘talking’ – get the fuck out. You deserve better. If you’ve tried all you can to get it to progress and you know it’s not just at a halt because the other person is too shy then let it go and stop stressing over something that isn’t even exclusive and is technically just friends. Go and find someone who likes you enough to move straight past ‘talking’ to seeing each other.
Have you ever been stuck in the ‘talking’ stage that so shouldn’t be a stage for a bit too long? Girl, I feel ya.
for something in a similar vein, go read my fuckboys & how to avoid them post. side note – are people who stay in the ‘talking’ stage for too long just fuckboys in disguise?