The Dating Game

So, one of my best friends and I had an argument at work today. We were debating whether or not there’s a difference between “dating exclusively” and “being in a relationship.” I say yes. She says no. So I promised her I’d write a blog post today explaining the different stages of “dating” in 2014. And, let’s be honest, most of them suck.

You’re talking. You’ve been texting and, if it’s really serious, maybe even snapchatting. When your friends ask why you’re smiling at your phone like an idiot, you respond with, “Oh, it’s nobody. We’re just talking.” As the “talking” stage progresses, you might start getting those coveted “good morning” texts everyone always talks about. You might start to just assume that you’ll talk to him/her every day. But it’s still nothing. You’re just talking. 

You’re hooking up. This is the “sex only” stage. No sleepovers. No breakfast. No introducing him/her to your friends. (Remember that episode of How I Met Your Mother when Barney sets out the rules you must follow to avoid making someone your girlfriend? The ones that are the same as the rules for gremlins? It’s very important to follow those rules during this stage.)

You’re seeing each other. You’ve gone out to eat a couple of times – yes, in public – but probably just to lunch or drinks because breakfast and supper are way too serious for this stage. You meet up at the bars when you’re out and just kind of know that you’re going home with each other. You aren’t exclusive, but you aren’t not exclusive, either (and it really is that confusing, so good luck with this stage). 

You’re dating. Now, this is where my aforementioned friend and I disagree. Once you’re in the dating stage, it’s assumed that you’re exclusive – maybe you’ve even had The Talk and agreed upon it, if you’re really adult about the situation. You’ve probably met his/her best friend once or twice, but no family members. You aren’t in a relationship yet, though, because you haven’t had that Talk. Which is different from the exclusivity talk. Maybe you’re exclusive but you’re just “seeing where it goes.” You don’t want to see other people, but you aren’t quite ready to commit to a relationship yet, either.

You’re a couple. You’ve done it. You’re in a real, grown-up, I’m-all-in, FBO relationship. You made it through the four awful stages preceding this one and have decided that you might as well give a relationship a try. If you can make it through all the I’m-in-jk-I’m-out, what-are-we pre-relationship shitstorm, you’re probably in good shape. 

It was so much easier when a boy could pull your hair, tell you that he thought you were cute and give you a ring from a quarter machine. So, future suitors, bring me a quarter-machine-ring and I’m yours.

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