I'm currently sitting on my bed, wearing ugg boots & a hoodie, eating my third donut & watching Dawson's Creek - so maybe I'm the last person who should be writing about dating, but here I am anyway.
I'm not the most experienced dater. I was in a long term relationship that had its beginnings in high school. I rebounded from that into a relationship in university that ended violently. Physically violently. Back to the high school boyfriend and, other than a few hiccups, off periods and frogs along the way, I was with him until 2010. We even bought a house together. Since that long term relationship ended, I've only called one other person my boyfriend.
Now that I am dating, I have found myself stumbling through a veritable minefield of mistakes that a single girl can make. These vary from making assumptions about the guy's intentions, failing to define things and not knowing how to extricate myself from situations that are probably my own unwitting doing. And boy, have I had some adventures! The simple truth is, I have no idea what I'm doing!
Have you heard the saying "You don't know what you don't know"? That's very true. I didn't know that I didn't know how to date until I tried to do it. But the thing is, I'm not sure anyone actually does! Because there are certain words that apply when you are dating - terms that you will use throughout the course of your budding relationship - and nobody knows what the hell they actually mean! The meanings people can apply to the same words is so ambiguous. Two people can mutually agree on a term, and that's fine, but more often than not, their interpretation of that term is not even in the same sport, let alone ballpark. So I am going to define them, here and now. And this will be the universal truth that these terms actually mean.
From single to boyfriend / girlfriend
Single: This means you do not have a boyfriend or girlfriend. You may or may not be open to the idea of potentially having one, but you will be upfront about this. Every person who may be interested in having you as a boyfriend / girlfriend will be aware of your feelings on this subject as you will have been clear with them. But if you are not content to be in this state, do not proceed to the next one! This is very important!
A date: 'A first date' shall be defined as the initial scheduled meeting of two people who are basically auditioning each other to be a steady sexual partner with emotional investments; and a view to carry out said arrangement on a permanent basis and potentially co-habit and maybe even procreate while sharing a surname.
There will be certain indicators that you are on a date. Most, if not all, of these will apply.
- You will have paid careful attention to what you are wearing, what you smell like, how smooth your legs are / face is and will specifically avoid talking about topics such as exes, crazy penchants and weird medical histories.
- You will be nervous about who pays for what on this occasion and it will inevitably lead to a bit of a debate. You will judge the other person based on the viewpoints shared and eventual outcome of this debate.
- You will make a huge effort to be engaging, witty and delightful in the presence of the other person.
- You will be hoping the other person kisses you.
- You will be eager to tell someone (probably a member of the same sex) about whatever transpires. Depending on your gender, there will probably be either giggling or high fives. Maybe even both. Who am I to judge?
- If it goes well, you will want to do it all over again. Note: If you do repeat this with the same person, it will be called 'a second date'.
If you find yourself scheduling something that looks like this, stop looking like a tool or a complete try-hard and call it by its correct name! It's a date. Suck it up. If it's not a date, do not expect anything that even remotely resembles sex to ever eventuate. You lost that privilege when you refused the term 'date'.
Dating: After going on more than three 'dates', you will be deemed to be dating. Counting the dates out loud after this point is a bit weird, but note that you still need to mentally keep a tally of the dates.
'Dating' means you have an unspoken agreement that you will go on another 'date' and usually comes into play after the third date is mutually agreed to have been pleasant for both parties. Spending time together is becoming less nerve-wracking and you are starting to settle into being yourself but you are still considering your options. You may be dating more than one person at this time - but this is the last chance to do so if you are to progress further with this person.
Seeing someone: That mental tally of dates you have been keeping but not really talking about anymore? When that number has reached eight, you stop saying 'dating' and now refer to 'seeing someone'. If you have lost count, use this cheat: If your first date was over two months ago but you have seen each other regularly in the interim, you should now be using the term 'seeing someone'.
The term 'seeing someone' can be broken down rather simply. You are 'seeing', as in regularly viewing (perhaps in varying states of undress), one person. Note the 'one'? As in singular? You should only reach this benchmark with one person at a time. Note: If you do not wish to proceed to the 'seeing someone' stage, stop the 'seeing' part. This will avoid confusion for both parties.
Relationship: There will come a point during the period of 'seeing someone' that you decide that you have been exponentially satisfied with the previous months. This one person has started to spend time at your house and vice versa, rather than always on neutral ground such as a cinema or a restaurant. It's not awkward if they stay overnight. You've met some of their friends. There are starting to be expectations born from precedents set out over the last few months. If you don't have specific plans on a Saturday night, it is assumed you will spend it together. If they come over yours in the evening, you now expect that they will stay the night. And things would probably be easier if you could leave a spare toothbrush on their bathroom sink.
You are now about to be in a 'relationship' and should soon start using this term. If more than four months have passed since that 'first date', you need to immediately have a discussion with the other person. Especially if you are the guy. This is like the probationary period at a new job. You were expected to carry out your duties and showed up to work on time. But an evaluation still needs to be conducted with a manager before you become a fully-fledged employee. Your individual reviews and expectations will be laid out and a decision whether or not the arrangement is mutually beneficial will be agreed upon. If the outcome is in the affirmative, you have reached the level of 'relationship'.
Anecdote: I haven't had many official boyfriends - and hardly any in my adult life - but my favourite beginning of an official would have to be my most recent ex. I was driving to his house from his friend's. He was in the passenger seat and suddenly said, "If we were officially in a relationship, other than our relationship status on Facebook, would anything really change?" I thought for a moment before replying, "No, not really." "Cool," he said. "Let's do that then." See? It doesn't have to be a giant stress.
Boyfriend / girlfriend: Now that you are in a relationship, you can finally use the terms 'boyfriend and / or girlfriend'. You may only have one of these at a time! I cannot stress this enough. This is the holy grail of the dating experience. By this point, if you both aren't happy to use these terms, get out now! You are wasting the time of the other person and that is absolutely not fair. Other than that, it is like playing Monopoly but all the properties have been bought. Everything else is either by negotiation or just runs its course. And who knows how or when it will end?
Going out: This means you are 15. And in high school. You have never actually gone out anywhere at all but you are free to use the term boyfriend and girlfriend. You will also have written their name all over your student diary surrounded by love-hearts. And this will be in whiteout since it's the only way to see anything written over the permanent marker you used to scribble out the name of the last person you were 'going out' with.
Catch up: I use the term 'catch up' a lot. I live overseas and with a huge time difference, it is so hard to keep up to date with the people I love the most. I'll text my girlfriend, "OMG! haven't chatted to you in ages! We need to catch up!" Because 'catch up' means to run over everything that has happened since I last saw / spoke to someone. So why have guys (And I definitively use the plural) texted me suggesting we should catch up?
This outburst was prompted by an arrangement of what should have been called "a first date":
Well 15 hours later he texted me and we arranged to "catch up" tonight - my first available night thanks to working all the time. But what does that even mean, "Catch up"? Catch up on what? Everything that happened since last Wednesday? Or maybe the last 27 years when we hadn't known the other existed? "I was born in 1985, on a warm Spring morning..." What a stupid thing to say.
From now on, if a guy asks to "catch up" I'm going to assume he has gossip for me and subsequently has no interest in me as a female.
So there you have my no-nonsense dating dictionary. Now if we can all agree to stick to these definitions, it would make life easier for everybody involved!
Miss SAMawdsley xx
- Do you agree with my definitions?
- What dating terms do you need defined?
- Has the ambiguity of dating terms ever caused you confusion or heartache?