While having a much needed girls’ night with one of my besties, we inevitably transitioned from venting about our work week frustrations to discussing our ever changing and utterly confusing romantic engagements. She is dating a guy who is blatantly in love with her but dances around the topic saying everything but those three little words. They see each other more than once a week, are exclusively sexually involved with one another (which he refers to as making love), and they have plans set as far as six months into the future…however, he does not call her his girlfriend and does not refer to them as dating.
I mean, what is dating…really? Some people think you can’t use the term until you are explicitly girlfriend and boyfriend, making it synonymous with in a relationship. Others use it to define a scenario in which essentially you have been on one or more dates with a certain person and you believe that there will be more to come. Of course, there is just the general sense of “going on a date”, which could be used the very first time you have a face to face meeting with a person with the understanding that there is mutual attraction or at least the potential for mutual attraction. Dating is one of those words that falls in the category of “hooking up” since the connotation varies from person to person. To some it’s sex but to others it’s a kiss and it really can fall into the whole gambit in between.
So, this again begs the question, what is dating? Well, to me, it can be any of the things above. However, what I am looking for when I say I want to date a certain someone or be in a relationship, that’s a different story. In the most abridged, uncouth terms it is someone who hangs out with me on a somewhat regular basis, who is a friend, and who provides me with regular sex but is not sleeping with anyone else. I’m not going to ask for more than that, the other niceties should come naturally if the partnership is right. I once was dating a guy (in the sense of going out with him with the intent of going out again) who didn’t want a relationship for a number of commitment-phobic reasons—one being that he didn’t want to have to text me during the day. Daytime technological small talk is not in the dictionary definition of dating and it isn’t in most girls’ rule books either. Yes, it would be nice to know they are thinking of you, know what they are doing, and get a momentary break from an exhausting, stressful work day. However, this is something one should do because they want to, not because they feel required to.
A relationship isn’t about obligations and is not an exchanging of mutual coercions. It is something that starts small with getting to know one another and becoming comfortable together that evolves into an innate desire to communicate more and spend time with one another. We don’t jump into hanging out in one another’s social circles and travel home to meet parents, we progress to want these things as our comfort level and feelings grow…if they grow. The reality is, most of the time, it doesn’t get this far. Most experiences with dating involve a couple dinners in which you see if your social skills, lifestyles, and personalities mesh and, if there is attraction, you progress to higher levels of physicality and explore how sexually compatible you are with each other. Oftentimes, we are ambivalent and thus he or she is not the one and we move on. So, what is dating…really? Ultimately, it is having a friend whom you have semi-regular to regular sex with, who doesn’t bang anyone else…anything beyond this is up to the people involved.