How Do Couples Become “Official” These Days?
What makes two people who are dating an ‘official couple’ these days, like how do they decide and when do they decide it? It used to be a simple, check yes/ check no passed-note decision; there was some universally-accepted language that applied to every relationship eventually like ‘girlfriend’ and ‘boyfriend’ and ‘will you be my’ and infinite sequences of words which, regrettably, seem juvenile now — to me, at least, and if not to you, then to the future you, the you who has possibly aged out of this official-ask dating ritual, or the you who stopped using looseleaf paper decades ago and so has nothing to draw little square checkboxes on when preparing to pop the first in a series of romantic questions.
I don’t know, it just seems to me that you reach a certain age and you stop asking and start knowing. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a relationship. Do I have that right? That’s fine, I suppose, if you’re on a need-to-know basis and all you really need to know is the exact shape and size of your lover’s fingernail and how smooth it feels beneath the pad of your thumb as you stroke it, how well it manages when scaling your back or entering you, how the finger it’s attached to slips neatly between your own, etcetera, etcetera. Knowing all that, do you really need to know which title, or name, or label he uses when he tells his mother about you?
Maybe. What do I know, anyway? More of what I don’t know is, so if you don’t talk much about it, about titles and things, how do you know know? Is it in a kiss squeeze look hug sigh Like embrace stare peck fuck Poke stroke rub laugh cumshot Retweet? Which of these moments of recognition solidifies a relationship? Am I leaving something out or is it naive to think that just one fleeting moment makes something unofficial, official? What if, one day, one of you begins to use relationship words, ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ and all that, and neither of you object and so you just continue on, unfazed by the way these words have crept into your bed? Is that how you do it? What makes two people who are dating an ‘official couple’ these days?
Don’t say Facebook.
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If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”