Kind Of, Sort Of Dating, Maybe?

Are we supposed to be dating? Or are we more like good friends? Special buddies? No, not special buddies, that just sounds awkward. Hmm, maybe this is just about hooking up mostly. So like, are we one of those whatever with benefits type deals?

If you have to ask yourself those types of question, you’re probably treading in dangerous waters. When it comes to relationships or dating arrangements, details should typically be pretty clear-cut if those involved have unswerving sentiments. These things can’t end well with hesitance or indecision. And I know, some people say that they are just fine with strictly physical connections, but far too often those result in the development of feelings and one or both sides getting a shank to the heart.

Does anything break more young hearts in this day and age than the unclear, we-like-each-other-but-not-enough-to-put-it-on-Facebook, vague connections? So many people are involved in them and they’re typically unhappy and/or unsatisfied. Because the having sex, or hanging out together part only lasts for so long, then there’s all the time in between to think about wanting more from them.

It’s similar to when you’re spaced out driving and the green light abruptly turns yellow, but you’re too close to make a sudden stop and too far away to coast through the light easily. It’s uncomfortable as hell but the one thing a driver can’t do in such a scenario is continue moving at the same pace. A decision must be made — and a firm one, at that. When dating it’s the same scenario. A choice is necessary; either slam on the brakes and come to a screeching halt or put the pedal to the metal and power through quickly. Sadly it’s far more common to move forward indecisively and get smacked by love in the intersection, with the force of a semi truck.

So why don’t people stop when they know they’re in between dating? Well if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s not because we don’t know what to do. In fact, we know damn well what we should do. The truth is you still want their attention, don’t want them to end up elsewhere, straight up hate being alone, or something of that nature. We’re weak, we’re in need, we’re in the moment — but most of all, we’re human.

Yes, it’d be awesome if we had knobs installed on our bodies that allowed us to adjust our emotions with a simple twist, but that type of technology doesn’t exist. It’s easy for and expected of friends to tell you that you should quit in between-ing. That you should sever ties and wait for someone who will fully value and commit to you. The thing is, they’re probably hypocrites. Not in a bad way, they mean well and are giving you the right advice, but nobody actually follows their own instructions — especially not when they’re so challenging to abide by. It requires a great deal of willpower to take the scissors, cut the cord and avoid ever having a relapse during a moment of weakness.

The other option is going full force and using sheer power to get to a point where you’re comfortable. This is hazardous too. The risk is there because some folks exaggerate and, to add to the “coolness” of their image, will take your genuine, heartfelt action and twist it into a crazy, psycho type story. I don’t know if there’s currently a word more overused by 20-somethings than “stalk.” I hear things like, “Ew, she/he remembered my favorite soda and then surprised me by buying me a bottle and writing a nice note to go along with it. What a stalker.” When did doing nice things and making an effort turn into stalking? Now nobody wants to put themselves out there. Nobody wants to try, at least not too hard, because they might get thrown under the bus and be cast in a super creepy light.

And so, because there’s probably going to be some struggle regardless of what is done, people choose to do nothing at all. It seems easier to just let things run their course naturally, and not stop or speed up the process any. This is why you see so many people uncertain about what they’re involved in. Some are mostly in it for hookups; others spend a substantial amount of time together but never take it to the next level. And then there are those who literally perform the actions of a relationship: dinner, movies, hugs, kisses, sweet nothings, sex — but no label or commitment. The openness of tag-less, promise-less connection is a killer.

Space and uncertainty leaves room for both parties to stray or other people to wedge their way into the picture. And when that happens, feelings get hurt, emotions are realized and bridges burn to the ground. So if you care about a person but are unsure whether they’re your good friend, best friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, casual sex partner, cuddle buddy, unlicensed therapist or movie watching companion, consider yourself at risk. Whether you completely stop or go full force, you’re guaranteed to force some sort of change. But doing nothing and allowing a big, gray area to exist puts your feelings in jeopardy. If you don’t do something proactive to close or enforce the space, someone might come along and take that option away from you — which is far more excruciating. TC Mark

image – ShutterStock

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