When You’re Stuck In The ‘Just Talking’ Phase Before You Can Say You’re Actually Dating

Flickr / Ollyy
Flickr / Ollyy

Let’s admit it, we’ve all been there. Sitting on the floor of our dorm room, huddled around our phones with three of our closest girlfriends. Sending screenshots of our iMessage threads o friends and sisters, comparing opinions and desperately hoping there is a secret meaning behind each sentence and emoji.  

Deciphering texts like mad scientists, looking for any possibility or inkling that they may have the same feelings for us as we do for them. What does this text mean? He keeps using the sexual emoji, does that mean he wants to sleep with me? If he texts me first, does that mean he was thinking about me? If I ask him to do something, will I seem too needy and obsessive? Does he think I’m obsessive? Am I obsessive? Let’s face it, you’re in love. Are we going to fuck or not?  

We spend time praying to some made up relationship gods that somehow, just this once, it could work out for us. We spend an infinite amount of time trying to decide if it’s real or we’re making it up in our heads, a guy like him could never like a girl like me. We try to convince ourselves that maybe all the stars will align in just the right way and maybe they’ll confess their undying love, but we know deep down that great things take time. Friends and family constantly ask us how we and “that guy” are doing? The truth is, we don’t really know ourselves.  “Fine” we say as we try to dodge the relationship labeling conversations.

 People know that we hang out all the time and the blank spaces between our names are filled with an ampersand. They ask us when it’s going to happen, when we’ll finally be “official”, as if some label with vilify this messed up labor of love. The truth is, you don’t want to label anything or utter the word “boyfriend” without seeming too clingy. There is no Facebook relationship status that could understand your current situation, so when friends ask you how that guy is, you simply say “we’re talking.”  

You’re figuring things out, you’re in the process of realizing that you care more for a single human being than you realized. You’re learning that the thought of him dating someone else is just not amusing and that’d you’d truly be a little heartbroken, if you could be honest. You’re talking.  The phrase, the label, or semi-label, has been overused by friends who are too scared to admit feelings for each other for years. Well, we’re friends. But we both kind of know that we like each other. We aren’t dating, we haven’t even really talked about dating, but we’re talking.  

But what does talking mean? You hang out sometimes with obvious mutual flirtation. You talk, but not about anything important, and definitely not about your feelings, but you’re talking.  You’re friends, but you’re also more. Eventually one or both of them realize that they are the last person they think about at night, they lie awake in bed wishing that this person could be there so bad it hurts. It aches when they mention other people or how they liked this girl from math class or describing their perfect girl as anyone other than you. You feel like you have been in this stage more times than you could count, connected to some guy but not in a way than could be described.  

A feeling that there was something there, but nothing was moving forward. You do everything a couple would do, but without being a couple. You feel pressure not to be with or talk to other people, but you know that they are probably doing it, so you decide to as well. Once both of you figures out the other one has been talking to someone, jealousy ensues and you go back to square one all over again.  We’ve all been there, trying to decide on whether or not to admit feelings, asking everyone who will listen for advice. Then, one day, drunk us decides to send a text to them saying how much we like them and how you care so much about them. But then both parties completely fail to acknowledge this once together again. There seems to be a looming white elephant in the room, the big question, “Where is this going?”

Is this just us being friends or is this something more? Is this going anywhere and if so, when?  How should I know?” You begin questioning yourself, wondering if you’re willing to put in as much effort as you are when you are barely getting anything in return. Are you willing to keep whatever is happening going until they eventually start dating someone else and you end up in tears again with little to no closure? The problem with the talking phase is that it’s the coward’s way out.  

It’s a way to dodge unwanted questions from overbearing peers. It’s a way to make sense of the senseless. It’s a way to make excuses for a lack of communication between two people. I’ve been in this situation several times throughout my life.  More times than not the talking phase never turns into something more.  It continues to maintain its made up love, or lack thereof, status until one or both find someone more interesting. Talking leaves more questions than answers.  It takes everything and gives nothing back in return. It takes your effort, your time, your emotion and spits them back out day after day with no explanation.  

The talking phase, a term coined by millennials, needs to end now because it’s shitty. Who wants to not know what’s going on and feel shitty and confused? If two people like each other, they should be completely and entirely honest because that’s what a relationship feeds off of, honesty. As I’ve said before, I like big, passionate, thrilling, and equal love and I refuse to accept anything less. I refuse to remain in a calloused state of being. Relationships should not be a game of Clue or 20 Questions, they should not be hard.  

If two people are meant to be together, then they’ll be together and they’ll know it. Let’s skip talking and go straight to what we want. For once, let’s try being straightforward and avoid the guessing game. Instead of a guy asking, “wanna hang out after work tonight and do something?”  I’d much rather prefer complete honesty like, “let me take you out to a nice dinner, just the two of us.” Sometimes the old-fashioned way works, and at least it’s much easier to understand one’s own intentions. TC mark

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