The "Talking" Stage

So you’ve recently met someone and you hit it off. You think that you have some level of interest in them and it appears that they have some level of interest in you. You might have even hooked up, or not. Either way, you and said person are texting, snapchatting, hanging out, whatever. Your conversations are flirty, and clearly there’s more to this than a platonic friendship. If you’re at all confused about what’s going on, let me tell you. You, my friend, are in the “talking” stage.

The infamous “talking” stage is the biggest grey area when it comes to dating.  You’re getting to know this individual and they’re getting to know you. You’re interested in each other to some degree, but right now you’re both still feeling it out. There’s more to this than a friendship, but it isn’t yet a relationship. This strange time produces a variety of questions regarding what is acceptable behavior. Can you be talking to other people as well? Can you hook up with other people? Are they allowed to talk to/hook up with other people? Are you allowed to be jealous if they do? You’re probably unclear as to where the person you are talking to is at, and to make it even worse, you’re very possibly unclear as to where you are at. One of you could be, and likely is, more invested than the other. You don’t know whether it will develop into a relationship or if it’ll perpetually just be a “thing.” You don’t know if you’re wasting your time and it’ll take a while to figure that out.

If you’re confused about how to navigate this grey area, you are not alone. There are many other people with this same struggle. Everyone seems to have their own opinions on how to handle this. If we take this debate to social media, it appears that most people agree with the argument for “loyalty” during this stage. A quick side note: I use the term “loyalty” loosely, because in my opinion it’s inappropriately used in this context, but I’ll get more into that issue later. Memes like the one below dominate the internet.  

I disagree.

First of all, as I mentioned earlier, I disagree with using the term “loyalty” in this situation. The opposite of loyalty is disloyalty, betrayal, untrustworthiness, etc. The connotations with these words are far too dramatic. If you’re “talking” to more than one person, I don’t think anyone should go so far as to say that you’re betraying anyone, or that you’re untrustworthy. After all, you aren’t in a relationship with any of these people. There should be a clear distinction between being in a relationship and merely “talking.” I think what this meme actually means to say is, “you gotta be exclusive during the “talking” stage to prove you’re loyal enough to take it to the next level,” in which case, I again disagree.

The “talking” stage is the stage when you’re figuring out if you want to take it to the next level. There is no reason for exclusivity yet. If I’m talking to someone, I don’t expect them to be exclusive with me yet and I hope they don’t expect me to be exclusive with them. The whole point of this stage is to decide if you want exclusivity with this person. If you decide that you do, then you enter the next stage, which is a relationship. The relationship stage is when we can start to talk about loyalty.

The problem with the millennial generation is that we seem to confuse the “talking” stage and the relationship stage. Individuals who aren’t exclusive during the “talking” stage get labeled as disloyal, which is silly because this stage does not yet have anything to do with loyalty. Until two people decide to take it to the relationship stage, they are both technically single. Single means single. End of story.

At the end of the day, the “talking” stage is really not as confusing as it initially seems. The only reason for confusion is the blurring of the “talking” stage and the relationship stage. Once you realize that there is, or at least should be, a clear distinction between them, life becomes much simpler.