It’s 11:55am and you are getting your sweater out of your locker and your best friend sidles up to you and stage whispers, “So, are you going out with him?”
Everyone turns to hear the answer…
Don’t you hate that question?
There used to be a time when you could definitely know whether or not you were dating someone. There were very clearly defined rules. One hundred years ago, boys and girls went “courting” and the young man would “woo” the girl with presents and gifts and flattery and go on constitutionals (walks) in the park and sit in the gazebo and maybe even (oh heavens!) hold hands. Then, about sixty years ago, girls went on “dates” with boys who got all dressed up and came at an appointed time and opened car doors and brought flowers. And if you went on enough “dates”, you were “going steady”. And you both knew it. Then he would give you his class ring or his jacket and everyone knew you were serious.
It was old fashioned, you say. At least you knew if you were “an item”. Now it is more common for people not to know. More often than not in that scenario in the hallway, the answer would be:
And doesn’t that drive you nuts! Don’t you want to know for sure whether or not the other person really likes you enough to perhaps like you more than every other person and perhaps not flirt or make out with other people?
Other than just squelching that burning desire to know whether or not that other person who you like so much is really in a relationship with you, knowing is really important. Knowing whether or not you are in a relationship with another person is important because there are rules and boundaries to any relationship and you need to know what type you are in and then you need to decide what the rules are – together. For instance, if you are “kinda” going out, is it okay for the other person to “kinda” go out with someone else? And what about flirting? Is it okay for the other person to flirt? And what is flirting anyway? Is it a touch, a look, a way that he or she talks to other people? These are things that you need to know.
When you don’t know what the rules are, then comes the drama. If you are “kinda” going out and the other person makes out with your best friend, does that mean you are “kinda” broken up? And what about making out with you? At what point is it okay? When you are “kinda” going out or when you are “sorta kinda” going out or perhaps not at all? Now that you have answered these questions (or are at least thinking about them), what do you think the other person expects from the relationship? Don’t expect that it is going to be the same as what you expect.
For some reason, we seem to think that if the other person “really loves” us, they will know telepathically just what we want and expect from a relationship. Even something as undefined as “kinda” going out. That’s just not true. No matter how much the other person cares for you, they will never know what you are thinking and believing unless you tell them. Just have a good conversation (nothing forced or formal) about what they want from you and what you want from them (this can also be done via text message or email if you think a face-to-face would be too intense). If you think that would scare them away, that is a message in and of itself. Perhaps you weren’t as much going out as you thought. And, even though that would stink, at least you would know. And knowing is better than not knowing. That’s why the older systems were sometimes more helpful in defining a relationship.
That’s not to say that you need to revert to “old fashioned” dating or courting. They had their own flaws (I, for one, would not be caught dead in a corset or poodle skirt). But talking about what you expect from a relationship is very important. Even if you are just “kinda” going out.