Contrary to popular belief, I’ve learned over time that dating is not always the first step when you meet someone with whom there is a mutual attraction. Sure, you may go on a date or two, but typically we all find some way to distinguish that period of time from the ever ambiguous, even though it really shouldn’t be all that complicated time of dating.
We’ll say things like, “oh, we’re getting to know each other still,” or “Who that guy? Sure, we’ve been on a couple dates, but it’s nothing serious yet.” And if you’re stuck in 1999 and still thinking that Love Jones is how you should model a relationship, you might even say something like, “Oh we’re just kicking it.” But when anyone makes the mistake of jumping you two to the dating stage too soon – somehow you find a way to shut that down quickly.
So what is this stage anyway? It’s not nearly as important as the “we’re seeing each other” stage and usually doesn’t constitute exclusivity unless both parties have discussed it doing so. When it does, people to start using terms like “exclusively dating” or if you’re a word jerk like a guy I dated back in the day, you might say that your “making a concerted effort to see and date only each other.” Either way, the fact that you have to point out the exclusivity proves that it’s not a given.
And yet, folks get really antsy when the word is used, as if hanging out and dating are a major leap from each other. Incidentally, I tend to define dating as the time when 2 people who are attracted to each other and sense some sort of chemistry/connection spend time with each other on a fairly consistent basis in an effort to get to know each other better.
Is that definition wordy? Yes. Is it fairly clear? I believe so. But if you don’t necessarily agree with it or are still wondering if you’ve hit the dating stage, here are a few compiled signs that I’ve heard from friends and used myself to determine if it’s the case – well other than just you all saying that you’re dating, of course.
1. You find yourself spending un-scripted time with each other.
In most cases, the first several dates between two people are thoughtfully planned out. They may not be extremely intricate, but they’re usually agreed to by both parties at least 2 to 3 days in advance and typically involve some sort of formalities. You might go to dinner or to a museum or even ride bumper cars, but it’s a specific event for a set time. But a good way to know you’re entering the dating stage is when you can just call the other person up and say – Hey, let’s go get some ice cream. – or – Hey, I’m going to the park today. You want to come? – and no one feels slighted because it just seems natural that you two want to spend time together.
2. You begin to meet each others’ friends.
I don’t know about you all, but I treat my close friends like my family – and neither one of those groups meet a guy unless I really want them to meet him. I’ll use my mom as an example of why: to this day, I will be talking to my mom about randomness and all of a sudden, she’ll start going down a list of people she knows from me and asking how they’re doing. Inevitably, this list will take a left turn from my friends and end up to a list of my exes. As if I want to rehash those experiences with my mother. Guess what? My friends aren’t all that different. And they love to give their opinion about people… so if I’m introducing someone to them, I’m damn confident that they’re going to like him. I think most people are like that.
3. You hear from him more than once a week, preferably by more outlets than just the text message.
I think this is kind of self-explanatory… but I guess I’ll break it down anyway. Every guy friend I know has told me that if a guy is interested in a woman, he won’t be able to let a week go by without contacting her in some kind of way. He’s going to want to hear her voice. He’s going to want to see her name come up on his phone screen or his email. And it doesn’t matter how busy he is either, if he likes you he’ll make the time. So think about if he’s making the time more and more? That’s a pretty good sign that his interest is increasing.
4. You’ve both stopped checking to see if it’s “your turn” to call… or email… or text… the other person.
Okay, don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about here. The whole “my turn vs. his turn” debate goes on in almost every person’s head at the beginning of getting to know someone. You don’t want to seem pressed so you don’t call the other person until they’ve called you back, or you don’t want to seem extra eager so you make sure that you weren’t the last one to initiate something between the two of you before initiating something this time. But when you head into the dating stage, you forget all that nonsense. You want to talk to him – so you call. You want to see her – so you ask her to join you. Simple as that.
5. Your friends have stopped calling him by his nickname (which can be given to anyone, really) and actually know him by his name. (Aside: I can’t confirm that this is true for men as well, but I do have it on good authority that guys give out nicknames as well… so I’m inclined to believe the same applies here as well.)
A large purpose of the nickname game is to help your friends associate people with different attributes so they can keep up with who you’re talking about… and because it can be funny. But when all your friends know the guy by his name and don’t have to say, “Kevin? Is that the one who licks his lips all the time?” – it’s a pretty safe bet they know he’s special to you… and that you just might be dating.
What are some other signs you all can think of? And do you disagree with any of these? If you do, it’s probably one of the ones a guy friend told me…. just sayin’ lol.