If there is one question common to most college age and post grad daters, it is definitely whether or not one is actually in a relationship, like, right now. Back in high school, a relationship was pretty much inevitable after one sloppy date at a movie theatre and a night of hand holding. Then came in the question of, “Will you be my girlfriend?” We cut to the chase pretty quickly, if not instantaneously. It’s not like every 16 year old male really had a thing for Chasing Liberty. No, he took you to see that movie to get some tongue action and presents on his birthday. I mean, your personality was probably great, too.
Once college comes around though, dating gets trickier. I’m still deciding whether or not this is a millennial issue, or simply just a trend amongst college party animals. (I see you, Syracuse.) The definition of an actual date in these glory days typically fluctuates between pre-gaming together and getting fro-yo. As a freshman, the idea is still in the back of your head that someone somewhere is going to want to take you to dinner, split the tip with you out of politeness, and from then on you’ll be hanging out all the time and sooner or later introducing one another to roommates, friends, and family alike as “the boyfriend/girlfriend.” That mindset quickly shifts, though. You can’t help but notice the short lived romances and high school breakups happening amongst your friends. “There are so many more options, why commit to just one person?” Because then you find yourself wondering whether or not your occasional hookup is technically considered cheating on your steady hookup – you’ve never been on a date, but somehow, someone gets hurt.
These days, *bless you, post grad life* a lot of us find ourselves going out on dates – a lot of dates. And, we have modern day dating apps to thank for much of that success.
Technically, you can be getting dinner with Billy tonight, Joe tomorrow, and maybe brunch with Steven on Sunday. With no exchange of naked bodies after a heart to heart regarding a potential relationship, I’d say this is perfectly normal. The hard part is when you start to like someone, want to spend more time with them, and know perfectly well that they could be doing the same thing. Again, there is nothing wrong with it. Does it make knowing where the two of you stand a little difficult? Sure does.
You don’t want to give up seeing other people when you have no idea what the other person is doing, so you start to wonder if the “DTR” talk is needed. I feel like 95% of the time, defining the relationship unintentionally happens months after spending time together. It doesn’t even have to be anything you say out loud, but you start to realize it when the majority of that person’s free time is spent with you, and when it’s not, they’re asking when the next time you’re free is. This of course then leads into knowing when the appropriate time would be to start introducing one another as more than a friend. You’ve probably been there; you’re at a party, someone looks at your person quizzically and all you can muster up is, “This is my friend, blah blah blah.” SO uncomfortable. There is never a clear way to go about it, especially after not first having that talk.
In terms of there needing to be a specific number of dates that has to happen before you’re considered a “sign the card together” couple, it takes more than “a few here and there.” Once you’re meeting the people most important in your person’s life, attending events together, and perhaps playing Doctor, then I’d say it’s safe to bet that you are most certainly in a relationship.
My best advice would be not to rush. Keep your expectations low because in the best case scenario, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Worst case, you didn’t have much invested anyway.