THE GREY AREA.
As much as I’d like them to be, most things in life are never black and white. I’ve discovered this is particularly true (more so over the last couple of years) when it comes to dating. The topic I’ll be delving into for this post looks at that precise moment when you suddenly find yourself in the “grey area”, otherwise known as “so what are we?” or "DTR" (Defining the Relationship).
It’s probably one of the most daunting questions to ask, most people will try to dodge it at all costs but by doing so means you’ll need to live in ambiguity – and let’s face it, no one needs that unnecessary stress. At first you think it’s all well and good as you continue to dance around the undefined relationship. Then as things keep progressing… you’re now 6 months in, sitting there wondering whether the person is really yours. Ughhh. Turns out, calling a “thing” a thing might actually help! I’ve play this guessing game a few times, and the most eyebrow raising part of this whole situation is when the other party wants/expects all the perks of being in a relationship but aren’t down for the commitment – I shall save this topic for whole separate post! Figuring out where you stand hasn’t always been an easy subject to tackle, but it seems to be much stickier conversation to address in today’s modern dating society. Hinge, Bumble, Tinder and all the other dating apps give us endless choices for who we can date. While it’s not a terrible thing, the buffet of potentials has made us pickier and less decisive, resulting in the “paradox of choice”. You may have found a great match, but what if there’s someone better around the corner? And if you’re not thinking that, then who’s to say your romantic interest isn’t? Again, this is yet another topic that requires a separate post! So how do we deal with the "grey area"? What’s the best approach to take when you like someone but have no idea how they feel… when you want to have “the talk” but don’t want to “scare them” off… along with many other agonising thoughts. I once saw an inspiring quote that went along the lines of:
“One of the biggest barriers to courageous leadership is tough conversations.”
Now switch out the word “leadership” with the word “dating” or “relationships”, and it holds just as true!
THE ANXIOUS MIND
How is it that after several amazing dates, your excitement has slowly transformed into anxiety? Analysing every text, the timing, the frequency, the substance and so on. With this overwhelming amount of information (that you’ve decided to magnify in tenfold), more often than not it makes you feel even less certain about the situation. Instead of subjecting yourself to late-night evaluations in bed and drawn-out conversations with your friends (who are just as confused as you are), just steel your nerves and muster up the courage to ask the person you’re seeing, “So what’s going on with us?”. Yes it's like a 6 word horror story, I know, but it’s worth knowing whether you should continue to invest time and effort with them or call it quits.
THINGS HAPPEN, BUT LIFE GOES ON
The quality of life (not just dating) becomes much more fruitful when you’re able to have uncomfortable conversations and deal with the outcomes in a mature and calm manner. The truth is, life goes on – it’s as simple as that. However, I want to share a few nuggets of “wisdom” for when you’re next thinking about baring your soul:
1. Feeling anxious is a sign that your emotions are far too dependent on someone else’s actions. When you place your power in another person’s hands, they’re essentially controlling the situation, not you. So you need to reframe the narrative and really figure out what you want out of it because don’t forget, you have a say in the situation too. 2. If it all gets a bit too much and you’re overanalysing or overthinking, just do something that you enjoy; watch a film, speak to a friend, go for a run, listen to music, write, draw, do some cooking, meditate… whatever your outlet is, it’ll certainly help you ease the discomfort. 3. It’s important to be transparent about what you want from the start. Ask open-ended, non-confrontational questions. That’s what dating is about at the end of the day, getting to know each other and gauging whether you’re on the same page. Sure it’s a dauntless move, you might think “What if being completely upfront puts someone off?” – but you need to think of it less as scaring someone away and more creating a very important, beneficial filter. 4. Ambiguity happens because we allow it to happen. Most of the time we know what we want, we’re just afraid to ask for it out of fear of rejection. It’s a rookie mistake to expect people to come into your life with a full understanding of what you’re looking for, but we do it anyway.
WHAT'S THE WORST THAT CAN ACTUALLY HAPPEN THOUGH?
Unless you’re both certain that you want to be together, there really isn’t any other way to handle this scenario. Whatever you do, don’t bury your head in the sand and wait for the other person to dictate the terms. Do it yourself, when you’re ready to level up. Ignorance really isn’t bliss, especially where dating and relationships are concerned. And if they can't give you a straight answer, maybe that’s the only answer you need.