Someone asked me once to expound on the “talking” phase. I was extremely flattered that they considered me wise enough to divulge on such a contentious topic but I was also confused as to how to start explaining a phenomenon I myself wasn’t too familiar with or particularly liked.
Before delving into any more detail, I’d like to firstly define millennial. By millennials, I’m referring to generation Y. The generation born somewhere between 1980s to early 2000s.The microwave generation; the peter pan generation; the generation that had everything going for them until entitlement like puberty struck; the generation of co-dependents; the generation lacking in social skills but great at social media and the generation adept at delayed adulthood. This generation, with all its shortcomings and virtues completely transformed the dating game through its shortcomings and virtues and the effects are probably irreversible. We tore down decades of dating/ courtship conventions and where these conventions weren’t torn down, we altered them to suit our needs.
Before “talking” or any other millennial construct that functions to slow the dating process right down, there were probably only two stages of love: courtship and marriage. The journey was far more clear cut. You knew that after a certain period of time, he would propose or she would accept your proposal and if he/she didn’t there were always plenty more fish in the sea. Fast forward a few decades and there are far more steps between dating and marriage and even pre – dating.
It used to be you met a girl that you found attractive, endearing even, then after a few dates you’d ask her to be your girlfriend. It was usual practice for men to take initiative in this area before you criticize me of misogyny. The process of demonstrating your feelings depended very much on the type of man you were and the lengths you were prepared to go but even then the journey to “relationshipdom” wasn’t as allusive.
It’s hard to trace the genesis of “talking” and all the other extra status’ we deem necessary pre-relationship but I would personally attribute them to a heightened sense of individuality, sexual liberation, delayed adulthood which translates to not really wanting to be responsible for anyone besides yourself, the rise of social media and the need for control. However, this article isn’t an attempt to trace the phenomenon but debate the phenomenon.
I became acquainted with this term when a girlfriend mentioned it in conversation once. “Oh yh, Cristine, me and Mr X are talking.” I’m absolutely positive that “about?” was the next question that proceeded from my mouth, to which she responded, “ what do you mean about?” My gravely naïve self couldn’t understand why she had mentioned “talking” as if it were any different from the conversation she was having with me but I played along knowing that I would return to Google for wisdom.
Talking, as I defined it to the lovely soul who messaged me seeking clarification, is when two people mildly or severely attracted to one another speak quite frequently. Generally, both parties have already declared interest in each other and where they haven’t, their actions do the talking. Whilst, I’ve also used the word to describe relationships with men in the past, I’ve come to the realisation that it’s all absurd.
Talking is problematic for the following reasons:
Talking creates an illusion of intimacy or commitment for either or both parties. However, when the illusion fades and the reality of your non- committed, fake intimacy sets in, it will sting. You’ll realise that you’ve either been led on or led away, investing time into something that was unworthy.
Talking isn’t clearly defined. There are no rules, which means there are no checks and balances. Can I talk to more than one person? How long should I talk for? Questions that really shouldn’t pervade our minds if talking is supposed to be the more unrestrained alternative.
Talking seems infinite. 1 month? Talking. 3 months? Talking. 10 months? Still talking. Absurdity.
It’s our way of avoiding commitment whist simultaneously escaping loneliness. Yet, we’re loyal to our football teams, banks, brands but find it difficult to commit to people. On the other hand, we crave intimacy and so “talking” became the easy alternative.
In the long run, it makes us lazy. The level of expectation is lowered. Neither party is compelled to do something they would have otherwise done in a relationship so no real effort is required to make anything work.
“Talking” is just “talking”. It’s what you do when you ask the corner shop owner how much your favourite snack is, or your reply to the waitress in Nandoes, who asks how you like your chicken, or what you do when you you’re in the middle of nowhere desperately seeking directions from a passerby, You talk. So to single out something you do so casually, just because you are doing it on a regular basis with a specific person is strange to me. It’s simply conversation. We err by thinking the conversation is more than the conversation when in fact it is just conversation.
In fact talking wouldn’t be so problematic, if we didn’t load it with emotions but often it’s hard to separate the two.
The non – exclusive stage is quite similar to the “talking” phase, the only difference being you can speak to whomever you want. This is a lot less allusive than the talking phase but it’s still quite flawed. Do I tell the other person about my other no exclusive relations Should I ask the other person how many other people they are seeing, or if they’re having sexual relations with these people?
The “more than talking but not quite a relationship” stage, whilst better than the last two stages, is nothing to write home about. Again my contention is with the expectation before the commitment which breeds confusion and probably lead to disappointment.
I’m suggesting abolishing the “talking” (and other phases) altogether and skip to the part where we’re committed. It just doesn’t seem plausible to have so many stages before a relationship.
We do ourselves a disservice by delaying intimacy.
Does “talking” encourage or hamper commitment?