Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. The courtship dance begins. Long talks, sweet texts, gradually they begin to share their life dreams and aspirations while assessing each other’s compatibility and similarities.
One by one, the list of desirable characteristics check off. Boy and girl fall in lust. Intensity increases and feelings grow. However, it’s still in the beginning stage and the two find themselves launched into that confusing gray area… that somewhere between dating and coupled, “single” and “taken”, “me” and “we.” God forbid being the first to bring up the “What are we” discussion, so both stay in a state of limbo, not knowing exactly where the boundaries begin and end.
I’ve never been one comfortable being in the gray area. As a highly analytical person, I find comfort in categorizing and compartmentalizing most things in life. I also take a slow and cautious approach when assigning labels such as “friend’ and “boyfriend”, or making strong statements such as “I love you.” I believe that such words come with intention, responsibility and commitment, and should not be thrown around loosely.
Today I find myself at an interesting intersection. Recently I started ‘seeing’ someone, and our undefined status is at that beginning stage where it’s too early to talk exclusivity. However, at the same time, considering our deep connection, dating other people wouldn’t seem right. I don’t have a label to guide my decisions, so I have to trust my gut and better judgement. So what is the right thing to do when asked out on a date? Should I delete the dating apps off my phone and ghost from my virtual suitors? And, what would be the correct answer when someone asks, “Are you single?”
Some would say that unless exclusivity is formally discussed, one should keep playing the field, an approach also known as ‘hedging’. This is when you keep doors open with multiple potential romantic partners to avoid investing into one person. It’s ultimately a strategy to avoid getting hurt, or approaching romance with an upgrade and maximizer mentality – both which I think, prohibit one from truly connecting with another.
What comes first? The label of being in a relationship or the act of being in a relationship? I think it’s the latter.
What you focus on manifests. If you continue going on with your single ways as a way to hedge or avoid getting hurt, then the outcome will likely result in you continuing to be single. If you focus on building a relationship with someone, then the chances of that flourishing into something meaningful is a lot more likely.
Building a foundation for a potential relationship begins first and foremost with a choice. Perhaps we need a new term for this process, one I’d like to coin as conscious unsingle-ing. It starts with a decision you make to invest in someone, to focus on building with that person, and thinking for ‘we’ instead of ‘myself’. It’s a decision to open up and make space for that person, to be vulnerable, to feeling the fear of rejection and potential heartache but surrendering anyway – because it’s worth it. Because that person is worth it. Creating a healthy, happy relationship does not just happen by chance, it’s a series of conscious decisions.
Photo by: Daniel Horacio Agostini