Over cocktails and appetizers with a friend of mine recently, she caught me up on her current dating life. She’s been seeing a dude for about six months, they go on dates (and sleep over) a few times a week, he’s introduced her to all of his friends, they’ve discussed going on vacation together early next year and she feels like she’s (maybe, kinda, definitely) falling in love with him
So, he’s your boyfriend then?! I asked, excitedly. That’s great!! You’ve been single for a while now!
Oh, no, we’re not like, official, official, she said, taking a quite large sip of wine. We’re seeing each other. And I think we’re only sleeping with one another.
I raised an eyebrow, communicating my concern without saying a word and she nodded, rolled her eyes and let out a heavy sigh.
I know, I know. I want to be his girlfriend… but I don’t know how to bring it up or if it’s too soon or if it’ll scare him away. Things are SO good right now and I’m really happy. Sometimes I think it’s just better to leave it alone. I don’t want to ruin something by being too demanding. I don’t know how he’d have time to date other people, you know? And I met his best friend! That’s something. Right?
All of those things do mean something, sure – but while I gave my friend the best advice I could (for goodness sake, ask the dude already and don’t waste your time!) – I can’t say I haven’t been sitting in her seat, drinking that wine, making up countless excuses on why I was tucking my tail and letting a man call all of the shots. We’re not the only ladies who have allowed themselves to be in waiting while basically choking on the fear of freaking out a guy who might want to commit but maybe isn’t ready, so instead of saying what we want (and um, stating the obvious), we don’t say a word and pray for the best.
In my experience, the best never really happens that way.
I’m not sure when we all stopped agreeing to be in relationships and instead, settled for “almost-relationships” and started saying (bullshit) things like: “Oh, we’re not really into titles” or “I think he’s only sleeping with me, I don’t really want to know if he’s sleeping with other people” or “I’m just going to date a bunch of people too, so then it won’t hurt as much if it doesn’t work out with the guy I’m actually really into” …but can I make a suggestion?
Let’s cut the crap and admit it: we’re all scared shitless of being in love.
Okay – maybe not in love, per se – but being in relationships. Somehow, we’ve all built up relationships on such big pedestals that we’re afraid to climb them. We’ve made them out to be so serious, so dangerous, so intense that instead of taking chances, we’re all hiding behind casual terminology for protection.
But even if we’re not saying it – or admitting it – we’re still investing our hearts. We’re still going out with people – sometimes for more than six months. Or a year. We’re still letting ourselves get intimately involved – both physically and emotionally – with people that we’re not willing to introduce as our boyfriends at happy hour (even though we want to so badly!). We’re still dreaming of futures without setting up a solid present. We’re still in relationships, even if we never call them that. We might think by not saying that word out loud, we’re pushing our feelings aside… but they’re still there.
So maybe the bigger question is this: why are we afraid? What’s so scary about being in a relationship? What’s so difficult about taking a big leap of faith and hoping for the best? We do it all the time in every other aspect of our lives, so why not in love?
Sure, the crash might sting a little more when you involve your heart… but the rewards you could possibly reap are worth it, don’t you think? If generations before us have all survived short-lived and long-lasting relationships, with bumps, scrapes and heartbreaks, and somehow managed to come out at the end happily married (or happily single!) – I think we can manage learning to call the kettle black.
Or at the very least, stop settling for guys who refuse to be with you. For reals. Not half-heartedly or without any heart at all – but truly, 100 percent in it. It might not work out, it might actually suck in the end, but if you start your relationship – or whatever you want to call it – on the basis of fear, won’t you always be scared of it failing?
Wouldn’t you rather focus on the sweet surrender of falling instead?
I know I would. And that’s possibly why I’ve been single for three years because as a girl who loves language – the word ‘relationship’ is a pretty important one for me. And one that’s pretty well defined: I like you, you like me, let’s do this. The end.