It can sometimes feel like you're watching an ESPN special and have no clue what sport is on, much less what all the lingo means. Baes-ball, if you will.
But that's how some discussions about relationships with your friends can be like. You just have to hope, nod and grimace at appropriate intervals and google everything when you get back. But relationships don't generally give you time to google things while you're having the conversation. Tragically. So that's where I come in!
Saddle up! Metaphorically, guys, Get your minds out of the gutter
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, I have an axe to grind. I see it all the time around me, every day – without fail.
I know that it's the natural self-preservation instinct to protect yourself. Survival is, after all, the goal of natural selection – and scientifically speaking – life itself. It isn't however, all that there is.
What I'm not so transparently talking about here is the dynamic that I see in relationships and love in general where people want to have a partner and a satisfying relationship, but aren't willing to get hurt. Or make mistakes, or be honest with each other. They expect to receive all the emotional benefits and rewards of confiding in other people, but do not reciprocate, or render themselves vulnerable. They aren't willing to have difficult or awkward conversations. The reality is that all relationships face two pieces of advice in response to these problems. One – you communicate honestly and talk things through. Or, somewhat sombrely, failing that – you can only break up.
Okay, back to your regularly scheduled programs…
If you're anything like me, it can be difficult knowing what means what in a relationship. Heck, most of the time I just turn up and jaunt along for the ride. No jokes. Little jokes?
But we're left with the proposition of what to do when we are actually in a relationship. The question that no one wants to ask much less answer: 'what are we'. By which the answer they're actually looking for here is a response to whether or not you're exclusive. That's the gold mine of answers, really. And frankly, there is only one answer you want to hear if you're asking the question in the first place. 'Yes, of course'.
But there are more and less obvious markers in a relationship. Some will be familiar to you, others won't, but that's why I'm here!
So, without further ado… What stage of a relationship am I in?
Step 1: the social media interaction. This is a step up from casual meetings in the bar where you just happen to run into each other (in your Sunday best, no less). This can start with a simple Good morning/good night – right so I'm working up towards sentiments that are actually properly meaningful. But, chronologically speaking, the natural evolution from 'hey' after a bit of conversation is 'good morning'. You can expect these most mornings, but don't stress about anticipating one every day. At its core, this means that he is thinking of you every time he wakes up, and even if you aren't the first thing on his mind – it's the act of remembering that matters too. If he knows you like them, he would do well to meet your needs.
This progresses to 'This reminded me of you' moments
Even if it's a funny Facebook tag or an Instagram DM, this is important. You might remind him of puppies or something goofy like people falling over, but either way, if he looks at his social media and thinks of you, you're golden. Plus, you get to see some excellent wholesome content; it's a win-win.
Another option: he links you to a game he's playing – while some hate this, I think it's cute. If he's playing Candy Crush when he's bored or waiting for a train, it's another level of intimacy and you guys can work together or play against each other. It's fun and passes the time, and often prompts more genuine conversation anyway.
Then after that, it's an easy road to 'I love you's, moving in and shared pets, trust me.
Once you meet the parents, you're in
Even if you haven't racked all of these options up yet, don't stress.
There is plenty of time for relationships to evolve, and some will do so in a less standard order, or even not at all.