love

 

At almost every family gathering my aunts and uncles tell stories about how they met each other, about when they were dating, and about their wedding day.  Their stories seem so far removed from the way most people date now.  In their experiences it was always that they met, they liked each other, they were exclusive, and they eventually either got married or broke up.

It’s so much more complicated now. We meet someone; we like them, but do they like us? We hangout, but are we dating? Are you seeing other people? Wait, do you still like me? Should I text you?

Modern dating is one of the most frustrating topics for single people, or at least it is for me.  There seems to be this whole grey area when you find someone who peaks your interest.  While some people are lucky to have found one of those elusive “catches,” most of us are out there in the dating world questioning motives, labels, and where it’s all going.

One of the largest patterns of annoyance I have noticed in the modern dating experience is what I call the “phase-out.”  Unless you act like a real grown up and have sat down with the person you are “dating” to discuss where it’s going, you probably have experienced this phenomenon.

I think the best way to describe exactly how this pattern plays out is to use a hypothetical scenario:

  1. You’re at a friend’s house party, and you spot someone new across the room.  They approach you, introductions are made, and conversation starts.  You leave the party having only gotten their name. 
  2. You inevitably run into them again and this time exchange numbers.  The flirty, getting to know you texts start, and you go on your first date, or is it a date? See, that’s where a lot of us take a wrong turn because modern dating can mean not trying to hard or keeping it casual, but what if you don’t want to keep it casual? 
  3. You hangout with each other, hold hands in public occasionally, and meet each other’s friends, but you never really make it official.  Then all of a sudden the texts and hangouts are farther apart, less intimate, more removed, and before you know it, it stops completely.
  4. This is where the idea of power comes into play.  You will debate with yourself on whether or not you should reach out to them, but if you do that then they’ll know you give a shit.  You’ll question what it is you did to make them run away, and you’ll wonder why they didn’t give you any closure. Maybe you will listen to sad music, or maybe you will get angry.  You might move on, or it may take you a little more time to realize they really have phased you out. It’s possible that you will see them from time to time, it’s possible a weird and confusing friendship will blossom, or it’s possible you will never see them again.  In any of these endings you will most likely never get the answers and the closure you seek. It will simply end.

I’ve posed a lot of questions here, but honestly it’s because I don’t have the answers.  The “phase-out” is a frustrating occurrence that I know all too well.  Most of my dating experiences in the last few years have all ended in a phase out of sorts.  When it happens, you’re left more confused about how dating works than you were before, which was already pretty confusing.  But people whom phase you out are not worth your time, and although it may take a while before you realize that, you will, and then you’ll move on because you are flawless.