What does “talking” even mean?

Texting

My love life, if you can even call it that, has been the intrigue of my two brothers for some time. This is mostly due to my refusal to talk about it (I’m both a private person and a bit of a prude), but they constantly try. It wasn’t until we were at a family event that I shared my most recent romantic endeavors: I was ghosting two different guys for two very different reasons.

The first guy accidentally turned the one-night stand into two nights. The entire thing was fine with a capital F, I simply had no interest in seeing him again.

The second had a girlfriend. That was over before it even began. 

It was information that I shared knowing my brothers would never meet these men. They were no longer in my DMs, not for lack of trying on their parts. Of course, it was then that my older brother raised a rather annoying question: if I’m ghosting these guys, am I actually talking to anyone?

This question irked me. Partly because it was my brother asking, and partly because, no, I wasn’t “talking” to anyone. In fact, I’ve always hated the concept of “talking.”

The thing is, I enjoy concretes. You’re either a cat person or you’re not. You either like long walks on the beach or you don’t. You’re either dating or you’re not. Simple, straightforward, black and white. 

Granted, gray areas can be fun. There should be a fluid line of what’s an acceptable outfit for class and what ice cream is the best because those are opinions that involve you and only you. If I wear a ballgown to my 9 a.m., it does not affect anyone else. The second I tell you that you aren’t allowed to wear sweatpants though, that’s over the line.

Gray is good when it can exist as both a black in your mind and a white in someone else’s. For example, peanut butter. It’s my favorite food group (black). But my brother is allergic (white). A situation that is completely fine. Gray isn’t okay when it can only exist as either a black or white. For instance, if we only bought peanut butter to survive on during the quarantine, one of us would get to eat and the other would go hungry.

But, back to my argument. Talking is not defined, it’s a societal gray. Worse, it means something different to everyone. If I think we’re talking, you may think of me as a fling. If you think we’re talking, we might be. Or I might be telling my friends, “He HAS to stop texting me, it’s just creepy at this point.” 

“Talking” is a socially acceptable way to put off defining any form of relationship, which is fine, so long as you both are aware of it. 

The issue I have is that talking, more often than not, exists in a vacuum. One person is so sure that this situationship is going to turn into something, and the other has no intention of ever being more than a hookup. Neither is bad, but the defining part is the thing that matters.

There’s a chance that you are part of the group that enjoys this ambiguity. You may find it fun to be talking to multiple people at once. Maybe you like that undefined stage where you’re exploring all of your options or just don’t want to commit. Great! But, let me ask you this: do the people you’re talking to know that you’re keeping your options open? 

If they do, this paragraph is not for you. If they don’t, if that person thinks they are the sole receiver of your flirty texts and is the only one who can truly capture your heart, that is the issue. When you define your own situation without telling your other half (or third, or fourth) what you’re doing, that’s the bad type of gray area. 

So let’s go back to the question at hand: “Am I actually talking to anyone?”

The answer I’ve set myself up for is “no.” 

This is less about whether everyone should be in defined relationships and more about giving real names to whatever it is you’re doing. If you like having a few things going at once, go for it, but let them know what is happening. If you want to date that person you’ve been hooking up with, tell them you want to figure it out. It can still be talking or a situationship. In fact, it can be called whatever the hell you want it to be. 

Me saying I’m not talking to anyone is not because I have a “holier than thou” attitude – it takes actual guts to make it through the talking stage. Rather,  I refuse to define something on my own that needs to be a collective decision. 

As soon as there’s something labeled, we’ll be the first to tell you.

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