In my mother’s time, when Cliff Richard was a heartthrob and when a boy and a girl became boyfriend and girlfriend, they would call it “going steady.” If a boy kissed a girl, he would be “getting fresh” with her. Growing up, I would cringe if my mum asked me if I was going steady with a boy. I still cringe when she asks if there’s a “young man in my life.” It makes me feel like I’ve just stepped off a carriage into the worlds of Anne of Green Gables or Pride and Prejudice, which, albeit charming, are a tad archaic.
Like me, I presume that the single women of the thirty-something generation, have been sitting on our couches, eating ice-cream, watching Bridget Jones’s Diary and repeating that line over and over – “He likes me just the way I am.” And boom – midway through our screechy renditions of All By Myself, we’ve suddenly realised that the dating world has changed dramatically. You realise you’re not part of the Elvis generation but you’re not of the Shake It Off-Taylor Swift generation either, which means you’re in the no-man’s land of dating. You’re in the Bermuda Triangle of dating – where people still call shorts, Bermudas.
Upon waking up in Area 51 of boy-meets-girl, I decided to consult with the young ones in my office who seem at ease and au fait with all terms dating related. They were eager to help an aunty out and provided some very useful wisdom. These, ladies and gentlemen, are the terms and stages of engagement as they stand at 2015:
Stage 1: We’re chatting
You went on a night out and kissed someone or just met someone at a pool party and now you’re chatting on Whatsapp. There’s no commitment; it’s nothing serious, just flirtatious and perhaps a bit of Facebook stalking.
Stage 2: Hooking Up
According to my young advisors, this is generally “when the shit starts.” For guys, this stage is just about sex. They prefer you to other girls but will not turn down other opportunities. This is possibly a once-a-week occurrence. For girls, this stage is tricky. Girls know that they are not exclusive with the guy but most girls wouldn’t hook up with other guys at this stage to avoid a “slutty” reputation.
Stage 3: Kinda vibing/Kinda seeing
You see each other on weekends and maybe once during the week. You’re not going to hook up with anyone else but still there’s no real commitment. For girls, this might also be called “A Thing”. For guys, “A Thing” is only the next stage.
Stage 4: Vibing/Seeing/A Thing
This is a level up. It includes seeing each other more frequently; perhaps some sleep overs – without leaving after breakfast.
Stage 5: I’m with…/I’m dating…
You are pretty much a couple but you have not defined the relationship and haven’t put it up on Facebook.
Stage 6: Boyfriend/Girlfriend
Quote my young colleagues: “Obvious.”
What all of this means, is you should thank your lucky stars if you’re safely wedded and not still trying to hook up at thirty-something. It also means that either I have to turn into a Cougar, or find a man my age who has decoded the social-togetherness conundrum.
Shew. Between chatting, hanging, right swiping, vibing, sort-of-seeing, I feel that there are a lot of ‘ings’ out there including beginnings and sharp endings. If it’s okay with the dating world, I might just stay in the Bermuda Triangle for a while longer. Perhaps there, I might encounter my Mr Darcy who maybe wouldn’t mind going out for a coffee.