"We're dating but we're not exclusive."
"I found his Tinder profile. Does this mean we’re seeing other people?"
"He doesn't take me out, but we always hang out and watch Netflix. That’s a date right?"
"I like her, but I don't know if I like her enough to only be with her."
Quick question- When did dating get so f*cked up? I've only been in the dating game for a semi-short period of time, but I've witnessed enough shit hit the fan to know that the current dating world is not quite like the one my parents were in. We’re living in the time of dating apps, "Netflix and Chill" and everyone's favorite phenomenon, "ghosting" (when a person seemingly just disappears from your life with no explanation or reason). All of this coupled with the fact that at least half of my friends (myself included) come from divorced families, it's safe to say I've always approached dating with an air of extreme caution. I even downright avoid it at times. So my question is- did millennials kill monogamy? Or did our parents?
I started seeing a guy casually for about two months over a year ago. Admittedly, it started as a hookup, but over time we started hanging out during the day, and getting to know more about each other. Nothing really official like dinner dates, or a keep a toothbrush at my place kinda thing. That being said, I tend to act like the guy in relationships so I never really pestered him with annoying questions like “what are we?” or “are we seeing other people?” I remember thinking to myself, is there any “right” way to start a relationship? Part of me really didn’t want to know, and the other part had this sense of hope that we both were just seeing each other, and it was somehow silently understood. Honestly, I liked him and after deep thinking I decided I liked him enough to stop seeing and talking to other guys, a rare personal phenomenon. We shared inside jokes, deep conversations, and affection, similar to that of a real couple. I’m a smart girl, I can differentiate a potential relationship from a booty call.
One night we were hanging out and he grabbed my hand and smiled and said “You know I like you right? You’re one of the few girls I hang out with regularly. And I don’t do that with just anyone.” I remember feeling a rush of happiness at first and then, the true meaning of his words. Few. Few girls. Girls, as in plural. These others girls had to know they weren’t the only ones in his life, were they okay with that? Was I okay with that? Can you still truly like someone, but also truly like someone else? At the same time?
“We’ve got chemistry Ash, but we both know we could never really date. We wouldn’t work. That’s why we hang out, it’s simple and we have fun.”
I had gotten sucked into this foggy cycle of "hanging out," which no one ever explicitly defines or discusses, for fear of scaring the other person off with the notion of exclusivity. You don't want to ask too soon but if you ask too late, that person could have already moved on. Do you see the dilemma? We don't want to get hurt, but we also don't want to be alone.
My friends who were in “real” relationships served as no better models. It seemed as if everyone was getting cheated on, or doing the cheating, and if they weren’t physically cheating, they were about to board the bus there. My friends “boyfriends” had Tinder profiles, dirty Instagram DM’s, and even “side chicks.” It seemed to me that the notion of just having one person to fulfill all of your emotional and physical needs was simply not possible. In fact, people were even starting to cease the ritual of “dating” altogether, swapping chivalrous dinner and drinks for “hanging out.” I’d also like to point out that men weren’t always the offenders in these situations, I myself along with some of my friends have been guilty of serial “hanging out” because let’s be real- no one “hangs out” with just one person. It had become the millennial relationship loophole that so many of us were settling for. But why?
Personally, knowing too many people who's parents had gone through divorces turned me off to the idea of marriage, and even seriously dating. I’d heard too many of my friends say “I never want to end up like my parents.” So maybe the generation before us had a bad track record of maintaining relationships and always divorcing, but you know what makes my generation worse? We aren’t trying to fix it. We view people as temporary, and we use different people to fulfill our different needs. Our laissez-faire approach to monogamy is not the same as being "sexually liberated," a term many use to defend their non-committal ways.
Listen, my fellow millennials- we’re a smart generation and extremely well equipped with knowledge, and the technology to acquire more knowledge. Just because your parents got divorced, your best friend’s parents got divorced, and your boss got divorced, doesn’t mean you will. How do I know that? Because I was taught something that NO ONE teaches you in life- relationship skills.
I’m going to take a minute here and blow some air up my ass because I’m seriously a pro at giving relationship advice (ask any of my best friends) despite the fact that I am not in a serious relationship, and quite frankly never have been. However, I’m completely confident in my ability to communicate and maintain a real relationship with a significant other, previous anecdote told above excluded. I’d be lying if I said that my aunt, Dr.Darcy Sterling (also the host of E’s show Famously Single) and her wife, Stephanie, didn’t play a major role in my relationship education, so when I heard that they were offering a course to bring this incredible information to the masses, I was inspired.
Breaking news: You don’t have to be in a relationship to know how to have a good one.
Think about it- we have so many different relationships besides our romantic ones! These skills are completely transferrable to everyone in your life, and even though I’m mostly Netflix and chilling with my cat and a bottle of Pinot, I feel secure in the fact that I’m capable of one day having a healthy relationship, and I no longer feel the need to settle for a guy who sees me as his Saturday night “hang out.” If you’re interested in reaching my level of enlightenment, I’ve got good news. It’s a program called ‘Relationship Skills Boot Camp’ and I’m pretty positive it might change your life.
Learn more about Dr.Darcy’s Relationship Skills Boot Camp here, so you can stop emotionally dumping on your friends and start living your life.
There is also a free webinar tonight (September 6) hosted by Darcy and Steph to discuss the topic of "How You Know You're Meant to be Together."
I highly recommend single folks take it too, you’ll learn a lot about yourself and why some of your past relationships haven’t worked (like the one I shared above). I’m not perfect, but at least I’m armed with the knowledge of my flaws and how to try and fix them.
Note: this is not an advertisement and I'm not being compensated for this post. All opinions and views are my own.