By Mpho Sathekge
Dating these days is a joke. And not a very funny one at that. I don’t know if it’s because our generation started dating before we hit puberty or whether these social networks have ruined what was once a beautiful thing, but the truth is that dating these days is horrible.
Half the damn time you won’t even know if you’re actually dating or not. What was once explainable using a single digit binary code now requires the decimal system.
It’s no longer “Are you dating?” or “Are you not dating?” There are now different stages, one hardly distinguishable from the other – at least while on the inside.
Looking from the outside in, on the other hand, gives shape to the confusing and convoluted dating culture that we have created for ourselves. Here are the more easily recognizable stages:
1. The One-Night Stand.
Regardless of whether you met on the street, in a night club in JHB, at your yoga class or in the park, the first date tallies up to one thing: either a successful or failed one-night stand.
It doesn’t matter what the initial intentions are – not as if you know what the other person’s intentions are anyway – on the first date you’re either sleeping together or not. Depending on the results of this stage, you’ll move on to stage 2.
2. The Second Glance.
Seeing as how you were probably highly intoxicated the first time around, you decide to see this person one more time. This decision is most likely the result of you not being certain whether or not the person was good in bed.
You managed to black out sometime in the middle of it all and can’t figure out whether the person was the best or worst sex of your life. Round 2 it is.
3. The Booty Call.
You have officially dubbed him/her, or have been dubbed, worthy of sexual pursuit. Congratulations! You can now move on to phase 3: the booty call. Now it is acceptable for you to text this person at odd hours, preferably when you’re intoxicated or about to be intoxicated, to come over.
In this stage, it isn’t recommended that you refrain from calling the person or see him/her without drinking heavily or taking drugs – it may be awkward. I mean, you’ve only been intimate a dozen times or so… slow down already.
4. The Friend With Benefits.
This is the first stage when you actually matter to the person more than any other slab of meat would. You put in the time and effort, your liver has certainly paid for it and it is now time to finally get to know the person you’ve been having sex with all this time.
Talking is recommended, but beware of throwing any romance into the mix. You’re friends. Not lovers. Keep all the lovey-dovey romance stuff to yourself and, whatever you do, do not look him/her in the eyes when in the midst of coitus. When you’re done, finish with a firm handshake or a high five.
5. The Date.
Not sure how you did it – most never make it this far – but you did it… you are now going on your first official date. You’re not yet “dating” in the traditional sense, but you are going on dates.
I understand this can be confusing, but what about this process isn’t? The first couple of dates are crucial as they will decide whether or not you will be moving forward to the following stages or if the two of you will be “too busy” to see each other in coming weeks.
This is one of the trickiest stages as often it can lead to being bumped up a few stages ahead of schedule. Or, as I have already mentioned, it could be the end of the road.
6. The Fling.
After a couple of dates, it turns out that you aren’t really interested in each other. You enjoy sleeping with each other and even enjoy each other’s company, but you can’t see yourself together in the long run.
The feeling is mutual – you both know that whatever it is that the two of you have going on won’t last very long, but you decide that you want to have fun while it does. Flings are fun and usually harmless. However, this stage can look a lot like stage seven: the stepping-stone.
7. The Stepping-Stone.
This stage is like the fling stage with one critical difference: Only one of you knows that the relationship won’t last. While you might be beginning to consider the other a real partner, the other thinks of you as a means of getting into someone else’s pants.
Well, maybe not exactly a means of getting there, but a comfortable resting area while you look for a better watering hole. You like the sex and you even like the person you’re having sex with… you just don’t want to be with him/her for the long haul.
You consider this person a necessary stepping-stone before you can settle with the right person – or he/she considers you as such. One of you is going to get hurt after this process… but you may have skipped it entirely and moved on to stage 8.
8. The Backup.
You have now been dubbed – or vice versa – good enough to be with. Unfortunately, you’re not good enough to be with right now. You’re good enough to keep around in case things don’t work out with anyone else, but to date you, really date you, at the moment would be silly.
These sorts of relationships get incredibly complicated, neither party really knowing what is going on as neither wants to completely let go.
The good news is, you have a safety net to fall on in case nothing else works out. Or at least you do at the moment. No one wants to be a backup indefinitely.
9. The Boyfriend/Girlfriend.
Wow. I mean, seriously. You should be proud of yourself. Making it all the way to official status in our day and age is impressive – well done. You can now throw on the romance and allow yourself to finally have feelings for the individual.
You can start to be yourself and begin to actually care for the person you have been “intimate” with for oh-so very long. The only thing that you should keep in mind is that getting here doesn’t guarantee that you graduate from the dating scene to marital status.
In fact, most relationships of such caliber fail miserably. But cheer up! You can at least update your Facebook status and make all your friends jealous!
10. Lost In Translation.
This isn’t so much a stage as it is the platform holding all these stages. In this day and age just about everything gets lost in translation, but mostly because there is very little communication to actually translate.
Most people keep themselves closed off and sheltered, regardless of how intimate they’ve become with another person. Everybody is afraid to get hurt and afraid of possibly, inadvertently, giving up the opportunity to get into someone better’s pants.
Most of the time you won’t know what stage you’re in, were in or are headed to. You won’t be sure if the person cares about you or is only using you for amusement. The theory is that, with time, you’ll either find someone who won’t take you down this road.
Maybe it will come with maturity. Maybe you won’t be alone forever. Or maybe you’ll get to run through these stages for the rest of your life. No one knows! That’s half the fun!