In college, a lot of relationships begin with “talking” which I always thought was really strange. I remember the first time I heard about it when I asked a friend if she was dating said frat guy and she said, “No, but we’re talking.” And I thought, “Well I sure hope you’re talking if you’re hooking up every night.” The term “talking” has come to mean dating-and-kind-of-exclusive-but-not-really-in-a-relationship. We live in a world where we have -ishes (those that are boyfriend/girlfriend-ish) so how do you know when you’re actually in a serious, exclusive relationship? Here are some tell-tale signs in no particular order:
1. Regular texts, phone calls, or other modes of communication: A hookup buddy is not going to text you and ask how your day is going or tell you good luck on your psychology test. If you’re with someone who is in pretty much constant communication with you, it’s a good sign that you’re actually dating.
2. Public Displays of Affection: Friends with benefits don’t hold hands, kiss or show any signs of PDA because, well, when you’re not in bed, you’re just friends. Now, some people are finicky about PDA and just won’t do it so if your guy is shy about it, that’s okay.
3. You eat almost every meal together: Yes, fourth meal at Taco Bell counts. If he’s asking you to get Taco Bell, sober, for a study break, that’s a decent indication you’re more that just talking. It’s normal for you to call each other and decide on where you’re going to eat that night.
4. Spending multiple nights a week at each others’ places: You’re over there on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and he’s at your place Tuesdays and Thursdays. You keep a toothbrush and have clothes in each others’ apartments. He has your favorite brand of orange juice squeezed in (hehe) between cases of beer.
5. You have a routine: He picks you up from class, you two go to the library to study, get dinner, hang out, have fun, sleep, repeat.
6. Opinions matter: You ask his opinion on things and vice versa. You actually care what he thinks about you taking that job or dropping that ridiculously hard class. His thoughts matter to you and create an impact on your decision-making. You’re in a relationship.
7. Friends with the friends: His friends are important to him, so the fact that he told them about you is good. And if they like you that’s great. If you’ve become sort of friends with them, even better. Now, that doesn’t mean you should hang out with his friends when he isn’t there unless it’s a mutual friend that you shared before said relationship. Girl hanging out with his friends without guy is shady business.
8. Meeting the parents: If either one of you has been introduced to the family, that’s a big step and isn’t something for just a casual fling. Meeting the parents is not something to be taken lightly. He’s definitely serious about your relationship if he’s taking you home to Mom and Dad.
9. You talk about feelings and stuff: You won’t talk about how you feel with a hookup. If he talks about his feelings toward you and discusses the elusive future, it’s more than “talking.”
10. He introduces you as his girlfriend: Well, there ya go.
While these are some indications of being in a relationship, they aren’t set in stone. If you’re confused about the status of your -ish, then you need to talk about it. Yeah bringing up “that talk” is scary and could end whatever is going on if you’re not on the same page, but it’s better you know early on before you fall too deep. Communication is key in relationships, and if you’re “talking” to someone and you’re unsure of what’s going on, then have the talk!