Expectations of a Romeo and Juliet (minus the dying) or Gatsby and Daisy (minus the dying) love story is far beyond reach with our eyes fixated on our screens and our thumbs typing ferociously. The talking stage, or what I like to call “getting your feelings together,” is when two people get to know each other, most often over text, and try to determine their interest in pursuing a romantic relationship.
I will proudly say that I haven’t fallen victim to the talking stage. I like to live on the edge and, *gasp,* date in real life. But, I’ve seen first-hand from my close friends how “what’s your favourite colour?” has, again and again, failed them, and wasted their time. While getting to know someone is an integral part of building a romantic connection, doing so over text for long periods of time takes away from the beauty of old-school dating. The kind where you look into your date’s eyes, get butterflies, and wonder if you’ll get a kiss at the end. Now, you’ve got the kind of “dating” where you dread that “read” receipt.
The talking stage has revealed our generation’s commitment issues. An unspoken rule of this state of limbo is to avoid, at all costs, the question: “what are we?” And the result? Nothing. Literally. Months of texting ending in the realization that you are not compatible—a conclusion you could’ve come to in a few face-to-face interactions. Because sparks do (or don’t) fly in person, while over text, your perception of the other person is based on words.
And often, the talking stage is used as a justification for infidelity. Since boundaries aren’t defined, and usually, one person is more invested than the other, the talking stage offers the freedom to “play the field” and not feel guilty about it. It doesn’t have any rules—the kind where you declare if you’re exclusive or simultaneously “dating” half the Toronto area. So, while you’re getting to know someone, they may be getting to know someone else—and that’s the norm.
The successful talking stage, where “what are you up to today?” and “what are you watching on Netflix right now?” amounts to something, can breed unhealthy dating habits. Getting used to constant and empty communication, can, despite a label, lead to attachment issues. You don’t need to talk to someone every second of every day. Phone glued to your hands; your life starts to revolve around a string of text messages instead of valuable memories. It becomes a habit. Someone you barely know gets to control your mood and how the rest of the day unfolds.
The chase can be addicting, but it’s ruining our ability to connect. Getting to know someone should be exciting. But pressing letters on a keyboard, and carefully selecting emojis has become our way to build relationships, or so we tell ourselves.