Dating in the Grey Area and Why I Plan to Stay There… For Now
“Mum, we’re just sort of ‘seeing each other, Okay?”
The classic line I hear myself using each time I leave London to visit family, in what I increasing come to think of as, my backwards little home town. Now that I live in the big bad city of London I have come to think of suburbia, rather smugly, as a stifling little ring of people who have settled for each other in little boxes on the outskirts of little towns.
School friends are all but married in their mid twenties; committing to mortgages, thinking about children, even researching the good schools and checking out the local register… Now there’s a grim thought.
I’ve never wanted to settle. And, that’s what I see when I look home.
London on the other hand is exciting and fast and I can, if I wanted to, find a new date every day of the week. It’d be a lot of admin, but it’s doable. Dating apps are homing devises, singles nights act as cattle ranches for the prowl; London is the land of opportunity if you’re single and willing.
But when you meet someone you like, and you’re forced to say, “Mum, we’re just sort of seeing each other, Okay?” is it Okay? Unsettled becomes unsettling and I begin to think maybe suburbia has it right. Maybe safe little boxes with safe loving people wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
This craze for non committal grey area dating seems to be born out of the ease and necessity of using dating apps to meet people. Especially when you live in a city full of expressionless suits and a zero eye contact etiquette policy.
But presented with what seems to be endless hoards of singletons at your disposable it’s very easy to begin dating without ditching the habit. Dating whilst wondering whether someone better might come along. Dating without the commitment.
The non-committal grey area is a tricky place to sit still.
I met him on one of those dating apps we all have, notifications buzzing, in our pockets: A stream of endless singles on tap and ready to swipe. But, surprisingly we hit it off. I didn’t wish he’d looked a tad more like his profile pictures and when he tried to kiss me at the end of date one I let him.
Things continued with that slow trickle of progression that lends itself to modern relationships… and when you’re trying desperately to ‘Play It Cool’. By date three we’d held hands in public, date four I’d stayed over and around maybe date seven or eight we committed to being ‘friends’ on Facebook. Around month two I had a toothbrush at his flat and he’d kept a stash of the brand of condoms he liked in my top drawer. This had to be serious.
But one Sunday afternoon he introduced me to an old acquaintance as his ‘friend’ and I knew we were far from out of the grey area.
No I haven’t deleted the dating apps but neither has he. Notifications might be switched to off, but I still spot the icons lurking when he opens his phone to show me a funny post on his mate’s instagram. We’re both playing it safe and it’s driving me nuts!
It’s a truth universally acknowledge that the single most attractive quality in a woman is sanity. Strangely this is not the same for men. Most women want men with a good sense of humour or a large… bank balance, ahead of a grasp on reality.
So I’ve held it together as best I can, locking away my ‘crazy’.
“Mum, we’re just sort of ‘seeing each other, Okay?”
I like him so of course my insides are dancing around whenever I see him and while I’m with him it’s hard to steer the conversation away from the danger grounds of, ‘where is this going?’
Because deep down I’m a pessimist. Because deep down there’s another version of me looking over my shoulder for the next girl on his dating app who might just be a little better than me. Slimmer, funnier, more intelligent, a little more sane than I am. Or should that be saner..?
So I hold it in and I have, for now, resolved to wait.
But why would anyone choose to stay in the grey?
I’m a pretty excitable person. If I like you I really like you and we’ll hang out and I’ll offer to carry your shopping and I want to know all about your day and what’s bothering you at work. But if I love you, I decide fast and hard and I’ll carry all those worries and bothers as well as your groceries. That’s just the way I work.
I appreciate that’s a little full on and while I think it’s nice, and I’m buzzing about how sweet I’m being, I know full well I might be pushing you away, just a little.
So I find myself in the grey area again. But the difference is I’ve never seen it through before. By which I mean I’ve never waited before, I’ve never been patient enough to get to the other side, or to know even if there is another side!
I’ve always been that ‘lets have a talk’ girl and I have to tell you, it’s done more harm than good, thus far. Communication might be key, but communicating something that isn’t ready to be said can have the reverse effect to everything you’re trying to say.
I’m a believer in doing something until it’s not fun anymore or until it’s not what you want. But I do think that I just get to that point sooner than other people. I wonder what would or could happen if I could be able to just chill for a moment and let things be. Rather than talking through what I want them to be.
You can’t force a feeling from someone or yourself and whilst I know having a clear mind for what you want is a good thing, and sticking to those ideals will ultimately make you happy, sometimes patients can really be a virtue.
Of course weighing the pros and cons is a muddle you need to sort through on your own. But maybe just give it a minute. Wait and see.
If you’re with someone, doing all those things that look like a relationship and being treated all the ways that you’d hope to be whilst in a relationship, the chances are that’s what will follow. Admittedly the balance is hard and it’s something I struggle with whilst looking for the light within my own grey, but it’s there.
A wise person once told me that love is rarely bestowed upon those looking for it. Instead it’s almost cruelly granted to the people who are already happy. Who don’t care about searching for the one, because they’re already loving life, and radiating happiness. Translation: No one ever fell in love with a desperate romantic.
Actually, that wise person was an Ex, but that’s neither here nor there.
So I’m in the grey area and I’m going to give it a chance: Because, you can’t force a feeling, or a relationship.
There are two of you in the grey area and sometimes you’re going to have to wait for the other person to catch up. I’m going to give it a chance. I’m not going to focus on the relationship so hard, loose perspective, and start pulling things out of proportion. Let’s see what’s on the other side of the grey.
“Mum, we’re just sort of seeing each other.”
And for now, that’s okay.