In contemporary terms, when is a relationship a relationship?

This is the thing about contemporary dating, there’s a lot of room for drifting.

This can be a bad thing for women of a certain age, with a certain mindset. Those early thirties women who have spent the greater part of their twenties drinking cocktails in classy bars, spending weekends away in Europe, or drinking themselves silly every Friday and Saturday night to wash away the bore of the mid-week grind, only to wake up on the day of their third friends wedding with a killer hangover and the shadow of pending children and anniversaries looming over them.

Panic strikes. Realization kicks in. They’re the single friend, the one who arrives at every event with a new date. With no back love story. They will stand speechless listening to all the couples around them discussing pricy kitchen appliances (which they don’t have yet) and children’s swimming lessons (you need the child first). How did this happen? Words will block her mouth like boulders, leaving her mute and gagging. Inferiority had never been a problem – until now. Oh the thought brings a knot to their stomach. Because like it or lump it, she was done with the party girl lifestyle years ago, she just never found the man to run away from it with. How does this cycle ever end? When will her crying ovaries ever be satisfied? When will the next great stage of life begin?

Here’s when.

A few months ago my good friend Leah meet a man outside a bar, not just any man, an old friend; she dated him for more than a month. She is in fact, still dating him. Then one morning she woke abruptly thinking, Holy crap – I like him. A lot. A little bit of fear trickled in because she hasn’t a clue where this is going. Why would she? It’s not like they’ve talked boundaries, or futures, or anything in fact outside of the here and now, which is filling her weeknights to the limit and every waking moment. But when does it become more? When, she wonders, does it get to the place where he feels a sense of responsibility toward her, of commitment that means putting her first? She’s hoping it’s soon because somewhere in the whirlwind of this romance, she has begun making him a priority. This is the awkward stepping stone between happy go lucky dating and a relationship. The prior has all the fun of love without the restraints, the second leads to weddings and babies and if you’re really lucky, you get to join in the kitchen appliance chat at dinner parties with your own sordid love story. She wants the latter and not because he’s the first guy to come along when she was ready for the next life step, but because he was the first guy that made her feel she could do it without the slightest regret to letting go of her singledom.

So when is a relationship a relationship – I guess it’s the moment when you both want nothing more than each other.

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