The Nomenclature of Being Single

I have a “friend” who has recently joined the ranks of the newly single status and as service to this friend I would like to pass on a few pointers on proper terms and nomenclature about Being Single. There are few things as confusing as describing one’s “status” after years or decades of checking the box marked “married” on governmental forms.

Casual Dating:
“Hey, what’cha doing tonight? Wanna go to a movie? Cool.” That’s casual dating, no plans beyond that day, no commitment to anything except the stated movie, beer, whatever. Regardless of the “casualness” of the date, don’t be mistaken, there’s an interest or attraction between the participants, that’s why it’s a “date” (if there is not actual “attraction” see “Just Friends” below).

Casual Dating No-Nos:
Never use the “L” word (alas, in this context the “L” word is not “Lesbian” but “Love”). Telling one’s “casual date” “I love you” automatically disqualifies it’s “casual date” status. Affection and sex are negotiable, but be forewarned that in this era of AIDs, physical intimacy tends to complicate things and should be avoided if one wishes to maintain one’s “casual dating” status. As with the kissing or sex, accepting gifts in the context of “casual dating” tends to complicate things and may imply a greater commitment than one had intended. Another casual dating no-no is calling or expecting “daily” calls. Remember, there’s no commitment to anything here.

Serious Dating/Boyfriend/Girlfriend Relationships:
Serious dating covers a broad spectrum of relationships. Exclusivity is the core difference between casual dating and serious dating. Using the “L” word is generally expected, as is some form of physical/sexual intimacy. Some level of continuous communication (calling, seeing one another, IMing) tends to be expected. Serious dating is NOT necessarily the same as engagement. See “engagement” below.

Serious Dating No-Nos:
Breaking the “Exclusivity” with another simultaneous dating relationship (by definition “casual” because “serious” requires exclusivity that isn’t possible with a second relationship). Going days with no communication or disappearing for days without prior notification that one will be out of contact is another no-no.

Exclusive relationship with an expectation for marriage. A marriage date is not required at the beginning of the engagement period, but continually delaying deciding on a date risks “engagement” status.

Engagement No-Nos:
See “Serious Date No-Nos.” Oh yeah, still being married to someone else would not work well with “engagement.”

Just Friends:I left this category for the end because it can be the most problematic. “Just friends” tends to be casual dating gone awry. “Just friends” also tends to be a unfortunate compromise for an “interested” participant to hang out with a participant who is less interested. Groups going out together qualify as “just friends” or groups that include singles and significant others.

Just Friends No-Nos:
Sex… well, there is the category “Friends-who-Fuck” but this is about “healthy” relationships. As with “casual dating,” accepting gifts, except for birthdays and christmas, is another “just friends” no-no. Continually going out with a “just friends” person, excluding significant other is another “just friends” no-no.

In Conclusion
One should not say “I love you” or accept gifts from a “casual dating” or “just friends” person. Conversely, if one is in an “I love you”-type relationship, one should not expect it to be okay to date other people. Finally, while the term “dating” has tended to imply some kind of “relationship test-drive,” it is not limited to “I’ll pick you up at 7” and the guy paying. Dating is when two people of some interest in one another get together regardless of who pays and whether there are others present. JBB