You’re not dating, you’re talking. What does that even mean? How do you navigate that part of dating and get past the talking stage?

The dreaded talking stage. To some, this is a nice place to be, that in-between spot after the initial introductions but before you’re actually dating. It can be confusing. It can feel like it goes on forever. And it can even be really enjoyable. But, the talking stage is different for everyone. Some people love it and others hate it. It can be frustrating or relaxing. It all depends on you, how you view dating, and your connection with whomever you’re talking to.

What is the talking stage?

The talking stage is the time where you get to know someone but aren’t sure how interested you are. You know you like them enough to learn more, but aren’t sure enough to actually start dating them. Although this part of dating can be annoying because not everyone enters or leaves this stage at the same time, it is so important.

This is the stage where you learn basics about each other that are really important. The talking stage can happen when you’re chatting online or dating the old-fashioned way. Use this time to talk about anything and everything, like TV shows, sports, and your job.

This is usually the time you also get to know each other’s dealbreakers. You likely won’t see each other’s flaws, but you’ll share things that are important in your life. You’ll find out if they like traveling, they’ll find out if you smoke, you’ll learn their political leaning, and they’ll learn your religion.

This talking stage can be confused with dating, but it is the period before two people actually start dating. It is when you are taking a step away from strangers or acquaintances but may not necessarily be hurtling toward romance either. This is the time when you feel each other out. You won’t be sharing your feelings necessarily, but you’ll get to know if you have feelings. The talking stage is when you find out if you’re both interested enough to start dating.

What happens in the talking stage? 

But it isn’t always as simple as it sounds. It seems like it would be, when you text before deciding to meet up or after a date or two before knowing if you really click. Sometimes it is true, but if you’ve dated, you know it gets more complicated than that.

Generally, the talking stage is what happens before feelings get involved. It is the part of dating that isn’t dating. At this point, there shouldn’t be expectation or pressure. There isn’t a label of dating. You aren’t exclusive and can be in this stage with multiple people at once. You can be talking and flirting with multiple people, as long as they aren’t under the impression that they’re the only one.

This is also usually a time when you’re unsure of the other person’s feelings or intentions. You’re talking and getting to know each other but aren’t sure where it’s headed. This is a time a lot of people would say they are feeling things out. You’re trying to see if there is something there or not. You probably find the person you’re talking to at least mildly attractive, but you aren’t sure if you want to move forward.

The talking stage could be seen as limbo. It is the place in between knowing you’re dating someone you’re interested in and just meeting them. And everything that happens during the talking stage is up in the air. This stage could end at any moment due to ghosting. Although the talking stage shouldn’t lack respect and decency, it often is.

It could also be turned into dating or a friendship. It could be ended with a nice text saying you aren’t interested. This stage implies there are no obligations. You are simply talking with no rules or implications but a lot of confusion. Pretty much, the talking stage is before you get to the open and honest communication stage.

How long is the talking stage? 

This is a hard question to answer because it is so different for everyone. The talking stage for some could be a week and for others, it could be months. You may leave the talking stage after your first date because you felt a spark and shared a kiss.

For me, the talking stage with my boyfriend lasted until around date three. We were talking for about three weeks before we really declared our interest in each other. We then began dating for about two months before officially being in a relationship.

But, this is so unique to each person and each pair. Not everyone enters and leaves these stages at the same pace. I was lucky. The biggest complication is that it lasts a different length for everyone. After two weeks, you may be ready to move forward while the person you’re talking to is fine the way things are.

This is what makes the talking stage so confusing. You aren’t confident in your connection enough to outwardly share your feelings, but if you have them and they don’t feel ready to progress to the next stage, you get hurt.

The talking stage to many is also fair game for ghosting. So, during that time if one person loses all interest, they may just stop talking while the other person is left waiting. This is where the talking stage becomes so frustrating. It could take one conversation to know you aren’t interested in someone, but sometimes it takes weeks or months.

While someone is figuring out if they like you and if you click, you could be silently planning your wedding.

Essentially, the talking stage should start after first being introduced or meeting. On a dating app, I would say, it’s when you’ve gone from the app to texting.

This can then go on until you express your feelings and intentions. Maybe before even meeting them, you say how surprised you are by how fast you’re catching feelings. Maybe after the first date you know you’re interested and don’t want to talk to anyone else and you’re on the same page.

For others, you could be in this stage while talking to other people. You may go on dates and be feeling things out. Maybe after two dates, you realize they aren’t for you and then the talking stage ends. You could be talking to someone else and after a month realize you like them.

All in all, the talking stage can be a nice time to get to know each other layered with confusion and necessary patience.

How to get past the talking stage

My best advice to navigate the talking stage is, to be honest. When you realize you’re interested in someone, say it. You don’t have to have intentions or be over the top, just let them know you’re interested, and that you’re not seeing anyone else. This is a good place to start.

After a few dates with my boyfriend, I told him I deleted the dating app we met on because I liked him, and he said the same. This is when we went from talking to dating. It wasn’t until a couple of months later we became an official item. If I hadn’t said anything, we could’ve both been feeling that way for much longer without knowing how the other felt.

If you’re in the talking stage and want to move on to dating, it won’t just happen because you want it to. You can sit in the talking stage for months just pining for something more because you’re afraid to make a move or say something. You don’t have to jump from talking into a relationship, but going from talking to dating is a nice transition.

This gets you out of the funk and confusion of the talking stage and into a point where you can share your feelings.

The only way to move past the talking stage is to say something. Tell the person you’re talking to that you’re interested in them and aren’t seeing anyone else. Yes, this could end things if they aren’t on the same page as you, but that is okay. This is the reason a lot of people will linger in the talking stage. They’re afraid if they say something, that everything will end. And they’d rather have this unsettling confusion than ruin things by being honest.

No matter who you are, you’ve watched a “will they, won’t they” TV show and screamed at the screen for one person to just say how they feel so it can be out in the open and they could move on together or apart. Well, this is that moment for you.

If you don’t share how you feel, you’ll never know what could have happened. Maybe they aren’t on the same page as you. Maybe they want to keep getting to know you. Or maybe they want to end things. But, isn’t that better than not knowing?

Rejection in the moment stings. But in the long run, is so worth it. Plus, you’ll never break out of the talking stage if you don’t say something. It is scary, but there is no subtle way to take that step and get past the talking stage. If you can share that you’re interested and are open to more, that is enough to lay down some sort of intention and move forward.

So, are you ready to move past the talking stage? Remember these steps, take a deep breath, communicate your thoughts and move beyond just talking.

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