With the undefined relationship status becoming commonplace within the dating scene, how is it possible to end something that is completely undefined and exists merely on the basis of this ambiguity?
The languidly applied label of ‘seeing someone’ with all of its associated confusion is exciting until it dawns on you that it will either end, or evolve into something more. It almost feels like you have to jump the gun and make a few fully loaded assumptions before you can be brutally honest about the fact that you don’t want to be in something you’re not sure if you are in. After the initial few dates with a new romantic interest there quickly comes a time to make a decision to either discontinue seeing them, or, to try and turn what you’ve established into a traditional relationship. Maybe. Usually it’s around date 3 that things get a little hazy and the intentions of the pairing will slowly become apparent. That is, it’ll either start moving very quickly (because you’re both into it) or there’ll be a shift in the dynamic and one person will be more invested while the other will begin to pull away.
In this article I’ll address the latter; what happens when you suspect that the tectonic plates of the earth are not shifting underneath the weight of passion that you have with a new romantic interest? What are the options when nothing bad has happened, they don't appear to be a serial killer and it would be easy enough to go on a date with them again? Nothing is really wrong except that you habitually whinge to your flatmate about him being 'too nice', 'too boring', or 'too immature' and deep down you know that after each date you end up feeling riddled with guilt that while they’re slowly growing fonder of the idea of a relationship with you, you’re considering going on the Bachelor to meet the next Matty J.
Option 1: Continue dating them and feign excitement/interest/passion until you’re stuck with no way out except for marriage, discontent and a secret drinking habit.
Option 2: Play dead and start ignoring them. This could mean anything from slowly lessening the frequency of communication, giving one-word answers or pretending that you’ve fallen off the face of the earth. This comes with the consequences of a huge guilty conscience though, and if you’re a woman considering this option, please take a moment to remember all of the times you were upset because you didn’t know why a man had suddenly fallen off the face of the planet after 3 amazing dates and didn’t have the common decency to just tell you that he wasn’t interested.
Option 3: Instigate the phase out. It’s a subtler version of Option 2 and the equivalent of disappearing at a party in the hope that no one will notice. Should your date have a slice of intelligence to their name they’ll pick up on what’s happening fairly quickly and either ask you about it, or, get the hint and quietly accept the phase out.
Option 4: Obviously the most mature option is to communicate that you don’t want to continue seeing each other because (insert reason here). It’s important that you tell the truth, because ultimately there are feelings at stake and you don’t want to cause the analytical discomfort of ‘not knowing’. Of course, it’s okay to soften the truth, but always make sure there’s an element of authenticity there.
Whether you do this in person or via the phone is entirely dependent on the scenario itself but you’ll need to be prepared for some awkwardness. Anything more mature than 5 dates warrants a face to face conversation. You do, unfortunately have to be brave enough to admit that you think the thus far casual arrangement is going somewhere enough for it to warrant a conversation. You also have to be strong enough to stick to your guns and be confident that failing to have this conversation would be considered as leading them on.
If in doubt, just add gin.