Volume 3, Number 11
By Fiona Jane
When are you officially 'in a relationship'?
Is it like passing 'Go' , once fully around the board and you collect the tag 'partner', or is it measured by time? The number of dates? How far youíve gone with the person, or how long you think you're going to last with them?
I really donít understand where the line is drawn. When I was younger it was far easier; whoever blew spit balls at the back of your head in class liked you and whoever tried to kiss you in the playground was your boyfriend. Once you were 'going round' together, you had a finite time of about two weeks, at the end of which you then told Rachel to tell Paul to tell Andy to tell Christian that he was dropped. Then you started all over again.
Oh for those happy well-defined days again. Now it's far too complicated. You meet someone you're interested in, subtly check out all their good and bad points (easy tip: ask the object of your affections' sister when she's really drunk) and then wait to be asked out on a date, or take the initiative and *gulp* ask them out yourself.
Assuming that you haven't been rejected at this stage, you then proceed to play the dating game. The first date is usually pretty bad. The nervous and highly neurotic sounding laugh, the total inability to accurately describe what you do at work and an awful compulsion to drink far too much alcohol, especially as you're only going to the zoo.
Anyway, you know what I mean. Second dates are slightly better. You relax a bit more, only visit the bathroom three times and manage to tell a slightly dirty joke that your best friend 'lent' you for the occasion; not only do you remember the punch-line but they really think it's funny.
From then on, if the chemistry is right, it gets easier and easier. They always ring you when they are supposed to. You start buying new clothes to wear out with them and telling your friends to shut up when they start teasing you about the new 'love of your life'. When you find yourself at their house happily watching a video in your tracksuit pants and eating pizza out of a box on a Saturday night - that's when you know something serious is going on. Going....
And serious it becomes. As your feelings grow for the other person, it gets a bit scary. This time it's not just casual and you know that you will quite upset if this person that you care about so much decides that 'hey, it's just not working out' or even worse, 'I don't think I'm ready for this'. Going....
You suddenly become aware of how vulnerable and fragile it makes you feel, and yet strangely, you wouldn't have it any other way. The way you kiss each other says it all, the way you cling to each other after sex and that moment that you catch yourself hanging up after the beep on their voice-mail because you only rang to hear their voice when you knew they were in a meeting. Gone.
You know you love them before you say it out loud. You didn't know it until you looked over and it hit you like a ton of bricks. You LOVE that person. Fuck. What does that mean? Are you going to start losing the plot? Are you turning into one of those pathetic people you derided for spending hours just mooning over someone else? Probably.
You occasionally split up to catch up with your separate friends, but afterwards you meet up and it's a rare night that's spent apart. You don't just commute to work now, you spend at least an hour a day traveling to each others houses to pick up clothes, feed the cat (does she still recognize you?) and respond to the edgy notes that your neighbor has left you about letting your alarm clock blast for the full fifty-nine minutes.
You find your priorities changing; you can't trace exactly when you could only manage one load of washing every fortnight or started paying your electricity bill on the final (you're about to be disconnected) notice because you've spent all your money going out to dinner. You know you've got a real problem because the 25th marks your two and a half month anniversary, as opposed to your sister's birthday which you completely forgot.
Songs on the radio that you've always changed frequencies to get away from suddenly have depth, you enjoy spending time with your respective families together, and you find yourself going out with other couples. It's crass double-dating, but they understand exactly how you feel and you find yourselves teasing each other about how sickening it all is with stupid smiles plastered all over your faces.
I can't tell you where it leads from there; I've only just got here. I know that I'm in love and I'm happy. Sometimes unbelievably happy. I've got no idea how it got so good, and I doubt I could ever define that moment that I went from being single to being in a relationship.
What I can define is that Fiona Jane has finally fallen.