Relationships are tough. I wouldn’t know personally, but it seems so. There’s so much overthinking and confusion, there’s the different stages and the stressful 2 a.m. phone calls with insistent requests like, “What should I text her?” or “Do you think he’s cheating right now?” I often worry about my friends putting so much pressure on themselves during those long stretches of high school romances. They look so helpless, like they’re fidgeting. So, in an effort to prevent anyone else from falling for the “simping” spell, I encourage you to see what each of these distinct stages looks like from the perspective of someone watching the sheer madness of modern romance. .
1. The Crush
It all starts here, an innocent infatuation that comes from stupid things like someone laughing in class or having a nice smile. There is a playful form of flirting that is encouraged between, what we will call for our purposes, “the crusher” and the “crusher”. “The Crusher” is often either oblivious to the advances of the “Crusher” or he revels in the new attention and entertains the flirting. This stage can involve things that, to an outsider, seem a little scary: constantly checking Snapchat, overthinking text messages, tracking down the crushed person’s schedule. There is an aspect of jealousy that can accompany this stage, but it is often put off because the crush is supposed to be a big secret, yet they tell everyone anyway.
2. The “Speak” step
If you pass love at first sight with your dignity and even a semblance of a return of interest, congratulations! You did it regardless of the scene of the conversation. I’ve studied this stage a multitude of times, and what it seems is that it’s a weird void between dating and a crush where crusher and crush know that feelings are reciprocal and go out on dates and law as if they were dating, but they won’t tell. It is extremely confusing and is often the cause of a lot of doubts and insecurities. At this point, there are dates, in the sense that they go out and hang out alone together, and they constantly talk to each other and talk to each other constantly. But, neither of them ever calls the other their “S/O”. They just “hang out” or “meet”. When I hear people talking, it triggers my fight or flight response. This step makes about as much sense as linear algebra. I will pass.
3. The honeymoon period
After somehow jumping over the giant bump that is the near-meeting “speech scene”, you finally start dating, but it’s all so pristine and perfect because neither of you wants the other to stop loving you or to reconsider. So you always laugh at their jokes, you hold hands and spend all your time together, and you say good night and good morning to each other. It’s awfully cute, but it’s relatively superficial, especially if there wasn’t a very close bond before the natural progression of the relationship. There are a lot of secrets and facades to looking better in S/O, and it’s stressful. It also inspires a lot of late night texts and relationship fears going south.
4. The middle part
I call it the “middle part” because no one really cares at this point. Everyone knows you’re dating and you’re not at the PDA stage anymore, so there’s not a lot of public affection. The couple just vibes in their relationship, and there isn’t much drama after that (at least from what I’ve seen). There may be occasional references to the S/O in conversation, but it’s not as incessant as it was in earlier stages of the relationship. This is personally my favorite step because, as a friend, I am no longer stuck in the miserable back and forth of my other two friends and their ever-present problems.
Unfortunately, breakups happen. Usually, my friends and their S/Os are chill enough not to hate each other after a breakup, so I don’t have to awkwardly dodge one of them in the hallways or in class. On the day of the breakup, I’ll probably bring one of them an ice cream and give them some time and space, but they usually get over it pretty quickly. About 6 months later, the cycle begins again. And that’s where I am today. Stuck dealing with other people’s boy issues without having any of my own.
It’s really very therapeutic. It’s also a lot less emotionally taxing when the boy issues aren’t yours.