So I’m dating this guy.
Or so I thought….
Maybe we’re actually seeing each other.
Juries out. Turns out this syntax is maddeningly unclear.
As if there aren’t enough gray areas in dating! As if labels with a romantic interest aren’t difficult enough already! Recently I realized I don’t even know how to talk about potential fellas to my friends!
“Dating” VS “Seeing”
I’ve been on a handful of dates with a person. Things are going well, but it’s still new, still casual. It’s reached the point where I’ll mention him to my friends, the dude’s got potential. But suddenly I feel lost on the girls’ brunch staple: What’s up with your love life? Am I seeing this guy or dating him?
Instead of consulting Urban Dictionary, I asked Facebook and Twitter. I asked my friends. I considered standing on a street corner and asking NYC strangers but a blizzard made me scrap that idea.
It’s a subtle difference, I’ll admit. But important. Like the difference between the B and D train: one easily gets you to the American Museum of Natural History, the other zooms you up to 125th leaving you wondering what the hell you did wrong and OMG am I in Harlem!?
I certainly think of DATING and SEEING as different in my mind.
Dating is occasionally buying things on Amazon, it’s a pay-per-ride Metrocard. Seeing is a Prime Membership and an unlimited monthly.
When I’m dating someone, I can still count the number of dates.
When I’m seeing someone I’ve lost count.
DATING: NO WAY do my family members know about him.
SEEING: I might tell my aunt about him when she asks, “Any men in the picture?”
DATING: I hope he’s not a serial killer.
SEEING: I’m like, pretty positive he’s never murdered anyone.
DATING: I may still be dating other people too.
SEEING: It’s exclusive.
Turns out a lot of people agree with my take on these two words! Annnnnd….a lot of other people think the exact opposite… The conclusion of my (extremely) limited study (“study”) was a shockingly even divide between the two camps.
Included in the number who totally disagree is the guy I’m dating/seeing. Yes, I told him I was writing this post and asked his thoughts. Turns out we have polar opposite views on these two confounding words. He thinks we’re seeing each other, I think we’re dating: Communication Fail.
OMG does that mean we don’t understand each other!? DEAL BREAKER!?
I jest, I jest! We’re both on the same page, just uh, looking at different words?
I’m a writer, I think that’s why this confusion bothers me. I want to be clear with my words! Not mean different things to different people! So I gave this stupid syntax wayyyyy more thought than it ever deserved. I wanted answers. Thankfully, it wasn’t too hard to figure out.
The explanation for this dating/seeing confusion, as I see it, seems to lie in the biggest scapegoat of modern romance: Hookup Culture.
Put it together and POOF the word “dating” elevates to a greater level of seriousness. “Seeing” can be applied to your friend with benefits, your ex, and tonight’s Bumble date. It could even just mean using your eyes! Totes cas’.
“Dating”? OMG no! That word alone is enough to make anyone with the slightest fear of commitment hide under the covers!
Thus the confusion? Thus my conclusion:
“Seeing” used to unequivocally hold more weight. Evidence: the cliché question, “Are you seeing anyone special?” plus the dialogue in your average rom-com.
But now, Hookup Culture has reversed the playing field between the two words.
As a 30-year-old blogger who’s watched too many episodes of Sex and the City….I might feel a little old-fashioned in my DATING vs SEEING beliefs. Maybe I need to change my wording when I write about dating, since I frequently do…
Or maybe I’ll just slip on some elbow length gloves every time I sit down to blog, and tell you I’m not old-fashioned. I’m classic. AF.
What do you think? Which one do you think is less casual: “Dating” or “Seeing”? Do you think my point of view on this is dated (pun intended) and I should change it to reflect dating in this app area? Or tell me potato, patahto- let’s call the whole thing off!