Relationships are tough. I wouldn't know personally, but it seems like they are. There is so much overthinking and confusion, there's the different stages, and the stressed out phone calls at 2:00AM with insistent inquiries of “What should I text him?” or “Do you think he's cheating right now?” I often grow concerned for my friends who put so much pressure on themselves during these elongated phases of high school romances. They seem so helpless, like they're flailing. So, in an effort to prevent any other person from falling under the spell of “simping,” I encourage you to see what each of these distinct stages looks like from the standpoint of a person looking in at the sheer lunacy of modern romance.
1. The Crush
It all starts here, an innocent infatuation that grows out of stupid things like somebody laughing in class or having a nice smile. There's some form of amusing flirtation that's fostered between, what we'll call for our purposes, “the crushee” and “the crusher.” “The crushee” is often either oblivious to the advances of “the crusher,” or they revel in the newfound attention and entertain the flirtation. This stage may involve things that, to an outsider, seem a bit creepy: checking Snapchat incessantly, overthinking text messages, stalking the schedule of the crushee. There's an aspect of jealousy that can accompany this stage, but it's often pushed down because the crush is supposed to be a big secret, yet they still tell everyone.
2. The “Talking” Stage
If you make it past the crush with your dignity and even a semblance of a return of interest, congrats! You've made it to whatever the heck the talking stage is. I've studied this stage a multitude of times, and what it seems is that it's a strange limbo between dating and a crush where both the crusher and the crushee know that feeling are mutual and go out on dates and act like they're dating, but they won't say it. It's aggressively confusing and is often the cause of a lot of self-doubt and insecurity. In this stage, there's dating, in the sense that they're going out and hang out alone together, and they talk about each other constantly, and to each other constantly. But, neither of them ever call the other one their “S/O.” They're just “hanging out,” or “hooking up.” When I hear about people in the talking stage, it triggers my fight or flight response. This stage makes about as much sense as linear algebra. I'll pass.
3. The Honeymoon Period
After you've somehow jumped over the giant hump that is the quasi-dating of the “talking stage,” you finally start dating, but it's all so pristine and perfect because neither one of you wants to make the other not like you anymore or rethink their decision. So you always laugh at their jokes, you hold hands and spend all of your time together, and you text each other good night and good morning. It's nauseatingly cute, but it's relatively shallow, especially if there wasn't a really close connection prior to the natural progression of the relationship. There are a lot of secrets and putting up fronts to look better to the S/O, and it's stressful. It also inspires many late night texts and fears of relationships going south.
4. The Middle Part
I call this the “middle part,” because nobody really cares at that point. Everybody knows you're dating and you're out of that PDA stage so there's not a lot of public affection. The couple is just vibing in their relationship, and there's not a lot of drama after that (at least from what I've seen). There might be casual references to the S/O in conversation, but it's not as incessant as it was in prior stages of the relationship. This is personally my favorite stage because, as a friend, I am no longer stuck in the miserable back and forth of my other two friends and their ever-pervasive issues.
5. The Breakup
Unfortunately, break-ups happen. Usually my friends and their S/Os are chill enough to not hate each other after a breakup, so I don't have to awkwardly avoid one of them in the halls or in classes. The day of the break-up I'll probably bring one of them some ice cream and let them have some time and space, but they usually get over it pretty quickly. About 6 months later, the cycle starts again. And that's where I am today. Stuck dealing with everyone else's boy problems without having any of my own.
It's really quite therapeutic. It's also much less emotionally taxing when the boy problems aren't your own.