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20-Somethings Have Invented a New Relationship Status, and It’s Called “Dating Partner”
I felt unprepared. An invisible assessment of the relationship was quickly conducted in my head. Deep conversations: yes, and often.
Exciting outings: yup, from hiking to art shows. Texting frequency: once a week. Post-coital cuddling: always. A “defining the relationship” conversation: nope. A desire for a “defining the relationship” conversation: absolutely not.
“He’s, well,” I searched for a word that didn’t seem to exist, “he’s my dating partner.”
Relationship definitions are an important thing for most people. They give us predetermined contexts in which to interact with the people around us. We like the neat boxes the history of romance has provided: date, fuck buddy, friend with benefits, one-night stand, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, life partner.
DIDN”T FIT THE BOX……..
But the person I was seeing didn’t fit in any one of those boxes. Like so many other 20-somethings, I was in a series of noncommittal, nonexclusive casual romantic relationships with people. I was both sexually and deeply emotionally intimate with these people, not to mention going out on dates with. It went on for weeks, months, even years at a time. These weren’t hookups or boyfriends. They were dating partners.
And a dating partner was exactly the kind of relationship so many 20-somethings, including me, want.
All of the good, none of the stressful: This type of “dating partner” relationship is far from a personal invention. In the last two years, so-called dating partners have slowly infiltrated into pop culture.