The Realities Of The Talking Stage In A Relationship

In April last year, I wrote a post about the talking stage. Before I hit the publish button, I wasn’t sure how the post would be received, so I’d mentally prepared myself for any backlash or critique from those who read it. However, what happened was the complete opposite. As of March 2021, the post has been read over 16,000 times, making it the most popular post on Kelle’s Space. It is also one of the first posts you see when you google ‘the talking stage’.

As someone who never had a talking stage, it wasn’t until I became a single woman in 2016 that I was able to fully grasp its importance. In my early-mid 20’s, I wasn’t self-aware or emotionally intelligent.  Looking back, there were so many reasons why this was the case.

All I know is that when I met a guy I would talk to him, go out on a date or two, develop a vague idea of how he felt about me and before I knew it I was in a relationship.

Taking the time to think about values, personality traits, compatibility levels and whether I had the freedom to be my authentic self were afterthoughts. Five years ago, I didn’t even know what it meant to be authentic, and now authenticity is something I advocate for especially in dating and relationship situations.

So, to summarise, my viewpoint on the talking stage remains the same. It has, is and will always be necessary. My reason for writing a second post is the concern I had when I came across a viral tweet about the talking stage a few weeks ago. The tweet said ‘The talking stage replacing dating is literally one of the worst things to happen to human connection and I mean that’. To date, over 200,000 people have liked the tweet. When you think about the fact that a lot of people who use social media lack the ability to think for themselves, it’s actually a little frightening. The truth is that the talking stage has never (and should never) replace dating, so to share this narrative with thousands of people is an extreme reach.

Here are some realities of the talking stage I think women especially should be aware of: 

The talking stage is a source of discomfort for many people – There are many reasons why people have a large amount of disdain for the talking stage and I believe that discomfort is one of them. Some people have been conditioned by their own thought processes as well as external factors. They believe that connections can be built overnight. Meeting new people is hard and it can be draining, so in order to get to know someone especially after a failed talking stage can leave us in a vulnerable state, but it doesn’t have to. All we can do is try and see things in a different light. Getting to know someone is exciting when you trust the process and don’t rush things. It takes time to get to know someone properly, which is something I mentioned in my last post about the talking stage. This generation (particularly millennials) love to fast forward when dating…you meet someone, there’s an instant connection and before you know it, you’re thinking about how many wedding guests you’ll have. 

Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to settle down and get married but how could you possibly know that someone is/could be ‘the one’ after a few verbal exchanges? It’s impossible, hence why you need a talking stage to keep you impartial. The talking stage will allow you to decenter the situation and determine whether things could progress to dating. Going through a talking stage is an act of due diligence. Something we need to remember about dating is that it is easy to get attached. There are relationship experts who will confidently argue that we start catching feelings by date two or three. The talking stage requires discernment, not attachment, which is why it’s always a good place to start. So, if you are someone who tends to fall for a guy pretty quickly, you may want to re-evaluate your approach and consider having a talking stage before things move to the next stage.

The talking stage is an opportunity to get to know someone and determine whether things can move forward – As mentioned, dating requires a great deal of attachment. Some people find it impossible to date without catching feelings. I have read and heard stories from people who have been on a few dates, caught feelings and not known what to do when cracks start to appear. Of course, it’s obvious what they need to do, but they’ve become so enamoured by the person they are dating that they can’t leave or find it hard to leave. The talking stage gives you the freedom to take a step back. 

Another issue I think that some people have when it comes to the talking stage is advocating for themselves. Even though things aren’t moving to the next stage yet, you should be paying attention to things such as how you feel when you are talking to the person (can you be yourself?), how the person talks about their past and past relationships, and whether you are listened to and vice versa (does the conversation flow?). Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that you will date every single person you talk to. Also, don’t feel obliged to as well because if you’ve had a few conversations with a guy and you can’t get a word in, then that isn’t someone you should go on a date with.

A misconception women have about the talking stage is that they don’t need to be aware of any code amber alerts or red flags, which isn’t the case. Another reason why the talking stage stirs up discomfort in the minds of many is because a lot of people are scared of being themselves for fear of how they will be perceived. Also, some people haven’t been taught or encouraged to show up as themselves, so they end up being whoever they feel they need to be in that moment. My choice of words may be extreme but it’s scary to think that there are people who aren’t showing up as themselves during the talking and dating stages, but it’s becoming more common. Two years ago, I wrote a post called Signs You Shouldn’t Go On The First Date and one of the signs I shared was awkward conversations. There are instances where you can determine what kind of interaction you could possibly have with a person you are talking to. As always, discernment is key.

The talking stage shouldn’t last long – One of the reasons why I think millennials are frustrated with the talking stage is because some women are being left in talking stages for months. I’ve read stories about people being in talking stages for a year (yes, 365 days!). Again, this is where discernment comes into things. If you feel like you don’t know where you stand after a certain amount of time has passed, then that’s telling. However, if you feel it’s in your best interests to talk to the person about how things are going, then go ahead, but once you have your answer, that’s it. You can’t stay in a talking stage with the hope that you’ll get a date or a commitment, particularly if the person you are talking to is talking to other people or has told you that they don’t intend to get into a relationship anytime soon.

We struggle with these truths at times because we want to fix and save people, while being unaware of the fact that these people don’t see anything wrong with what they’re doing. If you are being left in a talking stage for more than three months, I’d advise you to either discuss things openly and honestly or just cut ties and move on. Personally, I’d lean more towards the latter because anyone who wants to potentially get into a relationship with you will not waste your time. In my post about women shooting their shot, I talk about women taking ownership of their ability to choose. I think this is really important because we tend to relinquish our power when we talk to or date a guy. Men don’t hesitate when it comes to making decisions concerning their private lives, so why should we? 

A few weeks ago on IG, I published a post about walking away from anyone who appears to be emotionally unavailable and one of my followers asked me what happens if the man in question refuses to accept that you aren’t compatible? I told her that some men will always advance their own interests and we certainly don’t need them to validate the decisions we have already made. We need to trust ourselves, which is really important. So, if your gut is telling you that you’ve been left in a talking stage for much longer than you should, then don’t be afraid to do what you need to do.

The talking stage and dating are NOT the same thing – One of the misconceptions I’ve noticed online is that some people think that the talking stage and dating are the same thing. They are not. If you are talking to someone, that is simply all you are doing. However, if you are dating then you are going out of your way to spend more time together and see how things could develop. So, if you happen to have gone on a few dates with a guy, you are dating. You aren’t going through a talking stage. Things can’t progress and move backwards at the same time, so don’t allow anyone to make you think it’s possible because it isn’t. 

I can’t stress this enough, but discernment is everything, even in a dating situation because there are guys out there who will date women, get exactly what they want from them and then proceed to put the talking stage label on their relationship. Most times, the woman is unaware that this has happened (because he’s made that decision without talking to her) and before you know it, the unhappiness starts to slip in while they become oblivious to the fact that the person who has caused these shitty feelings is closer than they think.

Also, the talking stage is NOT a relationship. Exclusivity is only final when both people have discussed and agreed on the status of their relationship.

Never assume that anyone you are in the talking stage with is your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Again, if you don’t know where you stand, you kinda have your answer. If you want to find out because this will put your mind at ease, feel free to. In my opinion, relationships that have uncertainty and confusion as a foundation rarely end well. You should always know where you stand. It’s what you deserve. It’s what we all deserve.

The talking stage is there to keep you grounded as you build connections with potential love interests, so don’t dismiss it. It is necessary. 

Also, do be mindful of people who are projecting their own negative talking stage experiences onto others. Don’t let one person’s experience impact the due diligence you undertake to get to know someone before things move forward. 

What are your thoughts on the talking stage? Do you think it’s replaced dating? Or perhaps you think people aren’t navigating through it the best way they should? Let me know in the comments xo

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  • Tinuke
    March 27, 2021

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this point and agree with all the points you made. I believe the talking stage is extremely necessary, it just needs to be used the right way and shouldn’t be prolonged for longer than needed.

    • itskellesspace
      March 29, 2021

      Thanks Tinuke, I’m glad you enjoyed reading the post. Absolutely. It’s necessary. I just think that a lot of our generation don’t know how to navigate through it, so they see it as a hindrance and not a blessing.

  • Naomi
    April 9, 2021

    Hi there. I love your blog and thank you for clearing this up. I just have one question, This guy and I have been texting and calling everyday for the past 6 months and we’ve been on one date but we have been unable to meet up ever since that one date because we live in different cities and because of the pandemic… we agreed on being friends and making a decision after we meet up in person again but my thing is I don’t know how to act or feel right now because the way we talk doesn’t feel the way “friends” would and I don’t know how to ask him what we really are since we actually went on one date, I’m not sure if that would be weird? What do you think?

    Thank you 🙂

    • itskellesspace
      April 9, 2021

      Hi Naomi, thank you for your kind words and also for reading the post.

      So, based on what you’ve told me, you’ve agreed to be friends with this guy therefore that’s what you are at the moment. If you would like to rekindle your relationship, I would say talk to him. Just be upfront about how you feel and see how he responds.
      Don’t ask him what you are and also don’t try to control his response. Listen to what he says, particularly regarding your relationship.

      You’ll know from that point onwards if he feels the same way about you, and it sounds like he does.

      Honestly speaking, communication has to be present. Just be open with him and I’m sure all will be well.

      Good luck 🙂