It occurred to me recently that I have been in a dating relationship! This revelation is based on the Merriam-Webster definition of “date” (entry 4a at merriam-webster.com):
"an appointment to meet at a specified time; especially : a social engagement between two persons that often has a romantic character"
I was feeling a bit embarrassed I actually had to look up the definition of "date" but the social landscape has changed so much in recent years that it is all very confusing. I have been asked by men to "hook up," which I first thought (naively) to mean, "Hey, let’s meet for coffee and conversation" and it turned out the gentleman (and I use the term loosely) meant something more like "Hey, even though we don’t know each others' last names, how about a quick romp in the sack?" It took me a bit of time to catch on that when a male wants to "hang out" it is totally different than hanging out with my girlfriends. With the gal pals, it means we gather somewhere to talk, maybe involving food and/or drink. The male version seems to mean the male does everything possible to get the female naked as quickly as possible, including flat-out saying, "So, you wanna get naked?"
I guess the new terrain is why it took me so long to realize my own relationship. Granted, it's somewhat on-again off-again, depending upon the season, but overall, it’s been a pretty regular Saturday night thing for the past four years or so. The night, which I always look forward to with great anticipation, might include dinner or drinks, but most often it's just enjoyable, dedicated time together. Sometimes it’s a very late night thing and occasionally there are amazing weekend marathons that send me totally over the moon.
I can’t wait to tell my mother and my sister about my relationship. I think they have been concerned about the fact that I hadn’t even mentioned a guy in my life for almost three years. Now that I’ve realized the truth, and based on the criteria of "specified time" and the enduring nature of my relationship, I can’t wait to tell them I’m dating a doctor. And it’s not just A doctor, it’s THE Doctor. The fact that it has gone on for a period of years means basically, I’m in a long-term dating relationship with Doctor Who and it's one of the most stable relationships of my adult life.