This is an extract from #singlebutdating by Nikki Goldstein, RRP $29.99, out now.
What Is Single But Dating?
Looking at a form one day I saw the options for my relation- ship status: single, married, widowed or divorced. If you are dating someone but not in a serious relationship, or casually hooking up with them but it’s not official, or even just in a relationship but not married, you are forced to declare that you are single? A word that conjures up images of a woman with lots of cats? This was the motivation for #singlebutdating. I realised I was not in fact the only one living this life of dating exploration, struggling with the imbalances in it. A single-but-dating (SBD) woman is not entirely single, not entirely not single, but somewhere in between while trying to work out what she wants from her love, sex and dating life, with many options ahead of her and many challenges too. Society was yet to recognise that these women exist, and validate how they go about their romantic and sexual lives.
#Singlebutdating describes where you are in your life right now. In no way does it describe you in detail, what makes you tick or what you like and dislike, but it does give an indica- tion of the status of your love life. But remember, being SBD is only part of the equation that is you.
The term SBD also describes the modern dating landscape. Modern women are in a new world where the traditional rules just don’t work anymore. Should we be given a handbook to dictate our every move? Or empowered to make informed deci- sions that are right for our individual lives, wants and desires? Why settle down or commit long-term to something you are not even sure you really want but feel you should? We are dating differently, loving differently, having sex differently and it’s up to us to work out how we want that to be. We shouldn’t be told how to trap a man or husband, or even that marrying this perfect-on-paper guy is the ultimate goal to love and life. We don’t need to change ourselves to fit into the ideal stand- ards for men; we need support, encouragement, empowerment and information. And in order to get the most out of the SBD world, we need to be the most dateable version of ourselves (the best version of ourselves), so that we are able to make the deci- sions that matter and date from the right state of mind.
SBD women are just living the lives that men have been able to for years. An SBD woman might not necessarily be in a serious monogamous relationship but may be on her way to one. She might be hooking up with men, dating a few, having one-night stands or even booty calls. She might want kids, might not want kids, believe in marriage or just enjoy long-term relationships. She is possibly breaking tradi- tions of what it means to be a woman while struggling with her identity and sense of self-worth. She is also a woman who is more common than you would think, and who feels conflicted when it comes to labelling her love life.
Sexuality is also a big part of this as, up until recently, women exploring their bodies and what to do with them has only been accepted when in the bounds of a relationship; unfortunately, there are still some people who hold this view. Part of this SBD process is experimenting with sexual urges, which is why having a sexologist write a dating book is not such a bad idea! Sometimes I find just saying it like it is helps women to feel normal and lets them know that it’s all okay. That it’s all right to want sex and to explore what they want in their own sex lives too. This is especially the kind of attitude we need around sex when it comes to dating.
There are two purposes to the SBD lifestyle. This label is not only the landscape of a modern dating world and the women in it, but also an important phase women need to go through in order to find contentment and happiness in future relationships. This is a time for you to sexplore, sexperiment and work out what you want and how dating works under the title and the freedom of that label – SBD. Some people stay in the lifestyle longer than others, some people come in and out, and others live the SBD life continually. But whatever you choose, one thing is clear: dating has changed for women. It’s no longer about settling down and finding someone to take care of us, rather it’s about discovering what we want and exactly what type of relationship we want to be in. We can achieve this by living an SBD life, while working to be the best versions of ourselves.
Maybe SBD women are just modern women in a complex dating world, with more choices in love and life and less immediate need to settle for having just one man. For some, the SBD life has a purpose; others live it without even realising at the time, and for others it’s just the modern way in which they date.