What Does It Mean To Be In The 'Talking Stage'?

Dating websites revolutionized the way we meet people in the 2000s, and now dating apps have taken their place. With so many easy and convenient ways to meet new people, there's a rising trend to play the field and draw out pre-relationship communications for weeks to months on end before committing. Gen Z has popularized and coined this as the "talking stage" of a relationship. And while the phenomenon itself is anything but new, a lot of people have still been left wondering what the rules are for navigating the early stages of dating. "Everyone seems to know what it means to be just talking to someone else, but there are no guidelines on how it works and there are no expected outcomes," relationship expert April Masini told Elite Daily.


From social media etiquette to whether or not it's still okay to see other people, the rules of the talking stage are different depending on who you ask. There's been a growing trend on TikTok of users sharing their own rules for the talking stage. One popular video from TikTok creator Ki-Jana includes her own rules around the talking phase, including a timeline for how long she thinks the talking stage should last, advice to keep important convos face-to-face, and, of course, a reminder to have fun. While the talking stage is similar to dating here's a look at how the talking stage is different.

What is the talking stage of dating?

The talking stage is the stage in the (pre)dating process during which there's talking, texting, and just getting to know the other person. "Dating traditionally comes with a lot of pressure and expectations, the talking stage was created to replace the pressure with a simple, casual expectation; to just talk," explains author Damisola Sulaiman (via Medium). Basically, during the talking stage, you're feeling the other person out before making a serious commitment. In some ways, the talking stage allows you to date casually without jumping into something too fast.


The talking stage should start after first being introduced or meeting. On a dating app, it's when you've gone from the app to texting. How long the talking stage should last depends on personal preference. Psychologists say you should wait at least two months until you ask the other person to be exclusive with you (via Insider), and many others agree that a talking stage lasting a few months is the norm. This amount of time gives both parties the chance to feel things out and see where the relationship will take them — and if there's potential for something more.

How to successfully navigate the talking stage

It's important to be aware that the talking stage means different things to many different people. For some, the talking stage may be an important step to a real and lasting relationship, while to others it may mean an easy way to date around without committing. "Something that I've been working on or talking about for many years is the low accountability dating climate," Alexandra Solomon, a psychologist at Northwestern University, shared with Vox. In order to avoid participating in the low accountability dating climate, you'll need to be a better communicator to the people you're seeing and acknowledge how difficult modern dating can be.


Unfortunately, since this stage basically involves testing the waters and seeing where things go, it can feel a bit unclear what the boundaries are between you and your new boo. This is why both parties need to acknowledge that they are interested in each other and make their expectations clear to one another. Otherwise, you may be in for a rude awakening. "If you expect the talking stage to be an exclusive stage and the other person does not, this might lead to heartache down the line, so clear communication is essential," Dr. Caroline West told Refinery29.

What should come after the talking stage?

It's important to note that nothing "should" come after the talking stage and to understand that anything could come after. The pair of you could decide to be in a committed relationship, or you might decide you can't stand each other and go your separate ways. That's part of the beauty of the no-strings-attached lifestyle that the talking stage allows singles to have. "The idea that we need to enter into the dating pool already knowing exactly who we want and what we want isn't true. We can find out what turns us on and who we feel connected to by meeting new people," queer dating coach Ariella Serur explained to HelloGiggles.


Although there isn't one "right" way to execute the talking stage, the success of any relationship will always come down to communication. "Find a middle ground between 'go with the flow' and a list of rigid rules. Don't go too far into 'whatever happens happens' territory and neglect important communication with partners," non-monogamy educator Chad Spangler told Bustle. At the end of the day, your desires and expectations are just as important as the person you're talking with. So, take the pressure off yourself to get the talking stage right and just enjoy the ride.