'Phasing'. I've heard this annoying verb in the context of relationships three times this past week, so it's officially 'a thing'. By way of (partial) explanation, an email from a male friend, Jim, incoming: "OK, so first of all it wasn't really a break-up, as we were never really in a relationship. I read the term 'phasing' recently, probably something to do with Taylor Swift, and I think that's kind of accurate." OK...
My second, more enlightening, 'phasing' encounter came by way of American dating columnist Amelia Diamond on the Man Repeller blog. "In this age of hook-ups and hang-outs, there's less breaking and a lot more phasing." She's right, you know. Because the lines of 'relationships' these days can be so blurry and undefined, how the heck are you supposed to call time on a 'non-thing' which is soon to become even less of a 'thing'?
There we are being all cool and white label about things when it's going well – yeah we don't define it, or no he's definitely not my boyfriend – but then, come D-Day, you're screwed thanks to the self-perpetuating vagueness. In Jim's case, it involved him decoding a complex sequence of subliminal signs and smoke signals – "We met at 5pm in a weird pub we don't normally go to" – and a somewhat maddening conversation where his bedmate (?) beat him to the punch, even though Jim had bought him a conciliatory book as a sort of parting gesture. Confused? You should be.
The third act in the phasing saga comes from another male friend who's found himself the victim of a more brutal phasing-out. In his case, John (not his real name) had been being 'seeing' Peppa (not her real name) for around "two months or so". Their 'relationship' – "meeting once or twice a week, and sleeping together at least once a week" – came to an end when Peppa bedded John for one last, bittersweet, time before telling him he's "not boyfriend material".
Ouch. I mean, as he pointed out, he was happy to just keep things ticking along all cool-and-un-labelled-and-shit and then she pulls this! Not only was he not a boyfriend in the first place, he's also not boyfriend material, in general. Suggesting a more long-term problem that he now needs to turn around in his own mind
This, my confused modern love-makers, is the problem. If you don't define your 'thing', you try and phase it out and say stupid things to people you actually like. Well, The End.