When I was in Grade 5 or Grade 6, I remember my mom answering a knock at our door from a boy I knew from school. He asked for me and, when I got there, he asked if I would like to “go around with him.”
I asked him, “Around where?”
It didn’t occur to me that what he meant was that he had a crush on me and wanted to spend time together. Here I was thinking he wanted to go for a walk around the block.
This topic came about because I asked a friend of mine about her boyfriend and she seemed uncomfortable with that label.  Then I heard another woman respond when being asked about her husband. She said they are not married and he is her partner — even though they have lived together for 15 years.
It made me wonder what box she ticks when legal documents ask you to choose either “single,” “married” or “divorced.”
I also had a young man ask me my thoughts on when a relationship goes from dating to exclusive. I didn’t really know the answer.
While I have a pretty good instinct for connecting people, once they are together, I am at a loss about labels people seem to now require.
I think what it comes down to is whatever label with which you are comfortable. The problem is how to know if each person is looking for the same thing — and the only way to know that for sure is open, honest communication. That way, if someone is just looking for hookups or friends with benefits, that is definitely not the same as going steady or being exclusive.
People who come to me are ultimately looking for one special person to be with.  Not everyone is looking to cohabitate or get married or even become really serious right away. In fact, I see many people who get serious way too quickly. 
Those who do want to be with one person may meet their match right away and others may end up dating five or six people before they finally meet the one.
When I was in high school, a sure sign you were serious with a guy came when you were seen wearing his hockey jacket or high school hoodie. Promise rings were also popular as a sign of commitment, but not quite the level of commitment that an engagement ring holds.  
In my opinion, material items are really not proof that someone is committed. We all know people who have been wearing wedding rings while seeking out other partners. So, rather than getting really caught up in the labels, or a ring or an item of clothing, let the real indicator of someone’s commitment level be their actions.
The heart will know.
In the words of John Lennon, “All you need is love.”
For those who want to take a crack at some dating terms over the decades, here are some to peruse. You may need to Google some of the modern ones.
Wooing, courting, carrying a torch, going steady, dating, seeing each other, main squeeze, off the market, exclusive, friends with benefits, hooking up, hanging out, submarining, ghosting, bread-crumbing, orbiting, benching, cushioning, cuffing season, curving, fire-dooring, kitten-fishing and love-bombing.
If you are happy, single and interested in “going around with someone,” contact me by email at holmes@wheretheheartis.ca.