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The Talking Stage: What Is It & How to Progress to the Next One

You’re talking to someone, but not dating them. That’s what they call the talking stage. How do you get through it and progress it to the next level?

the Talking Stage

The dreaded talking stage. To some, this is a nice place to be, that in-between spot after the initial introductions but before you’re actually dating. It can be confusing. It can feel like it goes on forever. And it can even be really enjoyable. 

But, the talking stage is different for everyone. Some people love it and others hate it. It can be frustrating or relaxing. It all depends on you, how you view dating, and your connection with whomever you’re talking to. 

What is the talking stage?

The talking stage is the time where you get to know someone but aren’t sure how interested you are. You know you like them enough to learn more but aren’t sure enough to actually start dating them. Although this part of dating can be annoying because not everyone enters or leaves this stage at the same time, it is so important. 

[Read: These modern dating terms will help you master the evolving dating game]

What is the point of the talking stage?

This is the stage where you learn basics about each other that are really important. The talking stage can happen when you’re chatting online or dating the old-fashioned way. Use this time to talk about anything and everything, like TV shows, sports, and your job. 

This is usually the time you also get to know each other’s dealbreakers. You likely won’t see each other’s flaws, but you’ll share things that are important in your life. You’ll find out if they like traveling, they’ll find out if you smoke, you’ll learn their political leaning, and they’ll learn your religion. 

This talking stage can be confused with dating, but it is the period before two people actually start dating. It is when you are taking a step away from strangers or acquaintances but may not necessarily be hurtling toward romance either. 

This is the time when you feel each other out. You won’t be sharing your feelings necessarily, but you’ll get to know if you have feelings. The talking stage is when you find out if you’re both interested enough to start dating. 

[Read: How to remain hopeful while dating and not let heartache get in your way of finding love]

You can also use the talking stage as a time to set expectations. Simple things like calls or texts in a timely manner are to be expected when you are in a relationship. But if you set your expectations too high during the talking stage, you might be disappointed. Set expectations for the person you are talking to but don’t make them unrealistic or unreasonable.

Expectations of the talking stage

The talking stage is a grey area for a lot of people. So, being able to effectively navigate through it will require understanding, accepting, and embracing the idea that you don’t have any control over the other person – only you. So, here are some things to consider in terms of expectations.

1. Be clear with your communication

Talk about things. Get to know each other and open up. Try to figure out if the two of you are on the same page in terms of liking each other. One person might like the other more than the other person does.

2. Have healthy boundaries

Maybe the timing isn’t right for a relationship for one or both of you. And that’s fine because that’s what the talking stage is all about. But you still need to demand respect from the other person. It’s important to draw these boundaries so there is no room for misunderstandings. [Read: How to set personal boundaries and guide people to respect them]

3. Match their level of interest

If the person you’re talking to isn’t reciprocating as much as you would like them to, then you need to match their level of interest. If you don’t, then you will come across as needy or clingy. Keep it light and casual. Don’t invest too much time in someone if their level of interest seems lower than yours.

4. Don’t think about the future too much

Try just being in the present moment and enjoying the talking stage. You don’t have to start planning your wedding and picking out your children’s names yet. That’s putting the cart before the horse in a big way.

What happens in the talking stage? 

But it isn’t always as simple as it sounds. It seems like it would be when you text before deciding to meet up or after a date or two before knowing if you really click. Sometimes it is true, but if you’ve dated, you know it gets more complicated than that. 

Generally, the talking stage is what happens before feelings get involved. It is the part of dating that isn’t dating. At this point, there shouldn’t be expectations or pressure. 

There isn’t a label for dating. You aren’t exclusive and can be in this stage with multiple people at once. You can be talking and flirting with multiple people, as long as they aren’t under the impression that they’re the only one. 

[Read: Dating multiple people: It’s not bad, but actually really healthy]

This is also usually a time when you’re unsure of the other person’s feelings or intentions. You’re talking and getting to know each other but aren’t sure where it’s headed. This is a time a lot of people would say they are feeling things out. 

You’re trying to see if there is something there or not. You probably find the person you’re talking to at least mildly attractive, but you aren’t sure if you want to move forward.

The talking stage could be seen as limbo. It is the place between knowing you’re dating someone you’re interested in and just meeting them. And everything that happens during the talking stage is up in the air. This stage could end at any moment due to ghosting. Although the talking stage shouldn’t lack respect and decency, it often is. 

[Read: 20 very clear signs you’re on the verge of being ghosted by someone you’re talking to]

It could also be turned into dating or a friendship. It could be ended with a nice text saying you aren’t interested. This stage implies there are no obligations. You are simply talking with no rules or implications but a lot of confusion. Pretty much, the talking stage is before you get to the open and honest communication stage. 

[Read: How to let someone down easy: The full guide whether you do it in person or over text]

How long is the talking stage? 

This is a hard question to answer because it is so different for everyone. The talking stage for some could be a week and for others, it could be months. You may leave the talking stage after your first date because you felt a spark and shared a kiss. 

[Read: Are you falling for someone? The biggest signs of an emotional connection]

But, this is so unique to each person and each pair. Not everyone enters and leaves these stages at the same pace. The biggest complication is that it lasts a different length for everyone. After two weeks, you may be ready to move forward while the person you’re talking to is fine the way things are. 

This is what makes the talking stage so confusing. You aren’t confident in your connection enough to outwardly share your feelings, but if you have them and they don’t feel ready to progress to the next stage, you get hurt. 

The talking stage to many is also fair game for ghosting. So, during that time if one person loses all interest, they may just stop talking while the other person is left waiting. This is where the talking stage becomes so frustrating. It could take one conversation to know you aren’t interested in someone, but sometimes it takes weeks or months. 

[Read: Why is he texting me if he isn’t interested? 15 reasons why people do this]

While someone is figuring out if they like you and if you click, you could be silently planning your wedding. 

Essentially, 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. 

This can then go on until you express your feelings and intentions. Maybe before even meeting them, you say how surprised you are by how fast you’re catching feelings. Maybe after the first date you know you’re interested and don’t want to talk to anyone else and you’re on the same page.

For others, you could be in this stage while talking to other people. You may go on dates and be feeling things out. Maybe after two dates, you realize they aren’t for you and then the talking stage ends. You could be talking to someone else and after a month realize you like them.

All in all, the talking stage can be a nice time to get to know each other layered with confusion and necessary patience. 

[Read: How to behave when someone rejects you but still acts warm and nice to you]

Advantages and disadvantages of the talking stage

The talking phase can be good for some people and bad for others. But there are advantages and disadvantages, so let’s look at some of them.


1. You can set boundaries

As we mentioned earlier, the talking stage is a time when you can set your own boundaries. For example, if one person tries to get the other one to sext, you can say no *or yes*. The two people can push boundaries to see where they are.

2. You can slow things down

Maybe one person is fresh out of a breakup and they’re not really ready for a relationship, the talking stage is a good way to slowly dip your toe back into the dating scene. You are putting yourself back out there with very little risk. [Read: Falling in love fast and why you need to slow down]

3. It’s good for people with avoidant attachment personalities

People with avoidant attachment personalities have a hard time with emotional intimacy and attachment. In fact, they prefer to avoid it. So, the talking stage puts a barrier between the people, usually via phones. It allows the person to keep their emotional distance.

4. You can get to know each other

The best part of the talking stage is that you can get to know someone before you decide to date them. You can assess your compatibility and if you find that you’re not a match, then you don’t actually have to break up with the person.


1. It could be a waste of time

For some people, the talking stage goes on for far too long. They might want to move to the dating phase, but the other person might be dragging their feet. So, it could ultimately be a waste of time. Maybe one of the people is using it just to pump up their ego and not to progress it to the next level. [Read: 80 Dating questions to ask them before you get past the talking stage]

2. You could be talking to a player

You don’t really know someone until you know them for a long time. So, you have no idea if the person you’re talking to is a player. They could be talking to a lot of other people at the same time they are talking to you. You simply don’t know if they’re being genuine

3. There are a lot of uncertainties

Because there is a lot of grey area during the talking stage, you have a lot of uncertainties. Does the other person like you too? Or are they just bored and need someone to talk to? Is this going to progress anywhere? If you don’t address these questions, then you can feel like you’re in limbo.

What comes after the talking stage?

The whole point of the talking stage is to get to know each other enough to see if you want to take it to the next level. And that next level would be the dating stage. [Read: Talking vs. dating – 16 ways to tell them apart and know your exact status]

When you are dating, you could be exclusively or non-exclusively dating one another. It’s important to get clear on this. You don’t want one of you to be seeing other people and have the other one think they are exclusive.

Ideally, exclusively dating comes after the talking stage. And after that, it might lead to a full-blown committed relationship.

How to get past the talking stage

The best advice to navigate the talking stage is, to be honest. When you realize you’re interested in someone, say it. You don’t have to have intentions or be over the top, just let them know you’re interested, and that you’re not seeing anyone else. This is a good place to start. 

After a few dates with someone, one of you might tell the other that they deleted the dating app they met on because they liked the other person. And they might say the same. This is when you go from talking to dating.

It might not be for a couple of months that you become an official item. If you don’t say anything, you both could be feeling that way for much longer without knowing how the other feels. 

[Read: How to ask someone if they like you without embarrassing yourself]

If you’re in the talking stage and want to move on to dating, it won’t just happen because you want it to. You can sit in the talking stage for months just pining for something more because you’re afraid to make a move or say something. You don’t have to jump from talking into a relationship, but going from talking to dating is a nice transition. 

[Read: Exclusively dating or casual fling? How to know your current status]

This gets you out of the funk and confusion of the talking stage and into a point where you can share your feelings. 

The only way to move past the talking stage is to say something. Tell the person you’re talking to that you’re interested in them and aren’t seeing anyone else. Yes, this could end things if they aren’t on the same page as you, but that is okay. 

This is the reason a lot of people will linger in the talking stage. They’re afraid if they say something, that everything will end. And they’d rather have this unsettling confusion than ruin things by being honest. 

No matter who you are, you’ve watched a “will they, won’t they” TV show and screamed at the screen for one person to just say how they feel so it can be out in the open and they could move on together or apart. Well, this is that moment for you. 

If you don’t share how you feel, you’ll never know what could have happened. Maybe they aren’t on the same page as you. Maybe they want to keep getting to know you. Or maybe they want to end things. But, isn’t that better than not knowing? 

[Read: How to let a guy know you’re interested without appearing overeager]

Rejection in the moment stings. But in the long run, is so worth it. Plus, you’ll never break out of the talking stage if you don’t say something. It is scary, but there is no subtle way to take that step and get past the talking stage. If you can share that you’re interested and are open to more, that is enough to lay down some sort of intention and move forward. 

[Read: How to manifest love: Take these steps to draw in your best love life]

So, are you ready to move past the talking stage? Remember these steps, take a deep breath, communicate your thoughts and move beyond just talking.

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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...