When it comes to relationships, advanced verbal communication is a leg up that we have on, for instance, bonobos. Feelings are meant to be felt, but language can lend clarity to the lump in your throat and butterflies in your stomach. Is it merely infatuation or do you love the guy? Was it a fling or do you sense stirrings of commitment? It helps enormously to talk things out with your best friends over brunch, and it’s not just the mimosas.
But the right words can be hard to find. Given the everchanging dynamics of modern dating, we sometimes need to invent or repurpose words to capture a certain phenomenon. “Ghosting” is a term that I’ve recently stumbled upon in the dating blogosphere. It’s when you’ve been texting (or talking) up a storm with your latest, and then the texts become less and less frequent until he fades out of the picture completely, spectre-like. Oh—and that initial sussing out of date potential (the “talking”) is known as “pre-dating.” Nobody likes getting ghosted by their pre-date, but at least we have the tools to articulate what’s going on. If there’s a word for it, then take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. We’ve been there, too.
There’s also a way to describe that delicious, spine-shivery feeling you’d get if Ryan Gosling were to drop by your office (because he’s such a fan of your blog posts) and proclaim, “I will eat cereal from your hand and your hand alone.” The word is not “delusional” though I see how this could apply. In fact, it’s not even English. Multilinguals report being able to tap into different personalities depending on the language they’re speaking. Where English fails to capture a romantic nuance, perhaps another language could pick up the slack and even enhance our breadth of experience.