The 21st Century didn’t cause servers to crash or the world to end. But, it did mark a definitive shift in the dating experience.

Before that time, a person didn’t need to qualify what was happening when dating. People entered dating was a method of establishing partnership. We didn’t need to ask, “Where’s this going?”

We knew that continued contact with a person resulted in sexual expression. Inherent in that format, coupledom was established. No one needed to ask and no one needed to clarify this occurrence.

As the century shifted, so did the manner in which we connect. Sex came first. And if not first, very quickly after meeting a person. Little or no discussion was broached as to what was happening. It left most women feeling confused and afraid to ask, “What is this?” Men too, wondered what was going on. Is this sexual dynamic a fling, or is it an indication of something real?

I remember dating a man I’d known socially for several years. We’d been seeing each other regularly for a month. I assumed we were heading in the same direction, as I saw him on a continual basis. He wasn’t a player.

He was the kind of man who was either single, or in a relationship and faithful. That was his history and his preference. But due to my new-found knowledge of the times in which I lived, I finally needed to ask.

Well… I didn’t really ask. I told him what I wanted.

I was headed to Australia for two weeks. My friends advised I should ask him, “What are we doing here?” Upon reflection, I decided to use a different approach by which to gain clarity on the subject.

I don’t like asking a person if they want me. It feels ridiculous, and puts us both on the spot. I called him to let him know I was leaving and told him I was interested in exploring the possibility of a relationship with him.

I stated that I wasn’t seeing anyone else, and had no desire to do so. In my absence, I asked him to consider if “he wanted, what I wanted.” If so, I would enjoy seeing him upon my return. I didn’t ask for an answer. I didn’t ask him what he wanted. I only told him what I wanted, with him.

The night I returned from my trip, he was waiting at my doorstep with flowers. That was his version of a “yes.” No matter the end result, I had to do the “what is this?” in a manner that suited my disposition. This new skill was learned by sheer necessity. Never an issue in my former dating life, it’s now an issue for everyone entering physical relationships.

The transitional shift from sex partner to relationship partner is a transit that baffles everyone nowadays. What was easy, common and normal in the past is now a starting point for conversation and negotiation.

I don’t like to negotiate. I normally say outright what I’m willing to pay, and that’s it. The whole process is irritating to me, whether it’s in the Istanbul Bazaar or the bedroom.

Since this is now the new norm, I suggest finding a format that works for you.

To hand over your power to another isn’t a style I endorse. To proactively state ones desires is honest and courageous. There’s a 50/50 chance of getting what you want. In the gambling world, that’s very good odds.