Not everyone enjoys labels but they exist for a reason. The biggest indicator of a real relationship is typically when a couple becomes “official,” which traditionally means becoming boyfriend and girlfriend. But what about the steps before becoming official, when you’re just “a thing”? Those relationships are legit too, and deserve to be treated as such—but the sad truth is they almost never are.
Historically, men are the biggest offenders of dismissing unofficial relationships.
This isn’t always the case, of course, but I think most of us can agree it’s pretty typical. I think we can also all agree that it low-key sucks to be stuck in this situation. You don’t know where you stand or how to feel and it’s torture.
You’re into this guy but he’s made it pretty clear that he wants to keep things casual.
He may have said it explicitly or you may just be picking up on vibes. If he hasn’t talked about making things official, doesn’t text you often or doesn’t hide the fact that he’s seeing other women, you’re right in assuming he’s content with where things are.
Odds are, you’re trying so hard to be cool with it.
You might be holding on hope that it will eventually turn into something. Maybe you’re just really into the sex or like having someone to go out with from time to time. Whatever the reason, you’re either just looking for a fling (which, BTW, is completely fine) or you want a relationship but you’re trying not to blow up your own spot.
You’re nervous to tell your friends or family about him, no matter how badly you want to.
You might be itching to brag to your squad about how funny he is or dying to tell your parents about his amazing job, but it’s not that easy. Unofficial relationships have this temporary feel about them, as if they’re only made to end and not to blossom into something more. If you tell your friends or family about him and things unravel next week, you might feel embarrassed or judged so you keep things bottled up… which sucks.
In general, you feel judged.
You can’t walk down the street with your guy without thinking that people can smell the unofficialness on you. It sucks that society has conditioned us to feel ashamed about something that can’t be labeled, but it’s the harsh reality we live in, friends.
The worse thing of all is if he’s the one to break things off.
In my experience with unofficial relationships, you’ll often decide together that you want to get things started but you very rarely decide together when it’s time to end things. That’s okay—sometimes you’re not on the same page whether you’re official or not. But it’s such a slap in the face when he tells you things are over like he’s ordering a coffee or, even worse, when he straight-up ghosts you. “Girlfriends” typically get a little more courtesy, like, say, a simple explanation. But as the other half of a casual relationship, you often don’t get that respectable parting of ways.
What’s really obnoxious is that they’re not treated like relationships when they are.
Broadly speaking, a relationship is the connection you make with another person—a friend, relative, partner or otherwise. It’s someone that you’ve spent time and energy getting to know, even on a base level, and that counts for something.
You’ve probably impacted this person in some way, even if it’s small.
You may have taught him something about himself, or maybe you just introduced him to an amazing Thai place he’d never tried before. You’ve made memories together. No matter the scale, you’re a part of his history now and he’s a part of yours.
Fifty years ago, a casual fling might have been seen as scandalous.
“Going steady” was the goal, after all. Nowadays, non-monogamous or uncommitted relationships are extremely common—you’d probably find many studies that would say they’re now the norm, actually.
That’s why it’s so maddening to see how easily these types of relationships are brushed aside.
True, they may not bear the “boyfriend and girlfriend” label we’ve come to expect, but that’s no longer the standard of dating. We live in an age where Tinder dates rule supreme and marriage rates are dropping, so it’s probably time we redefine what it means to be “in a relationship,” don’t you think?
You may not have slapped a title of your “thing” but don’t discredit it as nothing.
The time you’re spending with this person means something, even if you’re not going to get married and spend the rest of your lives together. Hopefully, you’ll both look back on this relationship to reminisce about some of your most fun, wild times. It’ll mean something to you then, so please, don’t trivialize it now. Guys, sorry but we’re looking at you.
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