Once you’ve been seeing someone for a while, it’s inevitable that one of you is going to bring up defining the relationship. While lots of people are chill about calling their relationship what it is, I’ve dated a surprising number of guys who were absolutely not cool with putting a label on what they had with me. For a while, I just let it go, but at this point in my life, I know without a doubt that I want labels on my relationships, and this is why:
I’m a little old-fashioned. I know we’re living in a progressive society that tries to let people be people without sticking labels all over them, but I do like to be called someone’s girlfriend or partner. I don’t need the term splashed across a cheesy t-shirt, and I don’t even need to put that we’re “in a relationship” on Facebook, but I do need to know where I stand in your life.
I’ve been screwed over too many times. Maybe some dudes are just generally opposed to labeling relationships for personal reasons, but the guys who’ve played that card with me have all gone on to hook up with some other girl, then tell me that it “wasn’t a big deal” because “it’s not like you’re my girlfriend or anything.” Never mind that we’d already agreed to be exclusive with each other — they used the lack of a clearly defined relationship to excuse what they did. So yeah, I’m a little jaded when it comes to this stuff, and I think I have good reason to be.
It makes it more special to me. I may come across as a bitter old crone who wears almost exclusively black clothes, but I’m really a romantic at heart. I enjoy being able to think of the person I’m dating as my boyfriend instead of just “the person I’m dating.” I like being able to be alone with my thoughts and know that I’m in a real relationship, that I’m someone’s significant other. No matter how many times I get screwed over by men, that part of me will always stay the same.
I don’t care if it makes me a “conformist.” You can ramble on all you want about how putting labels on relationships is just another capitalist idea to sell romantic, overpriced gifts on anniversaries and Valentine’s Day, but I probably won’t listen. I’m not materialistic in the slightest, and I try to keep an open mind as the times change, but I genuinely don’t give a hoot about not being ultra-progressive in this regard. If you think that makes me a sheep, go hunt elsewhere and leave my label-loving flock in peace.
I’m not a fan of gray zones. Even if you say we’re exclusive, I’m still going to feel like we’re in a weird place between “just talking” and being “official.” Nothing good has ever come out of relationship gray zones for me, so I do my best to avoid them entirely. They leave room for a lot of miscommunication and hurt feelings, which could often be avoided just by saying, “Yes, I want us to be in actual, real-deal relationship.”
I call things for what they are. If it looks like a relationship, walks like a relationship, and quacks like a relationship, it’s a relationship, right? I’m not into the type of guy who practically lives at my apartment, has introduced me to his mom, and does literally everything with me, but refuses to call me his girlfriend. If the only thing missing from an official relationship is the label itself, sorry, but I’m going to need to slap a label on it. I’m not the type to beat around the bush, and I don’t want a guy who avoids labels for the sake of avoiding labels, either.
I don’t have time for wishy-washiness. I’m an adult woman who has her crap as together as could reasonably be expected. If I’m going to be involved with someone, I need him to be an adult about things as well. To me, a guy who isn’t a hundred percent sure if he wants to call me his girlfriend after treating me like his girlfriend for forever is guaranteed to be very non-committal in other aspects of his life, too. This just screams immaturity to me, and I will gladly go in search of someone else if the dude I’m seeing is wasting my time.
I need to know you’re not afraid of commitment. I don’t need you to whip out a ring on our second date (in fact, please do NOT do this), but if we’ve been seeing each other for a long time, I do expect the same commitment from you as I give to you. Labeling a relationship is one of the first steps in dropping that proverbial anchor, letting both me and everyone else know that we’re actually together. If you can’t even give me that much, I’m going to know right away that you’ll never be as serious about this as I am.
I like organization in my life. Blame it on the fact that I’m a Virgo if you wish, but I’m pretty clear about wanting everything in my life to have a designated place. So from that standpoint alone, it makes sense that it drives me a little nuts when I can’t categorize my relationship with someone. Maybe it’s a little nerdy or even a little obsessive, but my brain just isn’t cool with the idea of not having a name for someone who really SHOULD be classified as my boyfriend. It might be a weird quirk, but it’s a part of me that isn’t going away any time soon.
It’s just plain easier. “I can’t wait to introduce my dad to that guy who’s more than my friend with benefits but still not my boyfriend,” said no woman ever. Look, I don’t care if you find the terms “girlfriend” and “boyfriend” to be too immature for your tastes — I’m more than happy to be introduced as your partner or significant other. But if we’re at the stage where we’re meeting important people from each other’s lives, I want to be presented as someone who is significant to you. And more than that, I don’t want to have to fumble around trying to find a good description for who you are to me without explicitly saying we’re in a relationship. If nothing else, practicality alone is a good enough reason to put a label on what we have going.
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