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Relationship Labels: A Discussion

Sara Moriarty, Opinion Editor

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Recently, my boyfriend asked me if we could be “official.”

I didn’t want to define my relationship in the beginning because I didn’t think I wanted anything serious. I wanted to have fun without falling too deep into a trap of feelings that I thought would possibly restrict me in the future. Considering college is a time of great uncertainty (at least for me), I had decided that I would rather not be held down in case other opportunities arose. But I changed my way of thinking.

He had already been acting like a boyfriend to me in many ways, and I had already been acting a bit like a girlfriend.

In the weeks prior to our becoming “official,” I had been telling family and friends (who relentlessly inquire about my social life) that he was “my guy I’m basically dating, but I don’t even want a serious relationship with him, but he’s nice.”

I would go on to say that he buys me food a lot and I get him food once in a while, so I was going with it.

All of this information was more than enough description for something that wasn’t even “defined.”

My mother would fire back at me with more questions, saying things like “Would you be hurt if he was seeing someone else? Is he? Ya sure? Do you even like him? Because I don’t think you like him. Are you seeing anyone else? Would he be mad?”

No, I wasn’t seeing anyone else. Yes, I would have been hurt if he was seeing other people. We did spend a considerable amount of time together, after all. However, I would have blamed myself and just left because there was no mutual spoken agreement made stating that neither of us could date/hook up with/flirt with anyone else.

In other words, the relationship wasn’t defined.

I couldn’t let myself get mad at the guy if he strayed from me when I wasn’t even his. (He didn’t, by the way, this is just hypothetical.)

Undefined relationships can thus be a trap. After all, feelings are feelings whether or not they are defined or labeled.

Some people are against defining relationships for fear of being too constricted by society’s standards of what a relationship has to be. Some couples want a relaxed and carefree relationship and feel that a definite label would take away from the relaxed nature and take a step toward “serious relationship.” This is what I thought I wanted, and I admit that there can be merits to this type of relationship, especially if it is a long-distance one. That being said, feelings can be just as strong as they would be if defined.

By going the undefined route, people are still defining themselves. The terms and conditions of some “undefined” relationships, in my opinion, invoke just as much as a “defined” relationship. The only difference is that, in some undefined relationships, the rules, or lack thereof, aren’t discussed at all.

The unspoken aspects of carefree flings can become sources of stress that people wanted to avoid in the first place by avoiding labels.

But, I can’t blame anyone for clicking “agree” to the terms of use without at least perusing them.

Undefined Relationship Conditions: Parties involved may be susceptible to developing strong feelings for other parties involved. Feelings do not have to be reciprocated in any fashion. This may result in ‘hurt feelings’ for one or more parties involved and/or the ending of contract between parties. Families of either party shall not be involved and do not have to be made aware of contract. Parties are not required to remain in contact/communicate every week. No party involved shall be held responsible for ‘hurt feelings’ and/or any other emotional damage. In case of “hurt feelings,” ice cream and emotional support from friends shall be sought.

Defined Relationship Conditions: Parties involved may be susceptible to developing strong feelings for other parties involved. Feelings should at any given point in relationship be spoken of and possibly reciprocated. If not, lack of communication may result in voiding the contract, i.e. breaking up. This may result in ‘hurt feelings’ for one or more parties involved. Both parties involved may be held responsible for ‘hurt feelings’ and/or any other emotional damage. In case of “hurt feelings,” ice cream and emotional support from friends shall be sought.

There is a serious aspect whenever feelings for someone else develop and whenever a lot of time is spent with someone of interest. Defining a relationship is another way of stating that there are hopes for being of a more serious nature and hopes for being together for a longer period of time. A relationship doesn’t necessarily have to be defined for this to happen.

It is just important to remember that feelings are feelings, whether they are labeled or not.

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