Recently I have found myself questioning whether I am a single pringle, free to roam as I please, or in a committed one-on-one relationship. To be honest with you, I have no idea what my relationship status is. Now, this isn’t because the guy I am seeing is taking me for a ride or that we haven’t had ‘the conversation’ yet. We are wholeheartedly on the same page, we just don’t know what that page is, because it hasn’t been granted a legitimate term. My choice of phrase would be ‘in limbo’. This however suggests a transitional phase, leaving one state to not yet have arrived at another, which somehow weakens the validity of our current situation. Basically, I myself am adamant to avoid labels, names, or categories at all costs for the time being. By no means do I have all the answers nor I am the voice of reason when it comes to relationships, but let me enlighten you on a few realizations that may ring true for you too.
Most probably, the main reason we label our relationships is for the satisfaction of society. To neatly align ourselves with the perimeters of acceptance, to comply. Societal pressures are easy to succumb to, but from experience, it puts your relationship in a box; simple for others to quantify yet too early for you to comprehend. You haven’t even decided whether you actually like each other before your family member, friend or colleague is asking where your ring is.
A classic normaphobic would be your average twenty-something, sensing the ever-lingering expected protocol to have the regular set-up of job, house, and spouse by your early thirties. If not, you have somehow failed, completely expired like a cup of old milk. The absolute worst thing you could do is get into a relationship just to tick a box. Don’t worry, the wedding police won’t come to a-knockin’.
What’s the rush?
Have you ever been seeing someone you like, everything is going just peachy then BAM that all-imposing-fun-crushing label comes along, killing the honeymoon lust of two hopeful singles and forcing you into premature adoption of spouse roles? Me too.
It’s easy to become swept along by a love interest, mistaking lust for something more. Yet to truly know whether this person is worthy of your attention in the long run, it’s pivotal to create a healthy balance between spending time with them, your friends and family, and your own self. Pace yourself in the initial stages and let the relationship take shape organically, otherwise, boredom may set in too quickly and spell the end before it has even begun.
As soon as you are settled into confined partnership roles, you can often realize that things are expected of you that previously weren’t. Presents at birthdays, Christmas and Valentine’s, joint ownership of a dachshund, and before you know it, you’re scrimping your month’s wage to pay the rent on a one-bedroom flat in the city. All because he’s your ‘boyfriend’. Silly, right?
Equally, you may find yourself expecting things you never thought you would. You suddenly yearn for their attention and become jealous of their social plans, making you question the existence of your own social life. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of making your other half the entirety of your life outside of work. It’s a no-brainer but this is all too easily and so often done. Get a hobby, go out with your friends and have fun so that, if the relationship does take a turn for the worst, you aren’t left a lonely singleton with no support system post-break-up.
Maybe you aren’t ready to settle down with just (the) one. You view this as a sign of forever and that just screams a lifelong eternity of cabin fever. In your mind, ridiculous logic prevails; if you’re not technically together then you don’t have to break up, hence feelings spared all round; a win-win situation! Nonetheless, the approaching label gives way to looming impending doom. Is this it now? Is he the one? Your mind swirls around the tick-tock of biological clocks, mid-twenty, and your sentence is served.
Ok, maybe I am overplaying it, but also maybe I’m not? Once you’re tied down the thought of untying a bond that has soured over time is not a pleasant experience for anyone. Commitment is scary, especially when coupled with the thought that it could all end. If you aren’t ready to put all your eggs in one basket just yet, hold off until you are.
The buzz and frivolity in the early stages of dating are so exciting. You’re on a complete high when with the other person and also when you’re not. You don’t want this feeling to end, but know that eventually, it will.
Maybe the label does signal the end of the honeymoon period as from experience, I’ve noticed that shortly after, complacency kicks in. The chase is over and your other half has you, but the fact that they subconsciously think you’re here to stay no matter what is simply foolish. Once partners stop making an effort to make each other happy, even in just the smallest of ways, couples can drift apart, only together as a sense of routine. Hence me trying to drag out the honeymoon phase for as long as possible and make the most out of wooing and being wooed in return.
Don’t let society or your friends pressure you into defining your relationship status. Be happy with your new love and take it slooooow. I’m not as cynical as I may sound, I just strongly believe labels are for products, not for people.