Boyfriend? Girlfriend? What’s in a label?
So you meet your Mr. (Or Ms.) Wonderful.. and it couldn’t be more perfect. After a few dates, you find yourself really letting this person in.. sharing your inner most secrets, making you feel endlessly more vulnerable..
And then you wonder…
What was his life like up to the very second before you met? Was he seeing anyone? Is she still seeing that drummer from the really terrible punk band? Is he telling people about me? What ARE we? Do I get to call him my boyfriend? Will she stop bugging me if I just call her my girlfriend?
What are labels and what do they do for us, psychologically?
We deal with “labels” at every stage of the relationship spectrum. When you’re in elementary school your first boyfriend is the one who hangs out with you after school and buys you ice cream from the ice cream truck when you don’t have any change.
In middle school it’s your first kiss.
In high school it’s your first fuck. Or the guy picking you up when you run away from home.
How ever you define it, a label means different things at different stages of your life. So really, it should lead you to understand how fickle and unstable the idea of labels really is. A label is NOT ENOUGH to hold a crumbling house.
People tend to demand a label be put on a “connection” in order to understand it better. If he agrees to label me his girlfriend then the boundaries MUST be clearly defined, right? Wrong.
I once dated a guy who called me his girlfriend on our second date. I ended up making out with his friend a couple of weeks later at a house party. I guess I liked him better.. Didn’t really have the time to analyze what I was getting myself into, did I?
When I first met the guy I’m with now I was terrified to put a label on anything.. and he was okay with that. Within the first week, I stopped talking to any guy I was seeing.. and introduced him to my friends .. and he met my mom.
A label doesn’t do anything; your emotions make all the calls.
There are 2 points I need you to take away from today’s article:
1. Yes. A label can clarify some confusion you may be feeling about your current – for lack of a better word- relationship*. But don’t forget, labels bring along with them a shit ton of drama that your new relationship may not be developed well enough to withstand. It takes time to build trust, confidence and security between two people.. It takes time for the two of you to really become one against the world. If you try and label it before it’s ready, you’re bound to face some consequences. (Like taking a souffle out of the oven before it’s ready : deflate)
(*In this case does not imply monogamy)
2. Yes, a label does help define boundaries, but it doesn’t assure you that they won’t be crossed. If the person you meet and have this insane connection with is aware of how you feel (just emotions, no demands) he/she will know that sleeping with someone else is going to hurt you. The pain is not lessened by adding a label. We shouldn’t require a guideline to know what’s right or wrong. If you’re seeing someone who does, you’re probably dating a sociopath.
Labels will not give you the kind of satisfaction you assume they will. They usually bring more bullshit than peace of mind. My advice to you is pretty simple: Lay your cards out on the table instead and let the feelings, or lack there of , do the rest. I know it’s scary.. but you get a much better perspective on the whole ordeal.. and on the person you’re considering dating. Once he understands the commitment you’re asking him to make in more detail, he’ll know whether or not he’s ready to make it.