Nowadays, everyone hates labels. I guess it’s some Millennial thing. Labels have a tendency to box people into categories, and sometimes it can be impossible to rid yourself of a label that has basically become a part of your reputation. A label can minimize a person to a one-dimensional being, robbing him/her of all complexity. My peers from school and I are fully grown adults, yet some of us still bare the labels that were bestowed upon us in high school, particularly the more unsavory ones (hoe, slut, player, weirdo, etc). The negative perceptions of a person always tend to overshadow the positive ones. Science has shown that our brains have a way of planting the bad things in our brains more firmly than the pleasant ones because processing negative experiences requires more mental effort. We use stronger language to describe our negative encounters and tend to stew over them for longer periods of time. Like with everything, though, there is always another side to consider. Humans need labels. Pointing to things and naming them are one of the first stages of language development. It is how we categorize and reference things, how we can separate what’s good for us from what isn’t. Language is our most powerful tool, and by labeling people, we give them a role in our lives. Mother, sister, husband, friend, co-worker and so on and so forth are just a few titles most of us are familiar with, and if you have any of these people in your life, you have certain expectations of them. Where it tends to get murky is when it comes to romantic relationships. A situation in which two people have a romantic interest in one another and are not entertaining others is typically labeled a relationship. For the price of that title you are usually compensated with commitment, monogamy and companionship, and for someone who is not 100% invested in you, giving up the thrill of the single life to sleep with the same person every night is too high of a price to pay. So what do some people *cough cough* (men), tend to do? They hit you with a bunch of semantics to tip toe around committing to you in an effort to have their cake and eat it too. Before you know it, you’re knee deep in a Situationship.
“You Ain’t Even My Girl”
Being an adult is tiring. I feel like adulthood is a scam. As a child, all I longed for was the freedom that came with being “grown.” The ability to make my own decisions seemed like heaven. The beauty of childhood is the naivete. My inexperienced mind did not realize the amount of responsibility that came along with the freedom to do trivial things like stay out as late as I wanted or eat ice cream for dinner. As I became an older teenager, I was able to get a taste of the adult life without having to purchase the whole entree. Back when I was a young and dumb 19/20 year old, I was allowing my love interest at the time to get all the benefits of a relationship from me without requiring him to complete the package. I was brainwashed with all the “we don’t need a title” rhetoric and just went along with it because in my mind we were practically in a relationship, anyway. He was in my apartment majority of the time, didn’t want me dating others, and led me to believe he wasn’t seeing anyone else either. To put it simply, I was an idiot. During that time in my life, I didn’t know how to put my foot down and require more. I knew that I ultimately was not going to get the commitment I wanted, so I just decided to leave things alone. After all, he was around consistently, so that must be a sign that he was really into me, right? WRONG. I was dead wrong, because every time I would complain I would get the reminder that we are not even a relationship so I have no right to air any grievances towards him. No matter how close you may think you two are, if there is no verbal agreement that you two are exclusive, you are single. I allowed this man to have all of the benefits of a boyfriend, without him taking on any of the responsibilities that come along with that title. I was nothing more than a temp-agency girlfriend. At a temp agency, they send you to a company to work there for a varied length of time and while you give that company the benefits of your employment, when all is said and done, you gotta get up outta there. They may like you, but you’re not what they’re looking for long term. You work there, but they offer you no benefits and you ultimately leave with nothing until you’re sent somewhere else. The old me would ask him why aren’t we together, or when are we going to make it official, and I would get those cliche responses typical of someone who isn’t interested in you long term. “I’m just not ready for a relationship right now.” “You know I have feelings for you, why complicate things with a title?” “I’m not good enough financially right now to have a girlfriend.” Deep down I knew this was a crock of b.s., yet I continued on anyway like the poor fool I was. If a man is truly enamored with you, you will know because he will tell you and take you off the market. If at any time during the early stages of dating you have to ask yourself “what are we doing?” just know he’s doing him, beloved. You should go do you, too.
Bonds > Title
I think my favorite excuse people use to sidestep a relationship is the notion that a “bond is better than a title.” This is just silly, to put it mildly. It saddens me that women are buying into this propaganda. A bond is cute, but how many others does he have a “bond” with? A title is not a bulletproof vest for your relationship against cheating and other detrimental actions, but there needs to be some type of foundation there. When you neglect to specify what type of bond you have, the doors to a world of ambiguity burst wide open. Are we bonded as friends? Temporary companions? F*ck buddies? Which is it? An old friend of mine was navigating the foggy waters of Bond-land when she texted me crushed one day. The man she thought she was so connected to introduced her to his best friend as “this is my friend…”. This was after months of dates, humpin’, Netflix & chillin, learning all about each others’ pasts and him telling her how close he felt to her. They spent so much time together, she was sure he saw her as much more than a friend. Sis didn’t know that a bond without a title to go along with it is just a Situationship. So much time and energy was invested into this bond, yet it was worthless when it was time to cash it in. It is so important to be honest with yourself and your potential bae when you begin to communicate what it is you are looking for. If you are 100% sure that you just want companionship without the strings and stress that can accompany commitment, open your mouth and say that. If you realize down the road that you were misguided about your wants and now you want something more serious, be clear about your needs. If you’re dealing with a man, you have to be upfront. It’s key. They don’t pick up on hints and passive aggressive moves to try and signal what you want will end with your texts saying Read 9:57PM. At the end of the day, you have to be prepared for rejection. He may not want what you want, and that’s fine. He’s not the only man left with a sausage dangling between his legs. Nurse your ego back to health and keep it pushing, but don’t become a thirstbucket who is content with being a half-ass girlfriend. Life is too short.
He Just Doesn’t Like You Sis
There are levels to liking someone. I’ve liked a lot of guys who I didn’t want a relationship with. Frank Ocean said it best “No, I don’t like you I just thought you were cool enough to kick it.” Lust easily blinds us to the real ins and outs of someone’s personality because we are led on a string by physical attraction. Liking someone physically and/or sexually does not equate to liking who they are as a person. When you’re just riding around having a jolly good time and neglect to learn anything about his habits, goals, dark past or 325 credit score, you can’t say you like him because you don’t know him. Knowing that he taught his little brother how to throw a football does not mean he would be good with kids. His conspiracy theory about Earth being flat does not mean he’s deep and doesn’t conform. Now think a little harder about this; if you barely know him, you can guarantee he knows beans about you. If the sex is good and the stress is low, a man who isn’t already captivated by your dazzling personality isn’t going out of his way to learn more about you than what you’re offering up as free information. During the dark days of me selling myself short, I thirstily asked Situationship Boo what he thought of me. He said, “you’re cool.” I was flabbergasted. Completely bewildered. My ego took about 27 hits at once. I’m COOL?!? Just cool? Where was all that sweet talk in the beginning where I was told I wasn’t like other girls and I was so great to be around? I thought because I was going to a major university, didn’t live at home with my parents, received my Associate’s Degree and high school diploma at the same time, read a bunch of books and didn’t have a baby daddy that I was wifey material through and through. All that education I had and I couldn’t see past my own ego. He just didn’t like me like that. It doesn’t matter how good you look on paper or in person, if you two aren’t vibing on more that a physical level, you will remain just someone who is convenient for the moment. Instead of being basic AF and asking him what he thought of me months down the road, I should have spent those early days seeing if our connection was something worth building on instead of going with the flow that ended up flowing absolutely nowhere. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you have the personality of Tiffany Haddish, talent of Beyonce and sex appeal of Rihanna, if he doesn’t like you, he just doesn’t like you, beloved. Someone being present in the moment and giving you a few hours of their time here and there does not mean he wants a relationship with you. He can shower you with compliments, take you out for your birthday and snatch your soul every night, but if he hasn’t told you he wants you just for him, move on. Him beating around the bush when you mention a relationship isn’t because Mercury in Retrograde is putting a damper on his communication skills. You are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but you’ll be someone’s. Remember that when you see him on Snapchat a few months later with a girlfriend.