Is Defining a Relationship Necessary?

Everyone’s looking for a happy ending.  They want to find that one person who they really connect with.  So what happens when you meet someone, spend time together, they make you happy, they are thoughtful and good to you and you think there is really something there, but, you haven’t really “named” it?  Are you dating? Are you exclusive? Are you boyfriend/girlfriend? Do you really need the title?  Perhaps not a title, but at least a road map.  What do I mean? Well, I’ll tell you.

Definitions Are Changing

Most people define relationships in terms of love, intimacy and sex. If you have those, you should have a relationship, right? Well … not anymore.  Do you remember the New York Times article The End of Courtship and all the discussion it generated?  Just to jog your memory, the main premise of the article was that dating doesn’t really exist anymore as a result of the new “hookup culture”.  It has turned into “hanging out”, “let’s not ruin a good thing” and “we’ll see where it goes”.  There are so many options now with online dating and mobile geo dating apps that there is an endless stream of people to meet (I went on Skout for 15 minutes and had 40 people complimenting me and wanting to meet), let’s face it, why should anyone “settle down” when they could be missing out on all the fun and ego stroking, or, heaven forbid, something better?  But where does that leave you? I’ll tell you where … ALONE!  No one is easily satisfied anymore.  They may be completely happy with someone, but, they don’t want to limit their options “just in case”.  Well I’m here to tell you that’s B.S.!!

Recently, my teenage cousin was talking about a girl he was spending time with and going on dates with.  I asked him if she was his girlfriend and he looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.  I asked him, so what are you, he said “I dunno, we’re just hanging out”.  I then asked him if they were exclusive and he replied “ya we are”.  He told me that they don’t really use those terms “boyfriend/girlfriend” anymore.  It’s “hanging out”, even though they’ve been seeing each other and speaking every day for months.  Hmm … really?  When I speak to people in their 20’s & 30’s it’s the same story.  Rarely does anyone want to define anything … it’s one day a time … seeing how it goes.  Why ruin a good thing by defining it? Right? WRONG!!!

Why Defining Relationships IS Necessary

Taking responsibility for your relationships is a sign of maturity.  It’s a sign that your life is moving forward.  When you spend a lot of time with someone, share your life with them, share your ups and downs with them, when you talk every day, when they are constantly on your mind, when they make you happy and bring something positive into your life why not define it?  It helps you focus on each other.

Defining your relationship doesn’t mean you’re committing to spending the rest of your lives together but what it does mean is that you’re committing to being focused on just them and that you’re exclusive.  If a long term commitment comes from it then it does, if it doesn’t work out then it doesn’t.  No pressure.  Just maturity.  I know it can be scary, but life is about taking risks.  If you don’t take risks, you’ll never know what you’re missing!

When, and How, To Bring It Up

defining a relationshipNever assume that you are in a relationship or are exclusive with someone unless they actually say it. There isn’t a right time to bring up the topic, it’s just when it feels right or when you get to a point where you don’t want to waste anymore time or energy on a dead end.   Only you can determine when that is.  Just ask where you stand in the relationship and if they are ready to be exclusive.  Don’t be pushy or demand an answer, or even argue with their answer.  Everyone has a right to feel whatever they feel.  If they aren’t ready to take that step then respect their choice, thank them for their honesty and decide for yourself whether or not you’re willing to stay on board.

If you’ve got a “dodger” on your hands, you know, someone who dodges the question or runs for the hills whenever you mention the “R” word, then you have your answer already.  If someone really wants to be with you, you know what? They will be with you.  Obviously, you don’t rock their boat enough for them to want to keep it afloat in the water.  So, best to move on.  Don’t waste your time with a dodger who doesn’t have enough courage to be honest with you.  You deserve better.  We ALL deserve better than to be one of the check marks or x’s on a geo dating app … we deserve to be with someone who wants to be with us, and only us.

No excuses

Are you experiencing this non-committal attitude from people? How are you dealing with it? Would love to hear your comments!

Your Sister in Dating Bliss,

Single Dating Diva

Copyright Single Dating Diva

29 thoughts on “Is Defining a Relationship Necessary?

  1. I agree with you – I think defining the relationship is a sign of maturity and moving forward with your life. For younger people – ie. teens & early 20’s like your cousin, maybe the term “hanging out” fits. However I think once you’re my age – early 30’s – you should be able to date for awhile and then have the talk where you decide what you’re doing. I like to get to know the person for a bit but eventually I need to know whether we’re on the same page – because if we’re not, I don’t want to waste my time.

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    • Thanks for your great insights Simone. You are so right, when someone is a teenager/early 20’s then perhaps no need to define. The older you get, though, the more responsible and mature you should be. Not always the case.

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  2. Stuck in the “scared to bring it up” stage. It really does suck not knowing. But at the same time, I don’t want to “rock the boat” as I’m going on vacation to visit him in May, already paid for and cat get a refund. Did I mention this is a long distance relationship? That sucks, too. Any advice? 😦

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    • Thanks for your comments! I completely agree Long Distance Relationships (LDR) are difficult situations when it comes to defining things. It really depends what it is you are looking for. What’s important in an LDR is being on the same page about exclusivity and where the relationship is going. There is definitely a risk of wasting your time with a LDR, so the earlier you get on the same page the better. And … if you want to be together, who’s going to move? May is a long time away, so I can see your hesitation to rock the boat … so you need to decide – have the conversation now or after your trip. Hope this helps!!

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      • Not sure if this comment will still get read/responded to… But got me thinking – I met this guy while traveling, and we were on the road for 2 weeks together before returning to our separate countries. It’s been 4 months since we have been in almost constant contact. Whenever he’s out at a party or checking out something cool i always get a text and pictures from his adventures/nights out. He’s told his friends about me and kind of introduced me to a few of his friends despite the distance. He’s labelled our 2 weeks together as like a “temporary girlfriend”, which normally would be weird but i guess was ok in the circumstances. And obviously now I don’t know what we are because everything is uncertain, except I will be visiting in April for 3 weeks. He’s made a TON of plans for what we should do together when i visit and insisted that I wasn’t allowed to visit his hometown without him (even though i had planned to go visit my own friends)… That sorta thing. I have a possibility of relocating to his current country/city at the end of the year, and will be back in his country in Sep. I’m not sure what I should do when I visit. There’s obviously a chance of more romance — would it be too presumptuous to raise the DTR? When would I do it (when he tries to hold my hand again? Kiss? Getting intimate?) I’m pretty sure with all the plans he’s made and all that’s transpired it appears that he’s exploring where this might lead too/it can’t be purely platonic!

        Any advice would be appreciated 😀

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        • Thanks for your comment / question Erin. The most important thing here is not to assume anything. You must talk to him about it. State your intentions and what you would like to see happen and see what he says. I would personally do it at the end of the trip, but before you leave so that you do it face to face. Most important thing is to expect anything so that you don’t get too disappointed if he says no. I hope this helps!

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  3. I agree, at some point the relationship has to have a definition, in the beginning, you both explore, make connections, find common interests, and then what’s the next step? This question can be the make it or break it point of the whole relationship and can definitely cause either one a lot of pain or heartbreak. If you’re not confident enough in the feelings that may or may not be being reciprocated, it’s time to put the question out there, are we exclusive? If so, then let the next steps flow through with the comfort of feeling like you belong together, that he/she feels the same and wanting to move forward together, making decisions together, taking into consideration the opinion or feelings of the other. If there is hesitation, and one or the other doesn’t feel the same, then it’s time to let go, cut your losses and move on, because the most horrible feeling in the world is staying and always wondering, feeling used like you’re just an option if there isn’t anything else better around the corner. Also defining the relationship instead of assuming will cut down on heartbreak if you find out you may not be the only one in this little dreamy happy relationship. So yes, I think relationships need a definition.

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  4. I am in the infancy stages of a pre-LDR. After 6 months of almost daily writing, and phone conversations we will finally meet next month. I think especially in these cases one needs to be on the same page early on as the travel alone will burn a hole in your wallet.
    Also I’d like to share something I read recently from Rob Brezny philospoher/astrologer, that I really thought was funny… (side note – of course be clear of what you REALLY are before you find a cute name for it!)

    Rather than referring to someone as your “friend” or “partner,” call him or her your “accomplice,” your “freestyle,” or your “lightning.”
    Dead terms like “significant other,” “boyfriend,” “girlfriend,” and “spouse” should be retired as well. In their places, try “lushbuddy,” “heartbeat,” or “jelly roll.”
    🙂

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    • Thanks for your comment! I’ve been exactly where you are and where you’re gonna be LDR style and just be aware that the novelty of the potential great relationship to come could wear off very quickly either during or after your trip. My advice is hope for the best and expect the worst AND have fun regardless!

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  5. Totally at the “what are we” stage so this rang so true to me!! thank you!!

    We see each other 2-3 times a week, we’ve met each others closet friends, his mum sends me her love whenever they speak (despite the fact we’ve not met) and he brought me a present back from a stag (bachelor) party in Rome, and yet I am unable to ask whether we’re exclusive, at least… Makes you wonder why, at 33, I’m unable to grow a pair and ask him???

    Maybe this week I will….

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    • Men don’t always speak in words. Sometimes they speak in actions. When your guy is sorry he changes your oil, or washes your car. If you are seeing him 2-3 times a week and his mom knows all about you and send her love, you are a couple. Period. Oh and his mom already seems to think you are great (that’s like three quarters of the battle…guys have to be able to bring you home to mom…it’s sorta a requirement) . Singlehotfemale, you need to change your screen name, as you are not single anymore, oh and invite him and his mom out to something…

      We don’t have to live in a Facebook relationship status world where everything neatly falls into particular slots with changes broadcast loudly to everyone you know. In reality things are more of a gradient of infinite status without a Facebook news announcement for everyone to “like”. But you can certainly like it yourself!

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      • Thanks for your comment John! I agree sometimes it’s almost obvious but it’s better not to assume, best to confirm. It’s not about saying to the world you’re in a relationship … it’s about knowing where you stand and making sure you’re on the same path. I’ve been in a situation where I was introduced to the parents, saw them and spoke to them several times a week and ultimately, when I asked, we were “getting to know each other” … moral of the story? Don’t assume, confirm.

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  6. Pingback: Relationship Trust is Such a Fragile Thing | Single Dating Diva

  7. On the flipside of this, sometimes people want the label too soon. My current struggle is that I’m dating someone who has wanted to “girlfriend” me from the very beginning. We’ve only been seeing each other for a month. I’ve told him that I’m not dating or sleeping with anyone else, so can’t we just take time and let things become what they’ll be naturally? I’m afraid that this rush for a label will drive me away.

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  8. Just yesterday I had the what are we conversation with the guy I’ve been dating. He said we are exclusive, I don’t date any one else he then said what more do you want from me? He said I don’t know if I want to add any titles just yet. The problem for me is I know I want him and I know how I feel about him but obviously we are on 2 separate pages. He blames him not knowing on my temper because I got upset that he called me to tell me he took one of his girl friends soup because she was sick, yes I got mad, I was sick as well and he knew it but I didn’t get soup. I’m just wondering if it wasn’t that ,would there have been another excuse to let me know you don’t want to be in a relationship with me? Or am I just overreacting? He has all the benefits of having a girlfriend but refuses to add titles and he said eventually he will figure out whether or not he really wants me at the end of it all.

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    • Thanks Rita! It’s important that you are on the same page as your partner. Some people need “labels” while others don’t. For some just being exclusive means a lot, but, if “naming it” is important to you then perhaps you’re not with the right person. Not every relationship is going to end in marriage or growing old together. You need to take it one step at a time. Wherever it goes it goes. Don’t put unnecessary pressure or goals especially early on. It seems that he likes having his freedom and friendships in addition to being exclusive with you. If this is not the type of relationship you want then, as I said before, you aren’t with the right person for you. There is no reason to feel angry or upset, just find someone on the same page. Hope this helps!

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  9. Hi I have a question? can a relationship the real even without titles? I think that actions mean more than titles, meaning….. neither of us push to be a title! Chris and I dated for 3 years with titles… we broke up around 6 months ago, but nothing has really changed except for the fact that we have two separate homes now, the thing is though we spend every night together either at his house or mine. our families and friends still see us as being a couple and we do everything together and we also don’t see or talk to other people. when we broke up people were pushing us saying that it was time to get married or get off the pot…. and I think it scared us. so I guess my question is is this still considered a relationship even though we don’t have the pressure of titles? We seem to get along so much better now than we did before. is this possible or am I being naive?

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    • Hi Rhonda, thank you for your question. You don’t need to name it if you’re both on the same page and are getting out of the relationship what you want. To me confirming exclusivity is key, once you have that you can call it whatever you want or not call it anything at all. Just make sure both your emotional needs are being met by whatever arrangement you have. Remember the relationship is the two of you, everyone else can give their opinion and you can take it into account but in the end it’s the two of you that matter. Thanks again! Hope this helps!

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  10. Defining your relationship is something that has increased in the last five/ten years. We’ve always wanted to know “What’s going on?” or “Where are we at” but with social media sites like Facebook, where labels are everything, it’s taken a different angle.

    Mark Z has a lot to answer for!

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  11. This one’s a tricky topic. It’s been a year since I started talking to this guy. It’s been a consistent daily communication and seeing each other 1-2x a week merely for dinners and pub nights watching sports. I have no idea who’s supposed to bring this topic up. I want to, but seeing that we took our time over the past year getting to know each other without getting intimate, I’m afraid I may be jumping the gun too soon if I were to bring it up now. Deep down I’m thinking he’d bring it up if he’s really ready to commit into an actual definition of us. A friend of mine contracted an STD recently so I brought up the question about the chances of contracting that off multiple partners. He right away said he wasn’t sleeping around and we’d have no issues. Anyway, wouldn’t defining the relationship somewhat put on an added “expectation” that whatever is happening between us is supposed to lead into something more serious at a time period? Is it wrong to follow the flow until we reach a point where we actually would want that next step of commitment past dating?

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    • Sounds like you’re being overly cautious. It like you’re both settling like the article says. You don’t rock each others boat enough, but looks like a good friendship.

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  12. Hi! I’ve been seeing a guy for 9 months now. I think it’s time for “the talk”. We see each other pretty much everyday. He calls me all throughout the day & we’re texting. He stays on the weekends, we go out to dinner, shopping, movies, breakfast & we’ve met each other friends. It’s basically like we’re together but it’s not official. The only downfall is he adds a lot of girls on Facebook. I really enjoy being with him I just don’t know how to approach him about us being exclusive?

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  13. In the stage of after a year of friendship now almost a month really close, Bf gf but he does not want to cone out for us, keeps it to hinself. He says out of not being too sure,doubts about me being onder ( 9y) and me having kids. Him not. But it flows so well….he is now 3 weeks on vacation with a mate. I would like him to be open about us to others but out there we are just pals. I fear bringing it up. We are exclusive and I want to give him time,he appreciates it a lot. But am falling in love and fear him keeping his options open. What if he will not miss me? We texted everyday, seen eachother 2-3 times a week, two weekends away but alone we are close and intimate, with others not. What should I do? 😥

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  14. Hi! Loved reading your article. It’s crisp and to the point. I am facing something similar presently with the man I am with. The thing is we are in a LDR since two months now and have been able to meet only once. He shares a lot of things with me and we share a great rapport. The only hiccup I am facing is that he’s not ready to ‘define’ us. I tried having the ‘What are we?’ talks but every time I am left unanswered. Most of the times he will change the course of our conversation. He said he likes me once, but I am still clueless as to what we are or where we stand because he doesn’t refer to me as his gf or anything on those lines.

    I really want to be clear as to where we stand. Do suggest ways as to how I can approach him subtly yet get my answers.

    P.S. I really like this guy and want this to work out! 🙂

    Thanks!

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    • Well, you can’t rush things, but his reluctance to “define” things tells me he doesn’t want a relationship at this time. So you have to decide whether you just want to continue as you are as “long distance friends who date” or move on to something different.

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