Dating. Seeing each other. Getting there. Make out buddies. Friends with benefits.
These are just a few of the things people call the relationships that aren’t actually official relationships. Many twentysomethings probably already know what it’s like to be in one of these sort-of-relationships.
It usually starts off quite casually. You start talking to each other, whether at a party, at work or online. You get to know each other a little better via online messaging or texting. Later on, you go out on a “friendly date” where you really hit it off. You go on a succession of these so-called dates and one thing leads to another.
But for some reason, there’s no talk about making it official. It’s not on Facebook. You’re not introducing each other as girlfriend and boyfriend. You do a lot of things couples do like go out on dates, watch movies, make out or even have sex. And yet, there’s no hint of giving your relationship an official label.
What gives? [Read: Are you just going through a normal relationship stage?]
How to have a great unofficial relationship
Welcome to the wishy-washy world of modern dating, where nothing is clear-cut! Need a survival guide? You’ve come to the right place.
#1 Don’t be too obsessed with titles. You call each other on a first name basis, at least in public. No one knows for sure what you guys are. But would it really make a difference? I mean, you’re enjoying what you’re doing, right? You probably like each other’s company and the sex may be great. Would putting a label on what you are really make that big of an impact on your relationship?
Giving yourself a proper label may come in handy, especially if it kind of lets you know how you’re expected to behave. But this doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship will suddenly transform into a perfect union. Take our advice and leave labels out of it. One of these days, you might be pleasantly surprised when he suddenly calls you his girlfriend. Just let it happen naturally.
#2 Have the talk once and only once. If waiting isn’t your strong suit, you’ll be tempted to finally ask him, “What are we?” Now, this can be your guy’s cue to finally come clean and say that, yes, he would like to make it official but he just couldn’t figure out how. On the flip side, he might suddenly try to avoid the topic altogether.
If he goes on and makes it official, problem solved! You are now officially a couple. But if he doesn’t, he may not be ready for that level of commitment just yet. Now that you know, it’s better not to mention it again anytime soon as that may make him think you’re pressuring him into a relationship. [Read: 3 ways to take that leap and admit your feelings]
#3 Find out if he has ever had a girlfriend. Social media may be your best friend when it comes to this. Most guys may not be as open about their relationship history, so trying to squeeze the story out of him may be pointless. When you find out that he has had girlfriends in the past, this can mean that he is indeed capable of sustaining a relationship.
On the other hand, if he has never had an official girlfriend, it’s highly possible that he’s just not the type to commit. There are guys out there who have intimate relationships with women, but they don’t make it official. These ladies don’t get introduced to mom, and they don’t get invited to family outings. This could mean that he’s not quite ready for that kind of relationship, or he just doesn’t believe in that type of commitment at all.
#4 Match your level of commitment with his. You can already tell how committed he is to you based on how much time and effort he spends on you. Does he call and message you every day or does he only do this when he’s free? Does he care about how your day is going or does he only care about you when you’re with him?
It may sound mean, but there’s always the possibility that the guy who’s your priority would only treat you as one of his options. Instead of pining and hoping he’d treat you the way you treat him, you can try to only be as available to him as he is to you.
By doing this, you can accomplish two things. One, you can make him realize what he’s missing out on and this can lead to him exerting more effort to be with you. And two, by spending less of your energy on him, you might find the time to be on the lookout for a guy who can actually match the level of commitment you’re willing to give. [Read: Are you making him your priority when you’re just one of his options?]
#5 Don’t take the drunken conversations too seriously. Aren’t people fun when they’re drunk? Well, it depends. When your guy has had one too many drinks and calls you for some lovin’, it’s easy for him to say a bunch of stuff that he might not even mean. For example, he may say things like, “I love you” in the heat of the moment.
You may think this is finally the confirmation you need to consider your relationship official. But bear in mind that a drunk mind doesn’t always speak a sober heart. Once he’s sober, he might forget that he ever said anything. So keeping your hopes up about drunken words may only end up breaking your heart.
#6 Prepare yourself for the worst. There’s no easy way to say this, so here goes: With a low level of commitment, he might suddenly disappear and fall into someone else’s arms. It’s a very real possibility, and believing that it won’t happen to you may only hurt you even more.
Since he hasn’t made your relationship official, sleeping with someone else won’t be considered cheating. He might think that you’re also considering doing the same thing. Also, he may not be emotionally invested in you, so leaving without so much as a goodbye won’t be that hard for him. [Read: 10 tough love dating tips that can make dating work for you!]
#7 Have other activities in your life. The most agonizing couple of minutes in your grey area relationship is sending him a text and waiting for his response. Since you know you’re not in a commitment, he’s not obligated to respond to you unless he really wants to. Instead of sitting around and waiting for his response, it’s better if you had other activities to keep you occupied.
There’s really no reason for you to spend your entire weekend being on call for a guy who might not even consider calling you. Go to the gym, read a book, binge-watch a series. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as your mind isn’t constantly fixated on the fact that it’s taking him too damn long to respond to your messages.
#8 Keep your options open. It goes without saying that when you’re not in a committed relationship, you’re allowed to entertain other options. You’re not 100% sure that your thing with your current guy is going anywhere anyway, despite the fact that he seems like your perfect match. So why not entertain other men who may be able to give you the relationship you want to have?
#9 Try to bridge the gap a step at a time. These grey area relationships may oftentimes start off as nocturnal trysts. You meet up in the darkness of the night and have some fun under the sheets before calling it quits right as the sun rises. If you want to take it a step further than this, what you may need to do is try to invite your guy over for some normal couple activities.
Think: a movie at your place or a dinner date. If he’s up for it, then it’s a sign that there may be more to the two of you than just sexual chemistry, and you can take it further from there. However, if he prefers to keep the horny night owl routine going, then that may be as far as he’s willing to go. It’s better for you to know this sooner rather than later.
[Read: Are you ready for a more serious relationship?]
[Read: 10 rules for keeping a casual relationship casual]
It takes a certain level of courage to be able to pull off the “no strings attached” relationship. There’s no certainty when it comes to where the relationship is headed. It’s better off to clarify things at the start than to allow yourself to be led on. Go with your gut instinct, but also guard your heart in the process.
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