Whenever I talk to my girlfriends about how wonderful things have been going between me and the guy I have been dating for over a year now, the question that inevitably seems to follow is “are you official yet?”
And quite frankly, that question irks me.
The word “official” seems to imply that my current relationship does not qualify as legitimate without the tile of “boyfriend/girlfriend.”
And the fact “yet” is also included seems to imply that my current status of dating should have evolved into something more by now.
Yes, I said I have been dating my significant other for over a year now.
And no, I do not call him my boyfriend.
And some people might find that strange and may ask me “why not?”
My question to those that wonder why is would it make any difference at all? Can a committed relationship exist without having to be defined by a boyfriend/girlfriend label?
In my case, my significant other and I are exclusively dating; meaning we are not going out on dates with other people, nor are we “talking” to other people. To put simply, we are completely committed to each other. And some might associate the term "significant other" as an equivalent of the term "boyfriend," but for me, it means someone who truly takes a significant level of importance in my life.
We do what any other “official” bf/gf couple does: movies, dinner, hand-holding, talk every day, meet the family, you name it.
He is my man, I am his girl.
The reason we don’t throw around that title is because we know what our relationship means to us, we know what we mean to each other, and we don’t feel the need, nor have the desire, to convince the world of what we are.
The benefits of going untitled have been the fact that we are not living up to any expectation of how a girlfriend or boyfriend should be like. There has never been any pressure to "figure out" what we are or where we are going. We are two people, enjoying each other’s company, going along for the ride.
Has there ever been a moment in your life where a close friend or family member questioned the status of your current or past relationship? And when that happened, did you ever get frustrated or think to yourself that “they just don’t understand?”
Bottom line, no one has to.
Cultural constructions and Hollywood movie depictions of love often romantize and paint a rosy, picture perfect idea of what love should be like. And I’m sure that many of us are guilty, myself included, of falling into the trap of believing that love should be like a fairy tale or a movie. Maybe it should be a kiss in the rain, a dozen roses, a man proposing, or a check off list of standards we expect love itself and the opposite sex to meet.
And there is nothing wrong with that. But we must remember sometimes love is not always that picture perfect.
Love is simply what is. Sometimes it can be good, difficult, complicated, crazy, rich or poor. And it can be represented in various and surprising ways. You might not even recognize it at first.
So whether you use the bf/gf terminology, or in an open relationship, or living happily together for over 10 years and not married, or dating and committed, realize there is no “status.” Only the strength of the feelings and of the love you both have for each other.
Whatever kind of relationship you have, however you both choose to define what you are, or not define what you are, only the people within the relationship know what it means to them.
And that is all that truly matters.