You’re walking through the aisle in a grocery store; and an item, not on your list, grabs your eye- what do you do? Most of us would turn the item around and read the label.
How many calories? what’s the serving size? How much sugar? How much sodium? Is it gluten-free? Is it lactose-free? Is it soy-free, low-fat, no-fat, trans-fat, nut-free? We rely on labels to help steer us clear of any and all items that may be detrimental to our health and/or current fitness goals. You wouldn’t walk into a store, pick up a totally random item, and buy it without knowing what it is or if it’s good for; would you?
In 1862 President Lincoln launches the Dept of Agriculture & what we now know as the FDA.
In 1958- Food Additives Amendment makes it a requirement for manufacturers to declare all additives in a product.
In 1966 Fair Packaging & Labeling Act requires all consumer products in interstate commerce to be honestly and informatively labeled, including food.
In 1994- Introduction of the Nutrition Facts panel, basic per-serving information is required on most foods under the NLEA of 1990.
In 2003- FDA announces food labels to include trans-fat content. (Effective 2006).
The above is just a tiny example of how we, the consumer, have become reliant on labels in relation to what we put in our bodies. As you can see; as the years passed labels and information became, not only more available, but more detailed for the consumer.
So, why do we not require the same when it comes to the world of dating? Why do so many people resist labelling their encounters, then turn around and become upset when things don’t go their way? If you’re driving from point A to point B you have a road map and a set of directions that will aid you in reaching your destination. However, so many people hop into vehicles (situations) at point A and have no idea where they want to end up. News flash! That fly by the seat of your pants approach only works in movies. In real life, entering a situation without a goal in mind will almost always have you driving yourself off a cliff of crazy.
As I write this post, I am single. I am not having sex with and/or dating anyone at this moment. If I meet a person that I fancy and they fancy me back and we go on more than one date, we will be “dating”. If we decide that we only want to date each other, then we are “exclusively dating”. Once we decide to be in a monogamous relationship, he becomes my boyfriend and I become his girlfriend or he’s my man and I’m his woman (if the other seems to adolescent for you). We remain partners (boyfriend/girlfriend) until he proposes; in which case we share the title of fiancé. And finally, once we are married, I become his wife and he will become my husband. These are the labels I grew up on, and I use these labels to define my relationships. However, over the years I’ve realized that I am now in a world of “non-labels”. These connections have names but their title is Hella confusing and often undefined.
For example, you have: “boo” and “bae”- but what does this mean. Terms of endearment –do not a commitment make. Then you have the: “just chilling” and “seeing where things go” that tend to linger on for eternity.
And lastly you have the: Friends w/ Benefits (FWB; which in most cases is just a glorified title for fuck-buddy. (Especially when nothing is done outside of sex) I don’t have sex with my friends so- we are not friends with benefits; we are either fuck-buddies or in a sexsationship.
In this new era of dating it seems that nobody likes labels. I often watch reality TV; and there’s always some girl dating some guy and she’ll ask him “what are we?” and he’ll often respond “we’re just chilling” or “you’re my bae”. A few weeks later or in some cases, after a commercial break, they’ll be another girl dealing with the same guy. When he’s confronted by either girl A or B about his infidelity he says “I never said we was exclusive” or “why you tripping?” blah, blah, blah; the girls fight each other and commercial break. Over the course of the show the girls go back and forth arguing with each other and or him. I’m often left wondering why don’t they: establish clear exclusive rules with the guy before assuming he’s on the same page. Meaning- label and define the commitment; so, he knows that he has a girlfriend and you have a boyfriend and there can be no gray area for misunderstanding.
I don’t subscribe to this lack of labelling. The whole- seeing where things go, is a bull shit excuse for- I like you; but I want to keep my options open, just in case someone better comes along or you change up on me. I need a label to know what the hell we are doing and where the hell we are going, and if we’re both heading in the same direction. There is always going to be someone you find more attractive than the person you’re with and the same goes for your partner. The challenge is seeing what you currently have in front of you and deciding to walk that road together. Not every road is going to lead to happily ever after, but there is always a lesson learned. The problem with dating (especially in the era of left & right swipe) is that people are always looking for the next best thing. You can get everything delivered; medications, food, movies, groceries, clothes, etc. Buy an outfit, you don’t like it send it back- easy. But that’s not real life. You have to put in some kind of work for the results to be worth it, but you’ll never know how much work to put in if there is no title, label, and or goal to be met. The expectations for your fuck-buddy (FB) is totally different from your partner (BF/GF). If you allow the behavior of a FB to become standard you may find yourself slipping into a half-ass relationship. For Example: With my last ex (The Fuckboy from The Ex Files); it was obvious I did not have these standards when I started dating him. I let the sexsationship roll on for months without expectations, because we wanted to “see where things went”. The problem with this was; once I knew I was ready to be exclusive I didn’t say anything for fear he would leave if I pressured him. So, I found myself in a less than satisfactory relationship.
I find that many of us, especially women, will allow ourselves to remain unlabeled because we don’t want to scare our partner into commitment. This fear is totally understandable, but we have to ask ourselves- what do we want and how long are we willing to wait to get it? It doesn’t take me long to decide if I want to try dating a man exclusively. Normally, within 5 good dates, and good conversation I know if I want to give it a try. If after 5 dates I don’t see myself being your girlfriend, I will begin to draw boundaries that puts a man in the “friend zone”; he may be nice but- he’s just not for me.
If you truly want to be single, then be single. If you want convenient sex with not commitment, then make that clear to your sexual partner. You don’t have to say “we’re fuck buddies” but make it clear that you are both free to do whatever each of you wants. Do not string the other person along because you are too chicken-shit to be honest about what you really want and/or are willing to give. If you find yourself in a situation where you want more but your partner keeps leaving you without a clear answer; you have to make the decision for him or her. Make it very clear what you want and be prepared to walk away if your partner is unwilling and/or not ready to be what you want- LEAVE! Staying in a half-ass situation because you don’t want to “be alone” all while you often find yourself “alone” is simply crazy. Stop playing the non-labels game and PUT A LABEL ON IT!