Have you ever asked yourself the question, “So what are we?” and “What does that mean?”
Sure you have if you fall into the category of anyone who has ever dated, believed in love, given it up after a night of drinking a little too much, or have f***ed just for the pleasure of it. Knowing your relationship status has more to do with you than it does with the other person or a Facebook status update.
But, if you are still confused on where you stand, what to call your relationship, or when to ascribe a certain label to a certain level, follow this handy guide I’ve written just for you. (For those of you who are going to b***h at me for using stereotypes, just know stereotypes are a real time saver.)
Don’t call me Shirley, but call yourself single if…
Your day consisted of waking up in bed by yourself, showering by yourself, making your own coffee/tea, doing all your own chores, and downloading your movie cache, Grey’s Anatomy, or sports program so that it will be ready for you when you get home from work. Your groceries are purchased on an as needed basis. You have created and deleted a few online dating profiles. You have gone on a few One-and-Done dates. Your sex life consists of clever masturbation habits and a few random hook-ups. You are online looking for relationship advice (Shameless plug: I’m a professional relationship counselor and I would be glad to advise you on such things). Your home library starts to fill up with self-help books and fitness magazines.
Once you have found yourself in the self-help aisle and you have time to read the books you downloaded on your Kindle from start to finish, a label by any other name would just be lying.
Honey, you are single.
And you know what? Good on you! Wear it well. Do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want. Get to know yourself. Because the moment you hook up with someone else, you will be trading in your single days like Wall Street trades stocks.
Get up, stand up and call it a hook-up if…
If your night started with the phase, “Game On” and your morning consisted of trying to remember your sex partner’s first name. You got involved in a drive-by relationship that may leave you feeling like you need to be hooked up to life support. You don’t know this person from Adam. In fact, was Adam his name?
Any good night of romping around with a stranger has a certain protocol that follows. If you have a hangover: drink coffee, eat a cheap diner breakfast, and follow up with introspection, pain killers, and plenty of fluids. After you rebound, call your local STD clinic and get tested.
Even if your one night fling was nothing but positive, the results can still be negative. And for your sake, I hope they are. And, if you are left wondering if there is more to come, you can always try to friend your fling on Facebook. No reply means you had yourself a hook-up.
What’s Next? Call it Casual sex if…
I’ve always loathed the term “casual sex.” It sounds like something that happens on a Friday when everyone wears jeans to work. That being said, if you are hooking-up for the pleasure of it, open to whatever works, and are willing to say “Come on over” at three in the morning, then rock those jeans on Friday, and rock your body whenever you can get some.
Being casual means there is no set frequency, no commitment, no consistency and no strings. The ties that bind may just be the ribbons wrapped around your wrists that are tied to the headboard. Your body is about to take a pleasure cruise to pleasure town. Compartmentalizing your pleasure is a major component to keeping it casual.
As a side note, it is a misnomer that being casual keeps it simple and easy because it takes a lot of effort to stay detached. Staying detached seemingly circumvents emotions, therefore exclusively channeling pleasure through physical sensation. Essentially, if you are just not in a place where you care to take responsibility for the impact you have on another person’s life, then you are more casual than the Big Lebowski. Rock that bathrobe and your white Russian, baby.
Half & Half. Call it friends with benefits if….
Call it a crush. Call it curiosity. Call it a tall shot of brandy mixed with boredom. You’ve called this person your friend for a while. You’ve talked to them about the people they have dated. They know about the people you have dated. You’ve gone to coffee together. You have limited knowledge of each others’ families. You know some of each others’ likes and dislikes. Hell, you may have even seen each other naked a time or two. Then someone tripped and fell and the next thing you know you are having sex without commitment.
In fact, you have had the conversation about how commitment is oppressive. It is something for blue collar folk who don’t ascribe to today’s bohemian spirit. Commitment is cliché and neither of you want to ruin the friendship with prefabricated social norms.
If you hug around friends and f*** behind closed doors your benefits package may also include wanting more. Someone almost always does. And if asymmetry is how you like your clothes and your relationships, then start your hipster cover band and call it Friends with Benefits.
Just like a calendar, call it dating if…
It is Friday night and you are feelin’ right. You cleared your schedule and the only thing you have to do is go have a fun night out on the town.
Dating does not look like it used to. A night on the town can mean spaghetti and sex at your place. It can mean renting a movie from red box and staying over at his place. And if between his place and your place you are making plans to go to the next place, you’ve got more than something to write in your day planner. You are dating.
Not all dates are equal. Some come with clearly defined intentions for the relationship while others marinate in ambiguity. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a good time. But, if you want that good time to last for a long time, maybe even a life-time, you have more to talk about than who is going to pick up the check.
Dating is where you discover what you do and don’t like. Go on and sort through your preferences. Make room for what you like and learn from what you don’t. Allow space for discovery. And get your calendar out because you are dating.
Autumn: AKA, fall. Call it falling in love if…
If you feel like a racehorse that has just won the Kentucky Derby that is weird because you are a human not a horse.
Dating can totally feel like running laps around a track. Saying I love you and hearing it in return can feel like winning and enormous prize. Much like a winning racehorse you get to strut around adorned by love’s graces. Sex abounds like untended dandelions on a sunlit hillside. Adoration of your most vile habits makes you feel like you can do no wrong. Brian Adam songs start to make perfect sense. You are 15 minutes late for everything. Superman’s job starts to look doable. You can’t wait to show off your partner to your friends and family. Your rational mind has perpetual vertigo.
You will lose weight and gain it back. Your body will feel like a round-the-clock pleasure maker. They call it falling because you haven’t landed yet. If your days and nights are spent in a holding pattern, baby, you are in love.
Sign, sealed and delivered. Call it commitment if…
I’m not just calling you my boyfriend. I’m not saying you are my girlfriend. We are saying to each other that we are a couple. We are exclusive. We have made agreements about our partnership. We want to buy a house together. We want to have children. We are walking down the aisle. We have flipped me upside down.
Buy yourself a tow truck because the baggage is coming with. And that is a good thing because you are embarking on a long journey together. Shit just got really real because we doesn’t do whatever we wants whenever we wants it. We is collaborative, communicative and continually caring. Break it down and commitment is: I meant it with a few more letters mixed it. If you are mixing it up by blending your life with the one you love, you are committed.
Sometimes we just need to know where we are to know where we want to go. You and a little bit of magic are the prime movers in your life. Sign up for the good stuff by calling stuff what it is. Start by labeling yourself amazing, because you are.
In case you’re at that point in your relationship, put one on:
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Ed: Brianna Bemel