No Label

The dating culture has evolved and changed over the years with people going from “courting” and “going steady”, to dating “unexclusively” and “hooking up.” Of course, this isn’t the case with all relationships but the fact of the matter is today’s dating culture is rapidly turning into a hook up culture, leaving couples in a “no label” zone.

Once upon a time, people would act on immediate interest and buy into a relationship with certainty. Today, it seems like it takes weeks of fooling around before you can even decide if you actually want to get to know each other. I’m not saying that our generation is completely foreign to the act of dating but rather the concept of it. We are more than capable of a wining and dining but less able to articulate a desire for partnership and a steady relationship. We’re a generation of serial daters.

Commitment seems to have become pretty much a nuisance that is ultimately feared by many causing the popularity of casual, laid back dating. It does sound quite simple and appealing, doesn’t it? No strings attached, no added responsibilities and no over-the-top relationship cheesiness. It’s like getting the perks of a relationship without actually having to be in one. Realistically though, label-less relationships come with a lot more baggage than what is expected.

Somewhere along the line, we grew fearful of commitment to the label of dating. If you’re a single 30-something who’s at all involved in the current romantic world, you have no doubt heard or had the “I don’t like using labels” conversation. Instead of circling the simple “yes” or “no” on the “Will you be mine?” questionnaire, our generation penciled in a dozen of our own “maybe” subcategories.

Dating is now divided into countless label-less labels such as “friends with benefits”, “someone you’ve been seeing”, “casual hookup” and the list goes on and on and on and on. The lines and boundaries of dating have been blurred from committed to casual to down right confusing. How long do you have to buy vowels until you have enough letters to spell out a real relationship title?

Can Any Relationship Be Void Of Feelings?

It’s normal when you are with someone to feel happy, angry or even jealous. These feelings, though, can never be justified when you’re in the no label zone. Someone hits on the person you’re with at a bar. You feel jealous. What are you going to do? Well, you’re not technically with the person so your options are a) looking nuts by getting upset b) shirking off into a corner and drowning yourself in a straw full of mojito.

Can one jump headfirst into any agreement without any feelings involved? Can we simply turn some kind of switch off in order to stop ourselves from getting attached to a person?  A no label relationship is simply NOT an actual relationship, so your feelings of love and jealousy need to go out of the window the moment you get into one. Can you seriously handle that?

No Rules, No Commitment…

Seeing as how a “no label” relationship entails zero commitment, any of both parties can essentially flirt and hit on whoever they want, there are basically no rules for actions. You have every right not to be monogamous, as do they, and none of you can say anything about it. In other words, if you snap at them because they flirted with someone at last night’s party, your behavior will seem odd, unjustified and a little too clingy.

You may go along with the idea, desiring to project that laid back vibe, all the while hoping for a RomCom ending in which your partner realizes that he or she is madly in love with you. But, life isn’t a RomCom and not every casual sex story ends with some hot actor professing his or her love for you.

Zero Expectations

A casual fling is essentially pursued for the fun of it and not for you to get all sentimental and expect the other person to do the same. You need to have absolutely no expectations. An open relationship won’t get you someone to take you out on the most dazzlingly creative dates or someone you can text at 4am when you cannot sleep. You won’t be with someone who will make you soup when you’re sick or call you before your big meeting to wish you good luck. If ever you start expecting the other person to do any of these things, you’re just setting yourself up for a major disappointment.

When things get complicated because with attachment comes expectations. One person may just simply start wanting more out of the essentially non-existent relationship. One person may want the other to be faithful and committed, whereas the other will just want to stick to the initial agreement, saying they want to “keep exploring this new territory” or they just want to simply “enjoy life” and claiming that they cannot be tied down by a relationship. You’ll basically be raining all over their parade of fun, making you look a bit needy and overly-attached.

How Will Other People Define It?

This is when the awkwardness begins. Your friends will ask time and time again “so you’re together…?” and you’ll have to sit there explaining why you’re actually not and attempting to justify your, to them, absurd choice not to be exclusive. Just because you’re both fine with having no labels, doesn’t mean other people are. Then again, it is your life and you get to make your own choices, regardless of what people think.

You Cannot Escape The Inevitable

Like any bottled beer, there comes a certain point when you have to read the expiration date and decide whether to drink it before it’s skunked or just let it go. No label relationships always come to some sort of a deadend. However, there are still others who think that a no label relationships provide space and peace of mind to try, see, compare, enjoy or drop without the hassles.

In the end, it is ultimately your choice, and in order to make it, you need to truly know what you want out of a relationship. Now that you know what a ‘no label’ relationship entails, you need to see if it fits with your emotional needs and priorities before you jump into unfamiliar waters.