When I was in the Dominicans for holiday, the locals kept calling me Toyota.
“First of all, I’m not Japanese!” I’d respond angrily. “And second of all, that’s a CAR!!!!”
“Ok, ok. Calm down Kung Pao Chicken!” They’d laugh.
“Delicious, but not my name!!!”
They’d stare at me blankly, “Whatever you say Jackie Chan.”
Ok, close enough.
I get it, labels are important. As indicated by numerous studies, scientific articles and those two ladies on that podcast: labels help us process information quicker.
However, one area where labels have not improved is: Relationships.
Too many varieties. No clear definitions.
The following is a variation of conversations that all gals in the 21st century will inevitably have:
“How was your weekend?”
“Good! Brian(or Bilal or Mikhail ) took me to this new Italian restaurant(or Greek or Taco Bell) that just opened.”
“So things are going well with your boyfriend?”
“He’s not my boyfriend.”
“I thought you guys were together…”
“But you are not boyfriend/girlfriend?”
“So what are you?”
“We’re…in that in-between stage. I mean, a BOYFRIEND is someone you take home to mom. It means you’re serious and on the path to marriage. It requires a level of commitment that we’re just not ready for. So we’ve mutually agreed not define ourselves by such strict perimeters. I guess what I’m saying is…”
“I… was just trying to make conversation.” Sigh and walk away. “Kids these days….”
Existing labels are insufficient to accommodate 21st century relationships. We need a new name for this in-between stage so as to avoid unnecessary and length explanations at every work social and family get-together.
Here are my suggestions:
- The Special Man-Friend stage (As in “OMG, he’s my SMF, not BF, so quit asking so many questions you nosy SOB!)
- The Relationship Hazing stage (There are tests and you usually end up naked.)
- The Cool Whip stage (It’s artifical, but you gotta eat it to get to the actual pie)
Let’s face it, nobody likes this stage. It’s confusing. Your emotions are a rollercoaster. You still shave your legs.
Yet, it’s a stage everyone seem go through these days. Go ahead, ask any friend that started dating in the last 5 years.
It’s relationship purgatory.
I blame Twitter.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is…
No, Johan and I were not boyfriend and girlfriend yet.
We still introduced each other by first names. “This is…Kathy.” Awkward pauses mandatory.
“Do you want me to introduce you as my girlfriend?” He would probe to see if I was secretly angry.
“Not really…” I would ponder seriously. “We just started dating exclusively. We don’t need to put a label on it just yet… What do you think?”
“I’m a guy. I’m happy with status quo unless someone feels otherwise.” He made it sound so simple. “As long as you’re fine…”
“I’m fine with it.”
What is it about our generation? We spend our life savings on travels but can’t seem to move out of our parent’s basement. We want choices but has trouble deciding what to have for lunch.
Perhaps it’s because we watched our parents’ marriage crumble like a house of cards? And henceforth determined not to marry in haste.
“Commitment Issues” are served with a side of kale salad, as we are ever more careful about finding the perfect partner for life. We have more options and choices than our parents ever did.
Except when you find yourself paralyzed at the salad dressing aisle, wondering if you want the Regular Italian or the Zesty Italian Lite. And what’s that over there? OMG! Organic Raspberry Mango Balsamic???
Skip the salad, and get Kung Pao Chicken instead.