It sounds a little laughable, doesn’t it? The infamous “sort of” relationship is not easily defined, yet is frequently exercised.
It’s the situation when you’re “with” someone, but you’re not with him or her in the fully committed fashion. It’s essentially relationship purgatory.
There are a number of reasons why we create these odd companionships: “It’s just not a good time for more,” “We aren’t ready to get back together, but we aren’t broken up,” “I’m not looking for a serious relationship,” “We’re just keeping it casual.”
Well, that sounds all fine and well — until things start to get messy. Here's why it doesn't work:
1. The lines are blurred about exclusivity.
You’re technically not together. Maybe you used to be or maybe you will be later on, but you aren’t now. So, that means you can be with other people, right? Maybe. Well, no, probably not.
You see, people want to be casual and totally cool with dating other people, which is sustainable until they see someone with whom they spend a lot of time in the arms of someone else.
Then, they want to be cool and casual while also strangling someone at a bar until the police have to pry them off.
2. You end up playing a game of small wins.
It’s like achieving tiny doses of revenge. You have to make sure you’re keeping some sort of upper hand because you don’t want to be the one who cares “too much” or ends up looking like the first to falter into those nasty relationship-like emotions.
You pull each other closer and push each other away again. It’s a game of tug-of-war that never seems to end. The battles are small, but add up.
“Oh, he went out tonight and took a drunken photo with all these girls? Two can play that game — I don’t care either, damn it. Pass the tequila.”
3. You don’t have to be there for each other for the bad stuff.
We naturally want to be able to trust and depend on one another, but when you aren’t sure where you stand, there is no stability. There are no guarantees that the other person will pick up the phone at any time and make you smile on your worst of days.
There are no promises of his integrity or that he won’t get up and leave you at any moment. He isn't the person you know will go along with you to that dorky family event.
He doesn’t have to be to there to wipe away tears or tell you that he has your back no matter what happens.
The thing about it not being a relationship is that he honestly didn’t sign on for the bad with the good. He can ignore the bad and reject you at your worst because you allowed him the opportunity to have you in his life regardless.
4. Someone can — and usually does — end up getting more emotionally involved.
It’s natural when you’re spending a lot of time with someone, especially if that time is spent being intimate. You tell each other that it’s not a serious relationship, and you are positive that isn’t what you want right now anyway.
You tell yourself that it’s your choice to remain unattached, but sometimes, the heart takes over. It has a way of doing that and when it does, everything can change without the other person even knowing. When it does, people can get hurt.
5. The expectations you have for each other are unclear.
You have no idea what to expect of each other. Should he take you out on Valentine’s Day? Should you get him a Christmas present? Do you talk on the phone? How long can he or she not talk to you without it being a problem? Are you justified in being angry?
The worst part is that you aren’t sure about any of these things and can still feel hurt and disappointed if you expect something he or she had no intention of doing in the first place.
The other person can then feel wronged and condemned for failing to meet an expectation he or she wasn't even aware existed.
6. Your public status is too confusing, and people certainly ask.
What do you do if your parents come over? Parents love to ask questions. Your mom will probably start talking about babies and then, he’ll definitely bolt.
What about your friends? They’ll start wanting to do double dates. Do double dates make you a couple? Then, there's the whole matter of wondering what he or she says to his or her friends. Maybe a special friend? That just sounds creepy…
7. You create enemies.
Other people get tangled in your confusion. There’s that girl who kissed your pseudo-boyfriend and then became your mortal enemy, and naturally, the mortal enemy of all of your friends, as well.
Mind you, the girl had no idea he was your somewhat significant other, but jealousy and embarrassment never seem to care about the logistics.
There are also the people each of you date during your off periods, but they get cast aside when the two of you are sporadically serious. Those off-period significant others generally aren’t too fond of the situation either.
8. You can keep each other from other relationships, which creates resentment.
In those moments when you feel alone, it crosses your mind that you may have let yourself walk away from opportunities for real relationships.
Whether it was because you were half-dating your ex or casually dating someone else, you feel like you gave up the chance to meet someone who may have wanted you fully, for someone who did not.
This creates a sense of resentment. It isn’t fair because you made your choices. Therefore, you end up caught in a battle of whether you should resent the person you’re partially with or yourself.
9. You start to doubt your worth.
Everyone wants to be wanted. Even if you don’t fully want to be with someone, it eventually crosses your mind that he may not fully want you either.
No matter what anyone says, you think about it. Then, you start to question a few things: Why doesn’t he want you? Is there something wrong with you?
If there is something wrong with you, does it mean that no one will want to be with you? Self-doubt illuminates in insufficient relationships you have with other people.
It can cause you to be more insecure in general, and can cause conflicts with both your part-time lover and future ones as well.
10. You get bored.
There’s only so much you can do with someone when you are constantly trying to make sure you don’t take things too far. Your options get limited. Going out together eventually gets old, and if intimacy is shallow, that can get old, too.
When the lights turn on, the music fades and hangovers get longer. Sometimes, the images in front of us just don’t seem as exciting as they once did.
11. You won’t make time for each other.
You don’t have to. Eventually, when life starts getting hectic, you pull away from each other because there is no priority. One party may feel betrayed by the drifting, depending upon who begins the process.
12. It becomes difficult to be clear with each other.
One of the most critical elements of dating is simply open and honest communication. It is about being clear with one another about what you want, so if the desires do not align, you can hopefully walk away respectively.
However, it doesn’t always work that way.
Even if someone doesn’t want to be in a relationship, as time passes, he or she may be more ambiguous about his or her intentions in hopes of not losing the other person.
That, or he or she just starts to feel like he or she owes it to the person to lie to spare his or her feelings. The only — I repeat, only — way this situation has a chance of not being messy is honesty, and it isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Date, have fun, be brave, express yourself, be honest, love freely and be happy. Don’t try to create weird hybrid relationships if there is anything about it that doesn’t feel like what you want.
It’s okay to be casual, but keep in mind the reasons why it’s important to be clear with each other. Most of the time, pseudo-relationships can only last so long before one of these factors creates an issue.
It’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to open up your heart and want to be with someone, too. Both options take bravery, but sometimes, it’s better to gather your courage and just choose one or the other.