Whatever happened to romance and chivalry, huh? Wearing someones pin? "Going steady"?
Today, we live in the increasingly murky and overwhelming vague "hookup" culture, where you might be exclusively seeing only one person's genitals for multiple months and barely calling it "a thing."
While casual sex is on the upswing, so is fear of commitment, leaving most young people hooking up with one or two people consistently but still considering themselves single.
This is the thing to remember: If you are exclusively, monogamously seeing someone but they do not want to acknowledge your relationship in public, to their friends or on social media, it is not a relationship and you are wasting your time.
Dating in secret does not true love make.
I know "a friend" who did this for two years. She's awesome. You guys would love her. She's, like, really funny and writes for the internet and anyway, just trust me, she's great.
"She" was hooking up with a truly awesome old friend of hers and slept with him and only him for two years before she figured out they weren't actually a couple. TWO YEARS.
She thought, "Hey, we watch movies and order take-out and have sex and wait in line at the CVS pharmacy together and have mutual respect for each other as people," and as far as I — I MEAN, SHE — was concerned, that's a relationship.
And she's not wrong. That walks, talks and acts like a relationship. But the fundamental ingredient missing is acknowledgement.
pullquote]That walks, talks and acts like a relationship, but the fundamental ingredient missing is acknowledgement[/pullquote]
It was extra confusing for her because he was and is a kind human who always treated her great. The messy part came when they both agreed they would not tell their friends they were hooking up, just to "keep things simple."
It took her unexpectedly bursting into tears one day while they were hanging out in Central Park for her to figure out that a) she apparently cared a lot more than she thought and b) he cared a lot LESS than she thought.
They weirdly hugged on a rock and went separate ways.
A common mistake people make is thinking that if someone is sweet, loving and vulnerable behind closed doors, then that must mean they "actually care" and are "too afraid to admit to themselves they love me."
What it actually means is that they are using you for your emotional support or as a way to boost their own confidence, while simultaneously wanting to keep their options open for something or someone else.
And that sucks. It totally sucks.
The best way to keep everyone honest and all the boundaries clear is by talking it out, as awkward or scary as that might be. As long as you stick to the facts, your hookup buddy will be hard-pressed to manipulate or twist your words.
Say, "So. We have been exclusive for [insert time frame]. I would like to either call this a relationship out loud, or know I should move on."
If you're like meIMEANMYFRIEND, you might avoid this conversation because you already suspect it isn't going to go down the and-then-they-lived-happily-ever-after route, and you might think it is better to be in a secret relationship than in no relationship at all.
Listen to me when I say NO, YOU DESERVE BETTER.
You deserve to date someone who wants to tell their friends about you.
You deserve someone who loves the way you look in photos together.
You deserve someone who, when asked, says, "Yes. I'm dating this great girl and I am not interested in what else is out there right now."
You deserve an OUT LOUD relationship.
You deserve an OUT LOUD relationship.
We all fundamentally know when we are giving (or are capable of giving) more than we are getting, and the key to a successful relationship is matching each other in enthusiasm, effort and... honestly, eventually... making it Facebook official.
Distinguishing a fling from a secret relationship from a real relationship is not easy — and I recommend you follow your gut.