After living the life I’ve lived, it’s become increasingly difficult to openly place labels on myself. Labels like: I’m agnostic, a liberal, or I’m someones girlfriend. Labels that define who I am in society.
If you had asked me three years ago what those labels were I would have told you that I was someones girlfriend (hopefully future wife) and I was Mormon. Now, that’s changed drastically. With the experiences I’ve had with relationships in the past 3-4 years, I’ve become increasingly aware of what labels do. They automatically make people around you expect certain things. Single and in your 20’s? Better start looking for a partner! In a relationship? Marriage is in your near future! Married? Time for kids! Your relationship status creates an automated path that has been created by our society.
I have been born and raised in Utah where this is especially prominent. It’s also prominent among my family as well. When I met my current partner, Nate, I was so far from wanting any sort of relationship the thought never even crossed my mind. Even as we became increasingly closer, I didn’t want to say that we were an item. I knew that as soon as I said we were together, there would be expectations. It irks me that there are these “guidelines” that are supposed to determine how a relationship should go. So, even though it seems my partner and I were together for a while, we kept the label away.
We’ve known each other a little over 5 months, and finally decided to say that we’re a couple because 1) everyone already thinks we’re a couple and 2) introducing each other as, “Um, this is my… friend…?” was becoming increasingly awkward.
Luckily for the both of us, we’ve dragged out not being a couple for so long that no one has expectations now we’ve decided it’s time to place the girlfriend and boyfriend label on it. Nothing has changed which is how I wanted it.
You know how when you tell everyone you’re in a relationship, and everyone freaks out because they’re so excited and they want all the juicy details of how you met, how he asked you to be his girlfriend, etc? That’s part of why I didn’t want a relationship. I didn’t want people invading into that personal part of my life. I’m willing to share it, but when everyone expects certain stories or expects certain actions, it feels wrong. The relationship with my partner has been pretty unconventional. We don’t care about celebrating anniversaries, PDA, getting married or having children. We just want to live our lives and take the moments as they come.
Of course, there was another reason I didn’t want to place a label on us. My last 3 relationships I’ve had with other men all ended in disaster. I’ve had more than my fair share of heartbreak, cheating, lying, abuse, etc. They scared me away from wanting to have an official relationship with anyone because there were too many parts of a relationship that freaked me out. Two years of being single really let those feelings sink in as well. I felt that if I became too attached or followed too many of society’s guidelines, I’d lose who I was as an individual.
This relationship has been extremely relaxed and grown into something amazing. The pressure I felt in my other relationships is nowhere to be found in this one.
So, I’ll put a label on this and say that I’m in a relationship. The main difference is that it’s not society’s label. It’s my own. I made this label and I don’t care what anyone says or thinks. It says:
Status: In a Relationship
Details: It’s none of your damn business. Just know I’m happy.