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You are his, but you are not. There is this thing between the two of you and it resembles a relationship, but you do not call it a relationship. But you are not exactly sure where you stand with him.


Kelly Gonsalves is a sex educator, relationship coach, and journalist. She received her journalism degree from Northwestern University, and her writings on sex, relationships, identity, and wellness have appeared at The Cut, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere. People can get constricted by narrow definitions of what constitutes a relationship, including expectations that they must be monogamous, must be between men and women, must be marriage-oriented, must involve five days a week spent glued at the hip, must involve a certain amount of sex, and many other rules.

This is why he doesn’t want to put a label on your ‘relationship’

But in reality, relationships aren't one-size-fits-all. This reality le some people to prefer being in relationships without labels. But that might not exactly be a solution to the problem of suffocating norms. When people talk about labels in a relationship, they're usually referring to terms like "dating," "in a relationship," "boyfriend and girlfriend," and the like. Here's a full guide to the most commonly used ones.

A relationship without labels is any arrangement between two people who are choosing not to adopt any such terms to describe their relationship. A relationship without labels can be exclusive or not exclusive, and it can fall anywhere between very casual and strictly sexual to totally emotionally invested and committed. Sometimes the pressure to live up to a certain set of behaviors keeps people from relationship labels.

Labels come with expectations, and if both parties are struggling to negotiate those expectations, forgoing or delaying the label might be the right move. For example, the words "boyfriend and girlfriend" might carry a lot of weight and assumptions about the nature of that relationship for some people. While some people might love the implied closeness or coziness of those words, others might not really vibe with the implied emotional investment. Some women might not resonate with the "girlfriend" label because it may carry assumptions about their emotional investment in the relationship or make them feel like they need to act a certain way toward the other person.

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Others might also treat the two people differently depending on the label they give, Francis points out: "The social response to a label may not reflect what your relationship is and may discourage folks from wanting to label their relationship at all. For example, maybe your families may relate to you being partners in a way that doesn't make you feel comfortable.

People often confuse labeling a relationship with making it more serious, committed, or monogamous. But having words to describe your relationship is simply about claritynot commitment. So if you feel you're at a place where you cannot or don't want to date one person exclusively, that should be communicated to your partner so that [they] can make a decision about whether that works for them.

Having a label is not the same as having commitment.

A relationship without labels vs. a relationship without commitment.

Labeling your relationship does not necessarily mean you're in a committed relationship, nor does saying you "don't do labels" absolve you from having a conversation about commitment. If you don't want to be in an exclusive or committed relationship, you still need to have a conversation to define the relationship. You can just settle on a label or set of terms that works for you, such as consensual nonmonogamycasual dating, or friends with benefits.

Yes, according to Tubbs. As far as she's concerned, the lack of clarity causes more harm than good. Are we friends who do a little bit more on the side?

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Are we dating exclusively or non-exclusively? It is so important to be clear from the beginning to avoid any heartbreak, feelings of being used or misled, and to protect the nature of the relationship as you both probably came together because you really liked each other.

Words do matter. Although Francis recognizes why some couples may not want to adopt a specific label loaded with baggage and that forgoing the label can be the right move for someshe does say it's important for couples to be able to get on the same about what they're doing together. Labels are helpful heuristics mental shortcuts for describing or communicating about a relationship," she explains.

Importantly, however, both therapists clarify that labels are not about putting ourselves into boxes and not a substitute for having an actual conversation about what each person wants.


Francis adds, "Labeling a relationship can be unhelpful when we don't take the time to define labels clearly within a relationship or use them to pressure others into dynamics they do not want to be in e. Whether or not you're feeling a label for your relationship, it's important to make sure you and the person you're with see eye to eye about what you're doing and to make sure that the relationship is healthy, fun, and fulfilling for both parties.

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8 reasons to chill on labelling relationships

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He says he likes me but doesn’t want a label – 6 relationship experts share their tips + insights

Our online classes and training programs allow you to learn from experts from anywhere in the world. Explore Classes. Expert review by Kristina Hallett, Ph. Board-certified Clinical Psychologist. Kristina Hallett, Ph. She has a private practice in Suffield, Connecticut. November 17, Relationships often suffer from too many rules. What is a relationship without labels? A relationship without labels vs.

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Is labeling your relationship a good idea? Kelly Gonsalves is a multi-certified sex educator and relationship coach based in Brooklyn, as well as the sex and relationships editor at mindbodygreen. She has a degree in journalism More On This Topic Love. Sarah Regan. With Megan Bruneau, M. Integrative Health. Jason Wachob. Jamie Schneider.

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The funny thing about labels is, when you need them the most is when you probably aren't in the right relationship or, er, relationship-like thing.


Lori Ann Davis.


Perhaps things have been going really well, so he figures he wants to keep the status quo for as long as possible.