When is a relationship a relationship?

It is one of the most difficult things to call – when a series of dates has turned into a total gargled relationship. Rebecca Holman, a possibly single 30 year-old, shares some handy tips and lays down a few ground rules.

1:07PM GMT 20 Jan 2015

I often get asked if I have a beau. And every time I can cheerfully, emphatically response with a “,nope, still as repulsive to the opposite lovemaking as last time you asked, thank you very much”,.

However, a problem arises if you ask me if I’,m watching someone. “,Well…,sort of…,I mean, we’,re not indeed observing observing each other we’,re just witnessing each other. Do you know what I mean?”,

Invariably if the person I’,m speaking to has been single at any point in the last decade, then yes, they know exactly what I mean, because if there’,s one screenplay that’,s become endemic amongst myself and my peers, it’,s our inability to define a relationship after the very first five or six dates.

It’,s fine at very first –, you go on a few dates with someone and you’,re doing just that, you’,re dating.

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But what about the twelfth date? Is it too soon to refer to someone as your bf? If so, then what are you doing? If you’,ve been on 12 dates with someone, you truly don’,t still want to be observing other people do you? But if you’,re not witnessing anyone else, and you’,re watching a lot of each other what on earth is it if it’,s not a relationship?

Hedging your bets is the norm

One friend (who wishes to remain anonymous lest her non-boyfriend reads this) explains: “,I’,ve been watching this fellow for four months now –, we’,re dating and see each other a duo of times a week. However, if anyone refers to me as his gf in front of him, the colour drains from his face. When I asked him if we were going out decently he just said he ‘,wasn’,t there yet, and wasn’,t even sure if he dreamed a serious relationship.’,

“,I don’,t want to shove it as I have a truly nice time with him. I don’,t want to come across as some relationship-obsessed harpy and I’,m sure once we’,ve been eyeing each other for long enough he’,ll come round –, we’,re in a relationship in all but name anyway.”,

I slightly want to bang my head against the keyboard now, not least because I’,ve said the same thing more than once in the past. I’,m not judging –, I can see how effortless it is to get into that situation.

Earlier this year, The Fresh York Times published an article called “,The End of Courtship?”, explaining how decent dating has been substituted with casual hook ups and ill-defined relationships. Online dating, and our capability to be in constant contact with everyone we know via text, email or social media make us unwilling to commit to one person, and more likely to want to hedge our bets.

What you should say if you don’t know where you stand?

So, let me help you out with some suggestions next time you’,re asked to define your non-relationship:

“,Well Gran, it’,s funny you should ask, there is someone on the scene, we’,re: sleeping together/eyeing each other/dating/friends with benefits/friends (evidently the same as friends with benefits, but twice as infuriating) /having an affair (it’,s unfortunate when, after 12 dates you detect that his reticence to define your relationship is down to his previously unmentioned wifey) or wasting each other’,s time until something better comes along.”,

Technology killed the relationship starlet

I agree that technology –, evil, brain-sapping technology –, might play its part here. We can be in touch with our potential paramours all the time –, via texts, on Facebook, on email –, and this constant contact can be misleading –, providing us the impression that we’,re embroiled in something much more meaningful than we truly are.

But the fact is –, and this is something I’,ve had to learn the hard way –, if one of you isn’,t calling it a relationship, Then. It. Is. Not. A. Relationship.

And when I say I’,ve learnt this the hard way, I mean it. In an article I wrote earlier this year about modern dating, I used the example of a man I’,d been sleeping with for over a year, who got cross when I referred to him as my bf. When I asked for further clarification as to what we were doing he said “,We’,re friends – you’,re my friend.”,

Hilariously, when the article in question came out, a duo of my other exes read the lump and took credit for that particular quote (hint: it was none of them), which is a sorry example of fairly how often I’ve gone down that particular road.

My fresh cut-off point

But no more! My fresh rule is, eight weeks –, if someone won’,t call it after eight weeks, then I’,m out of there. My reasoning being that if someone doesn’,t feel strongly enough about me after a duo of months, then they’,re never going to feel strongly enough for me to spend time and energy on them.

Yes, I could string up around, attempt and coax them into it, or just generally deny to go away until it becomes lighter for them to give in –, but who wants to do that? That’,s like being awarded a relationship through squatter’,s rights.

And if you land a bf that way and then ‘,win’, (and by ‘,win,’, I mean you get the ultimate prize –, marriage) then can you ever truly unwind, knowing they were so blase about you when you very first met that it took them six months, nine months, a year to refer to you as their gf?

However, according to a masculine friend, it’,s just the way some dudes are. “,I’,ve never willingly called any of the women I’,ve been out with my girlfriends –, even the ones I’,ve lived with. I always have to be indeed shoved into making it more serious –, but that’,s just the way I am, it’,s nothing private.”,

I’,m not sure I buy this –, how would his (fortunate, fortunate) gf feel if she heard him telling, outright, that he hadn’,t been too fussed about her when they got together, and that they’,re only together now because of her tenacity?

The thing is, you can make any excuse you like when you truly fancy, or even love someone. “,They’,re still getting over their ex,”, “,they just need more time,”, or (ugh) “,they’,re panicked of commitment,”, but the fact is when someone meets the right person, they can’,t propose marriage, or a joint rental agreement quick enough.

Of course, there’,s always the chance that I’,m (shocker) wrong –, maybe eight weeks is far too early to call it –, maybe I’,m going to miss out on swathes of wonderful, slightly indecisive boys who need longer than a duo of months to determine if they want to be in a relationship. They’,ll end up with women much more nurturing and patient than I, who realised that all they needed was a bit of time and gentle guidance.

Maybe I’,m being old fashioned and just plain unrealistic to think that I should wait for someone who’,s actually interested enough to want to pursue me, who knows for certain from the out that they want a relationship with me –, and who doesn’,t need talking into the bloody thing.

When is the right time to say I love you?

Or maybe I’,m just particularly unlucky when it comes to studs. A survey carried out last year by dating website ‘,Seeking Arrangements’, found that most couples tend to say ‘,I love you’, after 14 dates –, or seven weeks (the average number of dates per week was two). Similarly, most fresh couples introduced each other to friends for the very first time after six dates or three weeks, and that people are most likely to introduce their fresh boy or gf to their parents after 12 dates or six weeks. And if things go well, dating couples budge in with each other, on average, after 30 weeks or 60 dates.

So, from now on I’,m sticking to my guns –, if you won’,t call it after eight weeks, then I’,m out of there. Maybe that’,s a bit dogmatic but everyone’,s got to draw a line somewhere. And if there’,s one thing I learnt from my 20s, it’,s that I’,m not going to waste any of my time on dudes who won’,t even waste a noun on me.

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