It sounds a little laughable, doesn’t it? The infamous “sort of” relationships is not easily defined, yet is frequently exercised. It’s the situation that happens when you’re “with” someone, but you’re not with them in the fully and 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.” “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, and then things start getting messy.
1. The lines are blurred about exclusivity.
You’re technically not together. Maybe you used to be or you may 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, everybody wants to be casual and totally cool with dating other people, until they see someone they spend a lot of time with 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. You wouldn’t want to be the one that 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 dammit. Pass the tequila.”
3. They don’t have to be there for the bad.
We naturally want to be able to trust and depend on one another. When you aren’t sure where you stand there is no stability. There are no guarantees that they’ll pick up the phone at any time, and make you smile on your worst of days. There are no promises of their integrity or that they won’t get up and leave you at any moment. They aren’t the person you know will go along with you to that dorky family event. They don’t have to be to there to wipe away tears, or tell you that they have your back no matter what happens. The thing about it not being a relationship, is that they honestly didn’t sign on for the bad with the good. They can ignore the bad and reject you at your worst, because you allowed them the opportunity to have you in their life regardless.
4. Someone can, and usually does end up getting more emotionally involved.
It’s natural. You’re spending a lot of time with someone. You may also be spending intimate time with them. You tell each other that it’s not a serious relationship. You are positive that isn’t what you want right now. 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 they take you out on Valentine’s Day? Should you get them 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 with them? The worst part is that you aren’t sure about any of these things and despite yourself can still feel hurt and disappointed if you expected something that they had no intention of doing. They can then feel wronged and condemned for not meeting an expectation they weren’t even aware they were supposed to meet.
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 theres the whole matter of wondering what he or she says to their friends. Maybe a special friend? That just sounds creepy…
7. You create enemies.
Other people get tangled in your confusion. There’s that girl that 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 jealously and embarrassment never seem to care about the logistics. There are also the people each of you date on your off periods, but get cast aside when the two of you go through bouts of time that seem more serious with one another. They aren’t usually too fond of the situation either.
8. You can keep each other from other relationships and create resentment.
In those moments that you feel alone, it happens to cross 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 causally 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. It creates a sense of resentment. It isn’t fair because you made your choices. Therefore you end up caught between 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 they don’t fully want you either. No matter what anyone says, you think about it. Then you start to question a few things. Why don’t they 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 with others. It can cause you to be more insecure in general, and cause conflicts with your part-time lover, and then 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 it can too. When the lights turn on, the music fades, and hangovers get longer, sometimes the image in front of us just doesn’t seem as exciting as it 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 too 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 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 goes on they may be more ambiguous about their intentions in hopes of not losing the other person. That or they just start to feel they owe it to the person to lie to spare their 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 OK to be casual, but keep in mind there are 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 OK to be alone. It’s OK to open up your heart and want to be with someone too. Both options take bravery, but sometimes it’s better to gather up your courage and just choose one or the other.
Image credit: We Heart It
More About the Author
Lexi is the founder of HerTrack.com. She is also an SEO Nerd living in New York City with her cat and collection of cheesy coffee mugs. Lexi contributes to a number of online publications and is always trying to get involved in the conversation. She’s an advocate for equality, knowledge, healthy relationships, compassion, self-confidence, integrity and above all, love. She’s addicted to caffeinated beverages and people who make her smile.