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Dear Honeys on the Hill, 

I have been hanging out with this boy for a few weeks and he started to talk with me about defining our relationship. He expressed concern that he doesn’t know what to tell people when they ask what we are. I feel as though he just wants to define our relationship and be official because a label makes it easier, so I’m not sure he wants to be my boyfriend for the right reasons. Why do I feel like dating is such a big deal? Is it all that different to not define the relationship and just exist in the gray space? 

Sincerely, 

“Officially” Distressed 

 

Dear “Officially” Distressed,

To date or not to date, that is the question. Our generation has been criticized for being scared of commitment, killing modern romance and for being the reason dating is dead. Just a simple google search of “millenials and romance” generates pages upon pages of negative articles. We live in a day where communication is streamlined rather than face-to-face. This makes real life feelings and relationships hard.

You are not alone, “Officially” Distressed. Do not be dissuaded by the pessimistic reports about the romance of our time.  Although it may seem confusing, our new landscape for dating allows for so much freedom.

There is no one “right” way to do things. Some people are more comfortable without the titles of boyfriend or girlfriend. Other people find comfort in the labels. It is okay to want something more casual, but that may mean challenging the negative connotations behind “casual relationships.”

This situation is quite common. You may feel pressure from your friends, your parents or even your favorite RomCom to define or not define, hangout more or hangout less, play coy or wear your heart on your sleeve. These pressures make it hard to ignore the yearning to be #RelationshipGoals and to focus on what feels right to you. However, one of the most important things to realize is that these other people are not in your relationship.

The hurried path of crushing, to hanging, to dating, to becoming official may seem like the only possible path. Sometimes it all can feel like a race to the finish line – the prize being the label of what you are. The thing about our changing dating scene, though, is that the finish line does not have to look the same for everyone. You don’t even have to run the same race. In fact, for you it may not even be a race at all.

What is most essential is that you slow down and spend the time to figure out what you want. Then, communicate it. Even if this means realizing that you don’t know what you want, being able to convey that you need more time to feel things out is imperative. You cannot expect the other person to read your mind or always have the same wishes for the relationship that you do. Your feelings are valid in the situation, as are theirs.

It is also important to consider that many of our conceptions about dating come from society and the relationships we observe growing up. It may be helpful to challenge these established ideas and consider that another way of dating may be true.

“Officially” Distressed, be okay with stepping out of your comfort zone as long as you maintain respect for yourself and from the other person. Never do something that makes you feel unsafe or insecure, but it is also okay to try new things.

There is no right recipe or how-to guide for building a relationship. Keep being honest, “Officially” Distressed, and trust your gut.

Sincerely,

Honeys on the Hill

mess-ae@stolaf.edu