Warning: Labels May be Hazardous to Your… Relationship?

Upon talking to my friend the other day, something came to fruition that we uncovered about myself and apparently… I have a thing about labels.

Not the kind of labels on food products (although the nutritional facts on cinnamon buns make me want to re-up my gym membership) but labels pertaining to relationships. Now don’t ge me wrong, I’m not of those guys that try to run away from responsibility and say to a girl we’re “not a thing” & just “chillin” when in fact we have 9 kids with each other and I live with you but I still feel I can holler at shorty from the club because I haven’t “claimed” you yet. I’m fully aware of the rules and regulations that come with a label and I welcome it. With me, I don’t like to be in a state of confusion. I like to be on solid ground and know where I stand, especially when dealing in the realm of relationships.

Labels are clearly defined and set the roles within the parameters of said label. I’m your sidepiece? Fine, I won’t tell a soul. I’m your booty call? Got it, I’ll lock the door on the way out. I’m a one night stand? Sweet, it was nice meeting you, etc. Regardless of if you accept the label you’re given, you at least know what the duties are. My issue is that when I know I HAVE to be a label, or a label is tacked onto a situation I’m in, I get all out of whack and start hyperventilating. I feel stuck within the confines of the label with no wiggle room for freedom. I feel like I’m a program from the Matrix, like the Keymaker or Oracle, designed to do one thing, but pleading to be free to do whatever else.

Remember now, I don’t mind the responsibilities of a label, but being branded with the label is the thing that sends me in a tizzy.

I’ve been in scenarios where I chill a woman and I love the non-labelness of our relationship. We like just being together and spending time with each other. Doing pretty much everything a formal couple would do. But let’s say we want to take it to the next level and actually “be” boyfriend/girlfriend, I freeze. Not because I don’t want to endure the responsibility of what a relationship entails, but because the “label” of it messes with me in the head. I feel like I can’t act like how I have been and now I have to be “The Boyfriend”, and sure enough I’ll over compensate because of self-imposed pressure. I feel now that I have reached boyfriend status – I need to do what boyfriends do, like clockwork. Compliment her on her hair, get her a gift every 3rd Tuesday of the month, tell her how beautiful she is, watch 3 romantic movies per quarter of the year with her, etc.  Nothing feels organic anymore and it seems more manufactured.

Or, even worse, how about our expectations of what a boyfriend/girlfriend “should” be? Those principles would certainly clash.

You might want to treat her like a princess (caused that’s what you’ve been trained to think) but she’s more a “beer & pizza” chick. She might want her man to have balls and challenge her (because that’s what society has taught her) but you have a sensitive soul. The expectations of roles could kill something beautiful before it would even have a chance to blossom.

But with no label, I am free to act natural and do those same exact things and works more towards my favor because of no pressure from the BOYFRIEND label. We act organically and to the beat of the rhythm of the night (sans El Debarge.)

Labels are useful. It helps define what was unclear. No one likes being in a fog of courting not knowing what you are, so someone takes the stand and says “okay we’re friends” or “we’re lovers”. But it just sucks when that definition takes over your mind, and you unwilling follow it to a tee because you won’t let the label break you down. You want to be the best boyfriend the world has ever seen, but you were doing just fine without the moniker over your head. Now you’re freaking out all over the place. I find it very odd.

The closest thing I can relate it to is how couples like (formerly) Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins or Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell are in long term relationships. They’ve been together forever and they love each other and they are fine with their status. A lot of people just say “why won’t they just get married already?” but maybe they figured out that the weight that comes with being married is something they can do without. It might ruin their whole dynamic. I like the feeling I get when there is no label, but I also don’t mind doing the responsibilities that comes with a label. Once the label is alive and well, I buckle up and muck everything. Yes, I know I’m confusing and I don’t know where it stems from either.

Before I went out with my Ex-fiancé, I always wanted to be a boyfriend and through her I got to be one and more. Suitor, Boyfriend, Fiancé: All great labels to have. Unfortunately I didn’t get to husband but maybe someday. But you see? I’m not opposed to having a label, just the societal pressure put on me by owning that label. Regardless, I just find this predicament with me interesting. Maybe deep down I can’t handle the responsibility of those said labels and would rather float and coast by then buckle down and swim with the challenge of mastering them? Maybe my dis-engagement f’ed me up more then I realized and feel I’ll never be fit to get back to that status, so being just intimate with someone is just my speed? I dunno.

More investigation needs to happen. Don’t mind me… just thinking out loud.

What do you think?

  • Martini
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