The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper


4 min read

By KJ Adler

In one of my first articles I questioned the validity of sex within any relationship. A relationship can happen anywhere, at any time with anyone. It’s just up to you to decide if you want to go through with it.
And while most people I meet simply shrug when they talk about their latest sexcapades, eyes widen and heads shake furiously when the word “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” come up. When this happens, I hear a slew of interesting responses:
“Are you kidding?!?! HIM?”
“No one owns me, thank you.”
“Ha! Yeah right. It’s just sex.”
“Um no, why? Oh no, did she say that?”
So what is it that makes that bi-syllabic word so terrifying for so many young and restless people?
There is no end to answering this question. Some are just plain terrified of “commitment,” whatever that entails depending on the person.
Some people believe that boyfriend/girlfriend is a meaningless label that doesn’t need to be used to appease the public. Others want to be able to sexually explore whatever is out there. A significant other would simply complicate things.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are also people out there who just HAVE to have a significant other in their life. I have friends who believe that a proper “mourning” time for their old boyfriend/girlfriend should be about a week before they announce that they have found a new one to fill the void. This is what I like to call a relationship slut. For some reason being single is just not in the program and as soon as a new interest arrives, so does the new title.
I remember back in the day when holding hands and sitting next to each other in the cafeteria meant that two people were an “item.” But today, being boyfriend and girlfriend carries this heavy intangible burden that many people are just not willing to take.
I remember talking to friends a couple weeks ago about the significance of the word “boyfriend.” It was interesting to hear how the dating process went for her, not only with her current boyfriend but also with boyfriends past.
It starts with the two of you, you know, just hanging out.
Then there might be the occasional date during the hangout process, which may lead to sex depending on the type of people involved.
Then comes the continuation of hanging out but with people asking “So… are you guys a couple?” in which both people respond with an indifferent shrug.
If you held out earlier, this is the point where the down and dirty may occur.
Finally, the proclamation is made. And I don’t mean through your stupid Facebook stati. And thus the uncertainties of the previous months disintegrate into you changing history by stating that the two members involved were in fact “dating” at the time.
Confused? Yeah, me too.
So why do people put themselves through all of these ups and downs?
In the words of my friend; “So I don’t have to break up with them soon after… if it doesn’t work out.”
According to her, and a number of other people I spoke with, slow and steady really does win the race. Maybe there is interest, maybe there isn’t.
But putting yourself out there, making a big deal about having a boyfriend/girlfriend, and then breaking up a month later is just too much for some.
So it seems that people are apprehensive of commitment in one form or another. And the game of what definitions are applied to certain terms will keep on raging between the sexes: commitment, boyfriend/girlfriend, exclusive, open, love, taking a break. And many people use the confusion to their advantage. But I think the games are pointless and leave the hopeful crushed and the uninterested guilty, if they have a conscience.
I say the best way to get rid of the headache and potential heartache is to spell out your definitions when you grow an interest in someone. The only reason the titles hold such heavy burdens is because we, the young and restless, as participants, implement overly complicated interpretations in what everything could mean in the vocalized part of a relationship. As a group we need to calm down and stop thinking that a boyfriend or a girlfriend automatically means ball and chain.
Relationships can be great. But rather than force it with expectations in stupid labels, take in the actions instead.
After all, these ideas have been drilled in our brains since childhood: I am rubber, you are glue, sticks and stones, actions speak louder.
Until the label no longer controls you and your special someone, a first name basis is much easier than “My, um, friend who I am kind of seeing, no, wait, not a friend, like a forn buddy who I am always with, no, she’s, uh, like a sister… ew, no… um…”
Need I say more?

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