Labels: An Awkward Life Journey

By Gino DiGuilio

Ah, the relationship limbo. That beautiful and slightly awkward time at the beginning of a relationship when all you can think about is the other person, what you are feeling, what that person might be feeling and ultimately how do you label your relationship. If you are even a little bit like me, you are very antsy and anxious at this stage in a relationship.

You hop between the desire to define and label your relationship so that you may stop the other person from dating someone else, but are also taking the time to decipher what it is you like about that person and make a conscious effort to make a final choice. Most people use that time as a buffer zone in case of a sudden change of heart. Personally, I have been on both sides of the spectrum and both are extremely stressful and anxiety filled.

A lot of college students are caught in this relationship limbo where the two people are attempting to sort out their lives and put a label on the package. It used to be simple, “Are we just casually dating or are we a couple?” But in today’s culture, many people don’t like labels and some don’t like being tied down in a relationship. Thus, the necessary conception of the term “exclusive dating.”

Did you cringe? I did too… Taking a quick glance at many social media posts from my friends and other students throughout campus, I can see firsthand that a ton of you are embodied in this modern day dating term. It is a harsh place to be, and it is an extremely fragile state of relationship building. No, I am not a relationship guru, but these are just things I have noticed and hypothesized upon.

Exclusive dating is when two individuals like each other enough to focus on seeing where things go without dating other people. The label of being a couple hasn’t taken form yet, which helps mitigate the pressure of having to break it off if it goes south. But, the perk of not having to worry about him or her seeing someone else is encompassed in exclusive dating as well. In my life, I enjoy knowing I have first dibs on that person if they are free on the weekend or Friday night for a date or two. It is the unspoken rule.

So is being in an “exclusive” relationship a bad thing? I don’t believe so, just as long as it is not long term. Putting a definitive label on a relationship too early could be fatal and quite frankly destroy the desire to make you two a couple. Whereas putting a label on too late will not necessarily change much but will give you a proper amount of time to assess the situation at hand.

If you find yourself in this situation, don’t be frustrated. Most people will go through this or some modified form of it, whether they realize it or not. It is a natural phase to pass through in the world of modern dating. Take the time to smell the roses, learn about the other person and enjoy the time you have together. Don’t rush to put a label on something just because society seems to be forcing you.

There is no rush. Promise.