My good Bjork* recently e-mailed me about an interesting situation and I thought since this is a blog, I would put it out there and get audience participation going.
After a few nonstarter dating attempts with other dudes, Bjork met a very nice guy at work. He was funny and nice and smart and so they started to hang out. Recently, they’ve been spending a lot of time together and he even agreed to come to her big birthday party this weekend where he will be scrutinized by a bunch of her closest gal pals.
The way things have been going, it has all felt very boyfriend/girlfriend between them, but she’s not sure whether or not to pull out the titles just yet.
Unfortunately, although I would like to give her council on this situation, I am pretty much the worst person in the world to ask for advice when it comes to the word “boyfriend” as that word was the absolute bane of my dating existence.
(What follows is a semi-detailed account of my horrible dating life, so if you have a weak stomach or are adversely affected by emotional devastation, I suggest you stop reading now. But if you’d like to revel in the embarrassment and ridiculousness of my dating years, please continue!)
Back before I started dating Boy, I went out with a couple of guys. For the sake of this conversation, let’s call them The Mumbler and Captain Emo.
I met The Mumbler at a Christmas party and it was messed up from the start. If you’ve ever heard the song “Let Me Go” by Cake, that was how it went with us. Let me go and I will want you more. My verbalizing my disinterest was like an aphrodisiac to him. I say I’m not into him, he’s pushing me up against my front door to kiss me goodnight. I say I’m not sure us dating is such a good idea, we’re making out on some horribly apolstered basement couch. We do this herky-jerky flirting dance until finally, after like a year and a half of playing Hands & Hormones, I hit my breaking point and admit that I want him. I am very blunt and very basic with him and I say, no excuses, no games, no bull$h!t, I want him. As my boyfriend. And so, of course, he freaks out because he’s “not that guy” and when we “break up” for the final time, I am just bloody devastated. Lying in bed at 3 in the afternoon, crying in random clothing change rooms, devastated, because I cannot believe I was dumb enough to open myself up to a a game-playing jerk like that**.
Like six months later, I run into Captain Emo at a party. We’d known each other for a while, but this was like the first time we’d both been single at the same time so the dynamic was different. Anyway, he asks me for my contact info, and after half a year of feeling miserable, I say sure and give it to him. On our second date, he lays in all out on the table – He’s secretly been into me for two years and is thrilled that we’re finally both free to give this thing a shot. Bottom line: He wants to be my boyfriend. Naturally, because of the past associations with that word, I hesitate. Plus, I’m not sure how I feel about the guy. With The Mumbler, I knew, but this guy, I don’t know. But then, there he is, doing what I did six months before, saying all the good things that you should say to someone you like. So I say yes, but under the proviso we take it slow. So we do, and I start to feel better about the decision because it’s smart and logical and good. And then, three days after I finally cave and hook up with him for the first time, he cheats on me and sleeps with another girl. So much for the word boyfriend. Ugh.
So while things did eventually work out for me (in the happiest most awesome way ever:)), I know not of the word boyfriend and need advice from sane and/or functional relationship people on this topic before I give Bjork proper council.
When do you call someone your boyfriend/girlfriend? Is it a big deal or just another random label? Discuss.
*I am not actually friends with Bjork, this is just an easy pseudoname to remember.
** I am not saying that I didn’t play games too, but I at least thought that when one of us cried uncle, it would stop and we could have a normal relationship.