A few readers have written to me, asking “Is this a relationship?” Because it seems the definition is so fluid nobody knows what they’re doing. Or what they’re investing. Back when WOE wore lycra mini dresses (flat shoes of course) it seemed so much easier to work out what you and he were. You were dating or not dating. If you stopped dating you had broken up. If you continued dating you were in love. If you kept on going for a while after that you might end up sharing the costs of bread and milk. When you were dating you had sex. When you stopped dating you stopped having sex with that person. Often that happened because you had sex with another person. Before you started dating again you might have a one night stand. If you slept with someone else’s partner you were a slut while he was a cheat. It was all so simple and wonderful.
Fuckbuddies, Friends with Benefits (FWB) or booty calls and their associated acronyms had not yet been formalised. Remember this was well before it was mandatory to have multiple tattoos. The world was an innocent place where a relationship was a relationship and by definition not casual. There was no casual: there was an affair. Even a one-night stand wasn’t casual. It was a one-night stand and a respectable watermark in your formative years. Now that everyone seems to have a slew of flexible and often faux friends, it’s unclear as to what constitutes a relationship. Just for you, I looked on the interweb to see what the little people were saying in response to those who asked, “Is this a relationship?”
- Friends by day, sex partners by night. (Because the other way round is an affair).
- You can have sex when you feel like it without having to take her out and buy her dinner.(On one level it works. On another it’s so fucking nasty)
- You can have sex with a guy you trust even if you are not in a relationship. (This has so many loopholes I won’t begin to dissect).
- Like a real relationship with sex and conversation and everything but open to others.
- A physically involved relationship where both partners enjoy the comforts of a semi-serious relationship on the understanding they will always be friends. (Says he when she asks if they will always be friends)
- Two people who were having a serious relationship but decided it was too serious and decided to continue their relationship less ‘seriously’ but with sex. (Flatmates who got drunk and now have no idea how to get out of it).
- A relationship that isn’t just about sex but doesn’t include sleeping over. Or dinner. Or calls, unless it’s to arrange sex. (So that’s pretty much purely sex then unless there’s a complicated subtext we’re missing).
- A relationship where he offers benefits (like money) and she gives sex in return. (Thought that was called something else)
- Two people who would be together as a couple but they’re too busy so they just meet up and have sex (Until one of them becomes unemployed and the other one says “Hey, now we can have a real relationship except we can’t because you’re unemployed.”)
This is the stuff that is meant to be simpler than a ‘relationship’ yet comes with far more aliases than any relationship. FWB, FF, FB, NSF, Booty Call, MFF and the rest suggest that this little convenience is not quite as simple as picking up instant pot noodles from the local 7/11 store. There are strings, there are expectations and there are feelings. There is also the unwritten and unsaid rule that you are not allowed to acknowledge what it is or it is ruined. No judgements here: if you manage to make this work for an extended period of time (because anything else is just a fling I think but I’m not sure) then WOE tips her curly hair to you. If you feel that you’ve been led up the garden path to a poisoned rosebush, then join the queue but you won’t get your money back.