I'm Just Going to Say It: Titles Are Necessary For Growth in a Relationship

“We’re together but we’re not... boyfriend, girlfriend”.

I half-breathed the words and felt, as they were leaving my lips, that they were taking the oxygen from my lungs with them. My best friend lounged in the loveseat across from me, staring at the ceiling as if focusing on the stucco patterns would transport her elsewhere. She said nothing.

I told her about how he had introduced me to his friends. I noted that I didn't have the brimming sense of pride when he spoke my name. He spoke very... matter-of-factly. He gave my name, and that was all there was to it. I was never formally introduced to his family either. I knew his siblings from school, and that seemed to suffice for him. I recall sidestepping his mother on days I actually found myself over his house.

As I was relaying the details to my best friend, she just pursed her lips. I felt her questions pierce me even though she didn't speak immediately. She was wondering why I was investing so much energy into someone who would not commit. I know because I was starting to wonder, too. When I discovered that he was still in love with his ex, I stopped wondering. It was not that I wasn't enough, nor was he averse to titles: He was just emotionally unavailable.

There it is: One of two reasons why people choose not to use titles. And if the ex isn't a factor, the other is that your pseudo-partner doesn't legitimately desire commitment. Regardless of rationale, the end result is a dead-end relationship.

Titles don't make the relationship—but they do help to define the nature of it. In claiming a person, you lend a sense of purpose and direction to an otherwise nebulous situation (friends with benefits or partners?). If you want to see growth in a relationship, there is no question in my mind: Titles are necessary.