Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

When is a relationship a relationship?

17 August 2018


I borrowed my title from a 2018 Telegraph article as it’s better than my original blog title: what constitutes a relationship? Today, my girlfriend made a casual remark to me about a conversation in which she acknowledged to someone that she is not in a relationship (with me). I was – and still am – not upset. I just wondered: When is a relationship a relationship??

My girlfriend and I are together for nearly 4 months, apart from about 4 weeks when she went back to her own place. After 1 or 2 weeks, we had jointly concluded that it was over. I even briefly dated another woman which didn’t work out as something was clearly missing. After 4 weeks, we decided to restart what we had/have as we were missing each other.

Telegraph: “In 2015, The New York Times published an article called “The End of Courtship?” explaining how proper dating has been replaced with casual hook ups and ill-defined relationships. Online dating, and our ability to be in constant contact with everyone we know via text, email or social media make us unwilling to commit to one person, and more likely to want to hedge our bets.” Also see my 2018 blog: From dating to swiping to nowhere?

I’m now wondering if my girlfriend and I are having such an “ill-defined relationship“. She and I know that we are both not very good in relationships. We both need and want our solitude (my blogs). She’s rather extrovert and is having lots of acquaintances with whom she regularly communicates through social media. I am the opposite.

My lack of emotion about her statement might be because I (subconsciously) share her opinion, which I did not realise until today. Defining what we do have isn’t easy. Hence, the “ill-defined relationship“. For most of the time, we have been together in a “brother-sister” relationship as she was being treated for cancer and I was the supportive boyfriend.

Now that she is recovering, our perceptions might be diverging. I may still see her as a (former) patient, while she is eager to be her “former self” again. Without her illness, we would – most likely – never have met. In some 6-8 weeks, she is expected to resume her busy work again. That will be a major test for the both of us. 

In general, I’m (much) more interested in the content rather than the packaging. In auditing, we call this substance over form. The label for what she and I have together (ie, dating, friendship, friendship with benefits, relationship) has not been an issue for me – and still is no issue for me. This also explains my lack of emotion about her statement. I know very well what we do have.

Once, I bought my then-girlfriend a nice ring in Cinque Terre. She lost it twice and was lucky to get it back. These incidents hurt me as it appeared that my ring had a different meaning for her than for me. Ever since, I have lost my belief that a ring constitutes a relationship.

Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) (2008) by Beyoncé – artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise


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