So I’ve just become this thing called adult not too long ago and I’ve started dating this girl. Do I still ask her to be my girlfriend or is that sorta assumed at some point?
Welcome to adulthood! It’s overrated! Here’s some complimentary cynicism, and a bit of pessimism disguised as pragmatism. In all seriousness though, let’s just assume that you’re in your early 20s, fresh out of either college, or your parents basement which they’ll now turn into their own Red Room of Pain and take it from here. Don’t worry kid, it’s okay that you don’t know how to do this stuff yet. I’m 31 years old and still figuring it out as I go.
Do you need to ask someone you’re dating whether or not you’re in a committed, monogamous relationship? I know it sounds like the answer should be, unequivocally a Yes, but I’m not so sure. Emphasis on “need to ask”, not “should you ask” when I say I’m not sure by the way. Let me be honest here and just say that there have been a few times, not recently, where I was dating someone and they said “What are we?” and I responded “I thought that we’re boyfriend and girlfriend” so don’t think I’m somehow above working off assumptions. Was it wrong to assume that I was in a committed relationship when I didn’t establish that verbally? Not wrong per se, but not the smartest move. Primarily because my partner at the time didn’t realize we were in a relationship and probably felt a bit of doubt. Beyond that, it’s not smart to just assume that because you’re sleeping with someone, even if they aren’t sleeping with anyone else, that automatically means you’re in a relationship. I can count my total number of committed, monogamous relationships I’ve had in my entire life on one hand. Casual dating where we’re not sleeping with anyone else but still keeping our options open? Yeah, I’m gonna need a few hands for that.
It’s always better to just ask someone what you are, or to tell them explicitly what you want. As much as we might think we’re on the same page as our romantic partners, often times we are not. I know that it’s not the most romantic thing to say “Are we in a committed, monogamous relationship?” but it can do a hell of a lot toward making people feel more comfortable about their relationship status. You might notice I said “committed, monogamous relationship” and that’s because calling someone your “girlfriend” is a nice title and all, but you can have a girlfriend and still be in an open-relationship. Again, I know it sounds like the least romantic thing, but I would suggest asking for clarification on what sort of relationship she expects you to have, and also clarify what her stance is on titles. Maybe she wants all the trappings of what we think of when we think of the word “girlfriend” without ever actually using the term. You’d be surprised how many women have just as many commitment and title issues as their straight male counterparts. Maybe she wants an open relationship with you as the primary partner, but really likes to be called your girlfriend, which isn’t far-fetched or anything. Or maybe it’s a third mystery option! Who knows! All I know is that it’s better to just ask then to assume, but you’re not a bad person for working off of an assumption. It’s not a smart move, but not a bad move either.
Good Luck Out There.