Are labels ‘girlfriend' or 'boyfriend' important in a relationship?

ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi
Mar 12, 2022 01:42 PM IST

Relationship experts explain whether giving a romantic relationship a name, title or labels like ‘girlfriend' or 'boyfriend' is important or not

It is no secret that the trick for a long-lasting union or alliance is to love without conditions since “only ifs” seeping into a relationship only make it materialistic and will eventually lead you and your partner to drift apart. Truth be told, perfect partners don’t exist hence, relationships should be all about ‘being’ the right partner.

Are labels ‘girlfriend' or 'boyfriend' important in a relationship? (Pixabay)
Are labels ‘girlfriend' or 'boyfriend' important in a relationship? (Pixabay)

Relationships thrive when both the partners take equal efforts to keep the relationship going because one sided relationships never survive and assimilating and integrating each others like and dislike well, brings about much wholesomeness, intimacy and healing in real, loving partnerships but are labels important. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Life Coach and author Veena Dhandhia, answers, “Giving a relationship a name, title or label and when, is a purely personal decision between the two people. Important decisions about desires, boundaries and expectations between the two can be done with or without a label.”

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Veena Dhandhia was of the opinion that labels are not necessarily symbols of relationship commitment though they do give a sense of clarity and official-ness and a rise to deeper discussions on living styles, fidelity, attached responsibilities and the likes. She said, "This could just be a signal that the relationship has elevated to a different level. Various levels and meanings can be induced from terms like "hanging out", "dating", "in a relationship", "casual relationship", "open relationship". People's expectations of relationships often differ under different titles. Uncertainty is attached to 'no label'."

Elaborating that the moment you are the 'girlfriend' or the 'boyfriend', mindsets change and higher expectations arise, Veena Dhandhia pointed out that here, any differences or discrepancies in thought processes need to be addressed. She shared, "In short, there is no right or wrong. If the couple is ready and willing to give a title to their relationship and it is important for them to do so, they will give a label. If they are not ready, it may not be important to them at their present level of understanding, willingness and commitment. Sooner or later, the importance of the label will come to the fore."

Asserting that every relationship is different, Life Coach Sheetal Shaparia, highlighted, "The exclusivity of a relationship may develop organically as the connection develops. However, for some people, the label is a source of protection. So, for those women who consider the label to be significant, I completely understand. In the eyes of a girl, the undefined can be a little perplexing. "Does he happen to be my boyfriend?" "Is he seeing other women?" "Are we simply friends with benefits?" The lines have blurred to the point where the guidelines for each other are unclear. "So...where is this going?" is a common response. Women seem to value the label more."

According to her, the label establishes status and indicates how far a relationship has progressed. However, there is a problem when certain people refuse to place a label on it and this is where the problem arises. It's difficult to comprehend the rules and limitations of a relationship without terminology. She opined, “In general, the label improves communication in the sense that words and actions can be relayed to you and your relationship as if you and your partner are on the same page. The label can provide transparency and accountability.”

Sheetal Shaparia added, "On the other hand, for some people labels are difficult because giving labels means greater responsibilities, pressure and expectations. People who want easy or free flowing relationships prefer not labelling their relationship. Their opinion is that even the tag of "marriage" can't stop someone from cheating. So, the bottomline is that it totally depends on the couple."

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