Because relationships don’t have to be either “just f*****g” or a committed relationship, and there's refuge (and love) to be found in the gray areas
Written by Mickie Woods
I’m indifferent towards our generation’s standard idea of casual dating. Any type of relationship involving active and encouraged suppression of one’s emotions seems like a danger zone. However, marriage sounds even scarier to me. A contract fusing together two ever-evolving beings that terminates only at death has my inner child kicking and screaming.
Since my only options for refuge seem to be to hope for love at first f*** or cross my fingers indefinitely in a committed relationship, I’ve begun searching for alternatives to find happiness in my connections with others. I ask myself: What would dating without expectations really look like? Does dating have to involve a goal? Is it possible to embrace the “gray areas”?
More often than not, the gray areas are the ones we dislike. They involve confusion around what the relationship is, fear of hurting the other person, and/or restlessness to hurry and find a safe zone. And as much as we try to avoid having expectations, expectations (keeping in mind that expectations go both ways — more pressure on a relationship or less pressure) will always present themselves. For example, we’ve all dated the person who refuses to DTR (define the relationship). They’ll bob and weave. They'll beat around the bush. They'll tell you everything but the words you actually want to hear. In this situation, you’re looking to set relationship expectations while they are content with f***buddy expectations.
Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe you’re the one ducking and dodging. Maybe you’re the one uncomfortable with expressing how you truly feel and what you truly want. Either way, we all have our reasons to place parameters on relationships and, more than likely, if they’re not restricting you, then they’re restricting the other person. Putting relationships in boxes just doesn’t seem to help anyone involved.
The majority of my past relationships failed from the expectations to be in those boxes. Call me a dreamer, but a relationship where both parties have the freedom to grow, love, and change their minds sounds way more ideal to me. It seems like we should be honoring our partner’s feelings at any given moment, not avoiding them. We should care if the other person wants more or less from the relationship. After all, the world doesn’t need anymore people who don’t give a f***.
We now all know that humans aren’t just gay, bisexual or straight. Understanding that gender, sexuality, and even all things concerning mental health operate on spectrums has become common knowledge. But what about relationships? Is it possible that our relationship status doesn’t just have to be single, dating, or in a relationship? And when we meet humans we adore, can we find refuge in something other than exclusive or not exclusive? Casual or serious? Chillin’ or cuffed? When can we start removing the binaries of relating to one another?
I imagine that whenever we do this, we leave more room for communication and therefore more room for pleasure. We listen more than we judge and therefore become more understanding instead of resentful. Ultimately, we eliminate fear and therefore free up more space for love.
How much easier would life be if we embraced the process? Throughout human existence, humans have repeatedly and unsuccessfully theorized Earth’s beginning and end. Despite none of us agreeing on why we are here and when this all will end, we all agree that, while we are here, we should strive to make the most of the cards we’re dealt. We choose to adapt to changes in our environment as they come. We try our best to prepare and equip ourselves for the future but we know that if we focus too much on the outcome, we miss out on enjoying the process. Similarly, if we focus too much on the outcome of our relationships, we miss out on cherishing the present. As much as we like to believe that we live every day like it’s our last, we typically don’t. We take things day-by-day and hold onto the precious moments.
By all means, if you feel someone is stringing you along or manipulating you, leave and take time for yourself or spend time with those who truly value you. But consider embracing where your relationship is currently at. And when the relationship inevitably ends, you don’t have to dwell on the “could haves”. You can leave with the moments, leave with the smiles, remember it as a necessary piece of your life puzzle, and welcome your new self with open arms.