Are labels important in a relationship?

Are labels important? We’re not talking designer, we’re talking relationships. Does it matter if you’re called ‘wifey’, ‘hubby’, ‘boyfriend’, ‘girlfriend’ or ‘bae?

Avoiding labels in a relationship can also mean shirking the responsibilities that come with it.

The question arose recently when a woman in her 30s was dating a man in his 40s but he refused to call himself her boyfriend though they have been together for six years. Yes, six long years! Not only did he not want to be called her boyfriend but he didn’t want to talk about their future, goals or any long-term plans. He said he’s fine with where they are and does not want to ruin what they have.

So what exactly do they have? After six years she does not know if she can put him down as her ‘in case of emergency’ contact. She is seemingly committed to him while he is committed to no one but himself. If anything, she needs to be committed to Ward 21 for failing to see numerous red flags.

By avoiding the label of partner or boyfriend, he has also successfully avoided the responsibilities of a relationship. If she cannot call him her beau or main man then nothing will prevent him from saying the exact same thing to another woman. It’s not that labels and titles prevent infidelity, but a man who acknowledges that he is at least in a relationship can then be held accountable for his actions.

A man, or woman, who does not give a label to their significant other may not see them as worthy of a union.

With no label, she’s a rudderless ship, just drifting along. He sees her when he wants sex, a laugh and a good time but refuses to see her as more than that; as worthy of a union.

This man will take her out and when everyone expects an introduction, will skilfully skirt it by deflecting or changing the subject. The most he will do is tell them her first name but will not add anything more, as he does not see the significance of it or her.

There is a saying, when someone shows you who they are, believe them. When it comes to relationships it is all about presentation. If after six years of sharing your body, brain and possibly bank account with someone who refuses to recognise you, maybe, just maybe, it’s time to let it go.