For the past few years, I, just like most girls out there, have been thinking about the labels we put on our relationships and the guys we date (see Why do we need labels?). As much as I believe that labels are not needed to make us happy, I couldn’t bypass the opportunity of writing about this new type of label I came across last night. I mentioned my friend Javier in past posts, but this time I want to dedicate a whole article on his experiences and the new type of label he came up with, about dating. Javier was married for almost seven years, but the past few months he’s been single. It is not my purpose to talk about this break up, but about his current dating life. As a newly-single man, Javier has jumped right back into the dating game and it wasn’t long before he met Bill. I personally have never met Bill, and I’m not interested to. But what interests me and what I find intriguing is Javier’s use of the term ‘non-boyfriend’ Bill.
Javier and Bill met through common acquaintances one night, at a dinner. To make a long story short, they went out a couple of times and then spent a few nights together after that. When Javier talked to me about Bill for the first time, I didn’t think it was anything serious; it was just another fling. But it wasn’t long before the fling progressed. Before I knew it, Javier would call me up and say how great a movie was that he watched with Bill and what a great restaurant he had just dinner at with Bill. It didn’t take long for me to realise that Bill is probably not just a fling that would end in a few days. And then one day, somewhere between cooking and enjoying a good bottle of red, Javier turned to me and said “Bill is taking me to Italy for a weekend in April”. Needless to say, by the time Javier and I discussed his decision to take up Bill on his offer for a getaway weekend together, the dinner was burnt. Javier’s point of view on this is that this is nothing more than just a weekend of good company and good sex. I recall him telling me “Even though Bill wants a boyfriend, and I’m in no place to start another relationship right now, he acknowledges this. The other day he told me ‘You are no boyfriend material’, so we are on the same page”. I wasn’t sure I understood exactly what page that was, and even though we spent half the night discussing this, by the next day I wasn’t any closer to understanding what type of relationship Javier and Bill had.
However, while out for drinks two nights ago, Javier mentioned Bill once more and that’s where I had to ask him. When I asked what the deal was between the two of them, Javier responded by saying “He’s my non-boyfriend”. I guess the dazzled look on my face gave my confusion away, because he continued by adding: “I have feelings for him and he has feelings for me too. But we are not in a relationship. He is my boyfriend when we are together, and I am his, but when we are on our own, we are single. We go out together, have dinner, watch movies, cook, and go for drinks, but they are non-dates”. By the time he explained this to me, things were a lot clearer in my mind about the situation between them; but I wasn’t any closer to understanding how this works. I went home drunk that night, but I woke up the next morning even more confused; and this new term has been on my mind ever since.
I get why they are not in a relationship together, and why Javier is nowhere near ready to start anything serious with anyone right now. But dating someone, and labelling them something non-existent – until now – in the dating vocabulary got me thinking whether this is a way of masking he feelings that they had developed for each other, or whether this was indeed a label that worked for both of them, a label that described exactly how they felt about each other and their situation in life. Is labelling someone ‘non-boyfriend’, and a dating situation ‘non-dating’, a new label for ‘it’s complicated’ or is this really a new form of dating? And if this is really another form of dating, how long would it be before a ‘non-boyfriend’ is not enough and the intensity of the feelings make one of them want to call each other ‘boyfriend’… if ever?
A few hours later I couldn’t help but wonder about my own dating life and all the times I found myself in that situation. Wasn’t it the same every time I saw Mat, or any other guy I ever had feelings for? We couldn’t be together for one reason or the other, but at the end of the day, weren’t we ‘together’, only when we were together? There were feelings involved, but that didn’t stop us from dating other people when we went our own ways … until the next time we met up! You can stop yourself from getting in a relationship with someone, but how can you stop yourself from feeling? And how long will it take before you can’t stand the thought of your ‘non-boyfriend’, somewhere in this city, dating someone else as a single man, just because you are not around? By midnight this was driving me crazy, so I decided to call Javier and let him know that this is a dangerous game. I knew it wouldn’t stop him, but I have been there, just like many of you, even though no one called it a ‘non-boyfriend’ before. I had to tell him that, out of experience, this may not end well, and someone will end up getting hurt… and there will be nothing ‘non’ about that! So this is what I think, and what I told him: play your games all you want, date and have fun, and call it whatever you want, but just because you change the name of the game, don’t fool yourself – you can’t change the outcome. There’s nothing wrong about getting feelings for someone, but be prepared this might not turn out the way you think it will, just because you decided it’s a ‘non’ situation. So I guess I can’t change Javier’s mind, just like my friends could never change mine, but at the end of the day, label or no label, ‘non’ or not, the game is the same, you play it, sometimes you lose and sometimes you don’t, but it has nothing to do with the name!
What do you think? Did you ever have a ‘non-boyfriend’ or did you ever come up with another label about a dating situation you have been it? Comment and let me know.