I know our relationship has been steadily escalating in intensity. I’ve clicked “like” on profile photos from 4 years ago, used heart emoticons in our gchats, randomly texted you at 4AM, and so on. I call you to “hang out”, just the two of us, late in the evening in my apartment, and there, sitting close together on the couch, lights off, an amount of skin contact not quite exceeding platonic levels, we watch the sex scenes in Game of Thrones with anxious, strained expressions. After drunkenly making out a couple times, I figured I’d lay this situation out in a clear, no-nonsense way so as to avoid confusion:
I think we should keep things ambiguous. Let’s not define our “relationship” or even address it as such. After all, it’s the 21st century, and labels like boyfriend/girlfriend are so outdated. We’re just two people having fun, and that’s all the information you need.
Such fun! It’ll be so much fun, wandering through a fog of social opacity, never knowing whether a particular behavior is appropriate or makes you seem clingy/creepy. Such an intriguing mystery. You might say, “Hey, can I come over? I had a really bad day today,” and I could say, “Sorry, I’m busy right now,” and I wouldn’t be a bad person because I’m not your boyfriend. If you walked in on me kissing your roommate, you couldn’t be furious because if you really think about it, we’re all just little spiders spinning vast webs of human connection, and you are one and your roommate’s another one, and it’s all fine, all hunky dory. You see now how this arrangement functions to alleviate rather than amplify anxiety?
If I had to guess, I’d say your problem is an obsessive need for clarity, for full disclosure regarding the precise nature of our relationship. But there’s a reason people love Under the Dome: mysteries are seductive, even terrible mysteries like Under the Dome. Babe, I’m exactly like Under the Dome. So why would you want me to divulge what it means when I ask you to dinner at a fancy restaurant but then unexpectedly bring a second male friend? The answers are only going to ruin it. Simply resign yourself to the joys of perplexity.
In fact, I don’t think we should ever articulate what we are to each other. Labels come with expectations and expectations—as with birthdays and lottery tickets—often lead to disappointment. For example, right now, since I am ostensibly just a friend, if I didn’t call you for a month or so, you would be confused, sure, but you couldn’t be angry with me. If we were “dating”, though, you could call me and say, “Really? You’re gonna pull the slow-fade?” and declare me a “jerk”, “sleazebag”, “coward”, etc., which would all be accurate under the “dating” categorization. See how labels just spawn even more terrible labels? It’s so unnecessary.
But I’ll go even further still; I don’t think people should ever be “married” or in a “committed relationship”. Instead, they should just be a couple people living in a house together where maybe they raise children. If I unexpectedly disappeared one morning, leaving only a note saying, ‘Moved to Florida,’ you would, under these circumstances, have to say, “Well, I’ll miss this human, but I guess he had to go to Florida. It’s a good thing we never defined our relationship because I would feel really bummed right now. Thank goodness we are just unrelated atoms rattling around in a cold unfeeling void.” If we were “married”, on the other hand, there would be divorce proceedings, custody battles, and all manner of forms to fill out.
What I enjoy most about this setup is that when I become even remotely inebriated and get all smoochy with your face, you’ll interpret this as a confirmation that our relationship is “romantic” in nature. What a relief this will be—solid ground at last! And yet I can turn around the next day and say, “Why do you have to be all up in the business! We just made out!” and you will then seem rather pitiful, won’t you, Swimfan? You will seem so confused! Maybe I’ll apologize for misleading you, but then invite you over so I can cook you pad thai. Why would I do that? Why would I repeat this experience: kiss your face, then reject you; text you all night, then not text back for a week—sending conflicting signals over and over, maximizing cognitive dissonance, driving you into a full-on Carrie Mathison-level breakdown? Why?
Well, I am a crazy person. I have a clinically diagnosed personality disorder that causes me to treat personal relationships in the way you might treat pedestrians in GTA 5. Unlike most people who find nourishment in, say, a sandwich, I feed on human misery, the spirit blood spilled into the ether during psychological torment. I suckle at your tear ducts. I eat your sadness. It swells my ego, and makes me feel powerful. So anyway, now that we’re on the same page, when are you free to go see Gravity?