In this day and age with Tinder, a seemingly pathological fear of labels, and just the general “never allow yourself to settle” type of dating we have in 2015, it’s fairly safe to say that everyone has found themselves in an almost relationship. The almost relationship is a tricky one. You definitely aren’t just friends, wouldn’t totally call yourself single, but you also don’t have a significant other. The almost relationship is something that is completely overanalyzed with your friends while looking for hidden meanings in text messages, passed of as an, “I don’t know, we’re keeping it casual” when asked for the billionth time, “What are you guys doing?” And it’s not a new topic. But there are some things about almost relationships that don’t keep you up at night, anxiously staring at your phone. There are some things about them that are, frankly, kind of amazing.
1. You don’t owe anyone any explanation for your choices.
When you’re in a relationship that person is your partner, your other half, and you owe them to a certain extent. If presented with a life altering opportunity, whether it be at work or in your personal life, you really should sit down and discuss it with them if it will change the structure of their day-to-day as well. In an almost, you don’t have to. You can mention it if you want, or don’t if you don’t. And while that might seem unfair when put so bluntly, it’s the reality of not being serious with someone. You can do whatever you want; and that’s pretty liberating.
2. You are allowed to keep your expectations wherever you need.
High or low, fast or slow, stop or go. (Did I just quote Katy Perry lyrics?) But basically when you’re still testing the waters, you are allowed to want whatever, expect either everything or nothing. You have to be prepared for disappointment if things don’t meet expectations when you have them, but you are allowed to expect nothing if that’s where you’re at.
3. You don’t HAVE to invite them places.
Having a VMA party but they only listen to Fleetwood Mac on vinyl and will probably just bitch the whole time about “the state of music today”? Don’t invite them. Your best friend is in from out of town and you’re grabbing dinner and get a subtle, “would love to meet her” text? That is completely up to you and your bestie. You don’t have to invite them along to be a third wheel or your date if you don’t want to because the invitation wasn’t to you and your significant other, it was just to you.
4. (BUT) You still have a plus one when need be.
Still, it sucks going to a wedding alone. It’s nice that you can go out sans someone when you want, but still have someone to get drunk at the open bar and twist and shout with in the ballroom of some Hilton if that’s what strikes your fancy.
5. You can have still have sex with whoever you want.
Hey say what you want and do what you want (or who). But I’m of the belief that as long as everyone is in a safe and consenting environment, you can get down however you want to. Before the monogamy talk happens, you are free to do what you want and experiment how you want. Obviously you shouldn’t be risking your health or the health of anyone else, but an almost is just an almost, not a chastity belt.
6. You have time to figure out what you actually want, rather than focus on a “we.”
Even in this bizarre world of online dating, swiping left and right, and almost relationships there is this inane need to have a label, and not just on a, “Is this your boyfriend/girlfriend?” level. There’s this need to know where something is going, what the trajectory is. And sometimes, you just don’t have an answer. When you hang out in the almost it gives you time to decide what you want and need from that person rather than diving into a relationship that could ultimately end in hurt feelings because your wants do match up. You ultimately end up in a much better, more balanced place because you didn’t rush.
7. Your space is still your own.
There isn’t a random toothbrush next to yours; you don’t have to share the shower because you both have work in the morning. You don’t have to find a new place to store your summer tank tops because you’re clearing out a drawer for someone’s flannels and band tees. The bed is still all yours and no one is eating your food. It’s kind of, and by kind of I mean totally, great.
8. You’re allowed to not know what you want.
If you have been with someone for months and still answer the question, “Where do you see this going?” with an “I don’t know,” you’re being unfair. If you haven’t labeled something your indecisiveness is okay, it’s allowed. If you are comfortable in the almost, in the “I don’t know”, that’s perfectly fine.
9. You are not obligated to be anyone you don’t want to be.
There are different hats you have to be ready to put on when you become someone’s one and only. You have to smile at family functions where you might actually be wildly uncomfortable, you don’t have to make small talk about what college you went to at business parties where the open bar isn’t even taking any of the edge off. You can go if you want, or stay home if you want. You can have zero expectations for them and they for you.
10. Your booty calls don’t feel quite as dirty and as a one-night-stand.
Now, like I said, I personally think having whatever kind of sex YOU want to have is perfectly okay. But there is something so comforting about constantly having sex with someone you know as an option. You don’t have to go to a bar and play the back and forth game, hoping things don’t get sloppy or awkward. You can have a “movie night” or send the ever so subtle “U up?” text and get some D delivered right to your door.
11. Yes, you can be selfish.
The reality is the only person you really have to live with forever, is yourself. By allowing yourself to not be automatically tied to another person you get to know you. You can focus solely on yourself, your wants, your needs, and not apologize for it. And I think that’s kind of beautiful.