The Dos and Don’ts of: Blurred Lines

DosandDontsofBlurredLinesBy Karina Manlove

So, you’re seeing someone new. How long before one of you asks the other to be exclusive? Is it one person’s  responsibility over the other’s?

I’ve never asked a guy out. I don’t think that’s strange, but it’s definitely not common. It seems many women wait for men to ask that question. I’m not referring to the question of “do you want to go out sometime” but the question of making the relationship official. It’s true, I’ve never said “will you be my boyfriend?”

It’s not the sexiest thing one can ask, and let’s be honest, “boyfriend” is a term that doesn’t really apply to men. It seems very juvenile, almost diminutive, to call a man my boyfriend. We’re not in eighth grade anymore and we’ve all gone through puberty. I thought “manfriend” would be more appropriate, but it sounds like a term used on that Showtime reality show “Gigolos” (which I’ve watched in awe and disbelief).

“So me and my manfriend have been together for four months now” just sounds like I’ve been paying for intimacy, and “manfriend” sounds like the name “Manfred.” Maybe my reluctance to use the word boyfriend and lack of a synonym has made me less likely to ask a guy to be with me, but I digress. (If anyone knows of a term better than “significant other,” please let a girl know).

So who should ask the question first?

Whomever first realizes that a future with the other person is possible, I’d say. In my experience, that usually isn’t me, but maybe I’m old fashioned to some degree. I prefer to open doors and pull out chairs myself, hate being called “ma’am,” and feel like I should be knighting somebody when I say “sir.”

There is no directive that says it has to be men and that women should wait for guys to initiate. My roommate is a great example. She has a commanding personality and would definitely ask someone to be her whatever, whether it’s friends with benefits or a boyfriend or something else. She also dressed up as Rick James one Halloween and apparently  convinced her boyfriend at the time to be intimate with her, leather pants and wig included.

As to when “making it official” should occur, there is no “right” time. Every relationship is different. I’ve used various points in relationships, from as early as two weeks to as late as three months. Sometimes one or both parties are just testing the waters, so to speak, discovering shared interests, introducing the person to friends and family (I’ve done that just to see if others thought the guy was weird or a little off, because the crazy ones are frequently the ones you don’t expect), etc.

The last relationship I had we made official a little too early. It’s difficult to gauge when going up a step is a good move, and I’m still a little lost. I don’t think enough of the “getting to know each other” bit happened, and so, eight months in I was wondering where the relationship was headed and I didn’t feel like we really meshed well at all. We wanted different things. Maybe it was loneliness on both of our parts, perhaps it was just a mutual attraction that fizzled, but it’s over now, and I’m still puzzled by it. I think two weeks is sometimes enough time and maybe not quite enough. It depends. At the time, I thought, sure, why shouldn’t I go out with him?

But looking back, I see that I didn’t really think about it. I didn’t assess what I wanted, and that wasn’t fair to him in the end. He wanted kids and a mortgage and I wanted suitcases and frequent flier miles. So if you ask a woman to be your girlfriend after two weeks and she hesitates, don’t be upset. She may just need a day or two (or less) to figure out what she wants so she doesn’t let you down. And maybe you will, too.

I’m seeing someone new now, and we are trying out the “no labels” thing, which means we are exclusive but I don’t call him my boyfriend. I think he says I’m his girlfriend, but I don’t mind that term so much. Don’t hurry to the top stair of Mr. and Mrs., and you’ll save yourself the grief and the money.