By Natasha Burton, Julie Fishman and Meagan McCrary
So, you’re kinda sorta seeing this guy, the two of you are “hooking up” (whatever that means), but you’ve never been more confused about where you stand . . . or lay.
We’ve learned this lesson the hard way: Just because you’re sleeping with a guy, going out to dinner, receiving flowers from him on your birthday, and spending the night at his place every weekend, you’re not necessarily his girlfriend unless you’ve had “the talk.”
Most men will try to avoid Defining The Relationship (which our guy friends refer to in shorthand as “DTR”) as long as possible. If they never have that talk, they theoretically don’t have to walk the walk. Until your relationship is defined, the guy in question has the green light to roll up on chicks and hit on them, by technicality alone.
Men get away with this behavior, too — because we let them. Either we buy into the idea that the dude should always be the one to take the lead and initiate some kind of “what are we?” discussion or we’re too chicken to ask. It’s totally normal to fear rejection — sometimes not knowing is a lot more bearable than hearing “no.” And, sure, by not bringing it up, you’ll be able to stay in your whatever-this-is state longer. But, as any gal who’s been in relationship purgatory can attest, the confusion can cause more anxiety than a missed period.
If discussing your status with your spit-swapping stallion sounds more daunting than filing your taxes, here are some ways he’ll show you that you’re not his girlfriend.
The two of you enjoy each other’s company as well as your independence, so it doesn’t seem like a big deal when your guy goes on a snowboarding trip with his buddies and doesn’t invite you. But when he’s tagging along on a couples weekend getaway and doesn’t mention anything about you joining, you might start to wonder whether his pals even know you exist.
Dudes in committed relationships want to bring their lady loves to functions with their family and friends, not only to announce they’ve found someone special but also to share significant holidays, birthdays, and vacations with the woman in their life. In fact, most adults expect a guy to bring his significant other to important get-togethers. If you’re not his routine “plus one,” it’s a definite indication that you’re not his girlfriend.
While this realization may sting, it provides the perfect opportunity to have a little DTR powwow. Tell him you want to be his social steady, not his girl on the side. A man who won’t make you his plus one should be subtracted from your love life.
He treats you like a friend, not a flame.
Men are able to distinguish having sex from having a relationship, two things women usually put hand-in-hand. So, though you may be doing the deed with a certain fella, he may think you’re just a pal who wears panties rather than a potential girlfriend. When you try to act like a “guy’s girl” you run the risk of being treated like “one of the guys.”
A bloke who offers sweet nothings in the bedroom but only fist bumps when outside it doesn’t see you as a girlfriend, but a girl who’s willing to sleep with him. Men haven’t evolved that far from animals — if you’re his girlfriend, he’ll want to mark his territory. While he may be against full-blown PDA, there are less overt ways he can show affection, like squeezing your hand for a brief moment, rubbing your back, or moving his chair a little closer to yours.
Standoffish behavior indicates that he doesn’t want people to think the two of you are an item, and doesn’t want you to think you’re anything more than a fuck buddy. Though his nonchalance may just irk you in the beginning, it’ll slowly sap your spirit, especially if you’ve spent serious time between his sheets.
He’s only available when it’s convenient for him.
When you’re the only one initiating rendezvous between you and your man, think about whether he wants to spend time with you because he likes you or because it’s convenient and he has nothing else to do. If your guy blows you off or frequently “forgets” your plans to hang out, he may consider you a backup plan rather than a first choice. Likewise, a guy who won’t commit to dinner until twenty minutes before he’s supposed to pick you up is clearly waiting to make sure he’s not going to miss out on whatever his buddies are doing.
In addition to making you feel trivial, this guy is undependable — he’ll be around on sunny days but as soon as the clouds roll in, he’ll run for cover, leaving you out to drown in the downpour. If he suddenly reappears the second the storm passes, you can assume he is a man of convenience, not commitment. A relationship isn’t about being there when it’s opportune, but more so when it’s not. Any dude will show up for the party; a good dude will stay after to help you clean up.
He tells you he doesn’t want a girlfriend.
When pressed to answer questions about the status of their relationship, many men respond with an “I told myself I” statement, like “I told myself I was going to be more selfish/would focus on my music/would put my career first/wouldn’t have a girlfriend in grad school.” All this information is useful on date three, but not something you should learn on date thirty-three.
Then there are men who announce that they’re not — repeat not — interested in having a girlfriend, but we’re too buzzed and busy flirting at the time to even register this flag on our radar. Or maybe we completely hear what the guy’s saying but are convinced we’ll be the one to change his mind — hey, at least we’ve got confidence!
Once a guy has openly declared his commitment to remaining single, it doesn’t matter if you keep tampons at his house or spend every Saturday night cuddling and watching I Love Lucy reruns. He may act like a boyfriend and talk like a boyfriend, but unless he tells you he’s changed his mind about being coupled, don’t convince yourself that you’re his girlfriend.
These upfront fellas won’t hesitate to pull the “I-told-you-I- didn’t-want-a-girlfriend” card the moment you have a complaint about anything relationship-related. Our unanimous advice on this one: Don’t date a dude who point blank tells you he’s not looking for a relationship.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
You may think you’re in love with your charming chap simply because you get those giddy butterflies in your belly every time he comes around. But those flutters could be the work of anxious moths signaling that you’re uneasy over not knowing how the guy really feels about you.
If you and your man aren’t on the same page, recognize that despite any connection you think you have, the two of you won’t work if he wants a hookup and you want a boyfriend: You’ll merely end up feeling mistreated and unappreciated. Relationships are just as much about shared expectations and timing as they are about shared passion.
There’s nothing worse than wondering whether or not you are — or are going to be — someone’s girlfriend. In addition to confusion, an undefined relationship will remain static. You’re just wasting your time sitting in limbo when you could ditch the noncommittal dude for a guy who’d be happy to call you his one-and-only.
And not to get all Carrie Bradshaw on you here, but we can’t help but ask: When did it becomes less awkward to writhe naked on top of a guy than to ask him how he feels about you? If you’re willing to go that far, you should be willing to ask him if he’s your boyfriend.
From The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags: Relationship Warning Signs You Totally Spotted … But Chose to Ignore
Buy the book on Amazon
Natasha Burton, co-author of The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags: Relationship Warning Signs You Totally Spotted . . . But Chose to Ignore, is the Relationships Editor of Glo, a women’s website partnered with MSN.com. Her work has appeared in People, Glamour, WomansDay.com, FHMOnline, and Outblush.com. When she’s not grilling her friends about the most intimate details of their love lives, she’s most likely in the kitchen whipping up some Italian food.
Julie Fishman, co-author of The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags: Relationship Warning Signs You Totally Spotted . . . But Chose to Ignore, is a humor writer who works in screen, print, and web. She currently teaches at a college in Hollywood, pens a weekly cocktail column for Glo called “Hump Day Happy Hour,” and dreams up irreverent sitcom ideas. Aside from writing, she’s either hanging with her pooch and drinking wine, or talking about hanging with her pooch and drinking wine.
Meagan McCrary, co-author of The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags: Relationship Warning Signs You Totally Spotted . . . But Chose to Ignore, is an L.A.-based yoga teacher with an adventurous spirit for romance who has written about health and wellness for a variety of local lifestyles magazines. While she spends most of her days teaching Anusara yoga and giving private lessons to her various clients, she finds time to work on “being present” (and her tan) at the beach under the California sun.
Natasha, Julie, and Meagan are all Santa Monica — dwelling Pisceans who met while earning their Master’s of Professional Writing degrees at the University of Southern California.
For more information please visit their website and follow the authors on Facebook and Twitter
Purchase the book on Amazon