“We’re together, but we decided not to put a title on our relationship.” The words, barely audible, came from my best friend’s mouth as if she’d just sold her common sense in exchange for love and a warm body between her bed sheets. What’s a best friend like me to do when I face the same vulnerabilities of going through the motions of investing love, quality time, energy, and emotions, all without the very basic relationship fundamental: a relationship title. So I did what any best friend would do; I listened and remained nonjudgmental. I listened as she told me she met his child and his child’s mother and how she was emotionally growing closer to her man. I listened as she told me she was always introduced to his friends and family only by her first name. I listened as she tried to make logic out of being in an exclusive relationship without having the title of being in a relationship.
While I listened, I also heard her pain, her silent cry of wanting more. One would think it would be easy to define a relationship — simply communicate with your partner your needs and requirements. Sounds easy, until you’re in the situation, that is — a situation where you’re getting the quality time, bonding, attention, and consistency you want from a man. The saying goes “the heart wants what the heart wants.” In this case, it wants love, care, attention, affection, and companionship, but neglecting to put a title on a relationship does the heart a great injustice.
If love is a battlefield, then being in a relationship without a title is like being on the battlefield without armor. Defining a relationship is the very least one can do to avoid heartache. You can’t control how the relationship goes or grows, but putting a title on it solidifies you’re in a dual situation, where both individuals are held accountable to uphold the relationship. Title-less is no way to maintain a healthy relationship. It all boils down to whether or not you are claimed. There are those (male and female) who opt out of using titles because of underlying commitment issues, and then there are those who find not using a title takes pressure off the relationship, which, in other words, is sex with no strings attached. If you’ve lived long enough, you know sex without personal investment can be emotional suicide.
All too often black women in search of love find themselves in an undefined relationship. Could it be the nagging relationship statistics creating the theory that there are not enough black men to go around? Could it be being single for so long creates a bottomless void of loneliness? Could it be unresolved insecurities keeping my best friend held hostage by an undefined relationship? Regardless of the reasons, my best friend, like any woman in a relationship, deserves a title. Don’t be held hostage. Define your relationship, Clutchettes.
Have you ever opted out of having a relationship title? How did it turn out for you?
Krystal Glass is the creator and producer of “The Black Love Bond,” a series of events created to strengthen the bond in black relationships through open forum conversations and interactive workshops for singles and couples.