If You Like it Then You Should Put a Label on it

“So are you guys like, a thing?” That’s the question that my best friend asked me as we sat in a booth eating greasy French fries and instantly regretting not going to the gym that week. I had just finished telling her about the amazing guy with whom I was friends and the blissfully perfect kiss we had shared. I pondered the question as I dipped another fry into the puddle of Ketchup plopped in the middle of the takeout box. “Ummm… I guess so? I really like him and he said he likes me, but we haven’t gone on an actual date yet.” As I said the words I quickly wished they were not true. I am a firm believer in the old-fashioned dating game. I want to go out on dates and talk and laugh and get to know each other. I love the thought of waiting for that first kiss; the anticipation of the first date; the butterflies, the making sure you look okay, and the overanalyzing every little detail with your best friends in the morning. I just don’t think this is how relationships begin these days.

This guy is great. He’s amazing. He’s smart, hilarious, and so extremely caring. He is considerate and gentlemanly. We can sit for hours and talk and never get bored or we can sit in silence and do our homework and it’s so natural and somehow still fun. One night, my blood sugars were kinda crazy and he not only walked me back to my dorm to make sure I was okay, but insisted on staying until my blood sugar was at a stable level and I was positive I would be able to fall asleep and wake up in the morning. He did all this without a single thought, despite the fact that he had an early class and a paper to edit in the morning. He’s the kind of guy you are proud to know and proud to be friends with. I am so incredibly blessed that he chose me to grow close to and form a relationship with.

I can’t call him my boyfriend though cause we technically aren’t dating. When I want to describe his role in my life to others, it becomes a confusing array of jumbled words. He’s my friend first and foremost. He’s someone I trust. He’s the guy I love to just lay and cuddle and watch a movie. But he’s not my boyfriend. He’s not my friend with benefits either. He’s my potential I guess.

Why, in this age of extreme connections and casual relationships, is it so hard to define what someone is to you? Why are people so seemingly against labeling relationships? When someone means a lot to me, I want to celebrate that. I want to express how important they are to me. I am not the kind of person who wants everyone to know my business. Actually, I am a pretty private person when it comes to my personal life. However, I feel that labeling the role someone plays in your life is just as, if not more, meaningful and important to them as it may be to the way people view your relationship. Labeling the relationship is a way of saying “hey, I like you and you are a really important part of my life and this is the title I think of when I think of you.”

I don’t have a label on this “thing” I have with this amazing guy. We haven’t made anything “Facebook official” (I’m not a fan of that. It just makes things awkward when/if you don’t work out). We don’t know what to call each other except for really important to the other. But I know he cares a lot about me. I know he likes me (at least a little) and I know how I feel about him. So, while a label on this “thing” would be nice, I’m okay for now. 

Listen to Your Heart: Lessons from My Best Friend’s Wedding

Too often people do not say what they are really thinking. We’re all guilty of it. We believe that it is better to leave things left unsaid than it is to force ourselves to step out onto the line and speak from the heart. I personally know that I do that. Once, I let a guy know how I felt and was crushed when, the next day, he admitted he did not feel the same way. I avoided him for about 3 weeks after that, purposefully not going where I knew he would be and changing my plans if I found out there was a possibility our paths would intersect. It’s not that I hated the guy; he hadn’t led me on or dumped me. We didn’t have a dramatic breakup. Rather, I was embarrassed. I hated the fact that he knew what I was truly feeling and did not feel the same way. I felt vulnerable and weak compared to him. My best friend, however, pointed out that, while I may be feeling that way at the time, I shouldn’t have to. She commended me for having the guts to show him how I was feeling, stating that she wouldn’t have been able to do that.
This got me thinking. Why are people so afraid of feelings? Why would we rather live with so many unexpressed emotions pent up in our hearts? What is so bad about sharing our feelings? My favorite movie of all-time is the 1997 hit My Best Friend’s Wedding. Starring the gorgeous Julia Roberts, the dashing Dermot Mulroney, and a fresh-faced Cameron Diaz, the movie does a fantastic job of showing the real-life dilemma between sharing your true feelings, especially when romance is involved. Jules (Julia Roberts) and Michael (Mulroney) have been best friends for a decade, after a failed attempt at dating. Michael calls Jules out of the blue one day to tell her he’s getting married, and asks her to fly to Chicago to be in the wedding. It is here that Jules realizes that she has been madly in love with Michael. She goes to Chicago with every intention of breaking Michael and his college-aged bride, Kimmy (Diaz) up.
There is a scene in the movie when Jules and Michael finally get to spend some alone time together before the big day. Riding along the Chicago River in a boat, Michael explains to Jules how he feels about their friendship. Here is the clip.
A slew of instances occur over the three day weekend, all culminating on the morning of the wedding. This is the most important part. SPOILER ALERT. After causing Michael to lose his job and get into a huge fight with Kimmy, Jules decides to come clean. She confesses her love for Michael in Kimmy’s backyard, on the morning of their wedding, and then kisses him, as Kimmy approaches.
The scene that follows is the epitome of the movie. After chasing Kimmy around Chicago, Michael and Jules end up in a train station. It is here that Michael thanks Jules for loving him “that much, that way.” Jules realizes that she has lost him as a love interest, but never as a friend. The movie ends with Jules giving the happy couple the song she and Michael claimed as their own.
You’re probably wondering why I am rambling on and on about this 17 year old romantic comedy and ruining it for all of you. Well, that is a two part answer. 1) It’s my favorite movie; I could watch it every day and never get bored of it and talk about it til I’m blue in the face and still love it. But more importantly 2) it’s realistic. It shows that not every story has a fairy-tale ending, but that it’s okay, life goes on. The main lesson the movie teaches is that it is so very important to never leave something unsaid. People deserve to know how you feel. You deserve to be able to tell people how you feel and not keep all of your emotions pent up inside of you.
I have a friend who, much like Jules, is madly in love with her best guy friend. When I asked her if she was going to do anything about it, she replied with a quick and definite “no.” She said she would rather go on silently loving him and never share her emotions that risk losing his friendship over the awkwardness that could possibly ensue should she tell him and he say he does not feel the same way. While I can totally understand her point of view because I’ve been in that position, I do not think it is smart. Watching her silently be crushed as he flirts with other girls is too much at times. I cannot make her choose to tell him; I can only be there to support her when and if she ever does.
If everyone would just openly tell each other important things such as, “hey, I really like you,” or, “I think we should just be friends,” then the world would be a much happier place. Yes, there would still be heartbreak, but it would be honest and pure. It would not be shrouded in the ugly light that lying, deceit, and covering up leaves. It would just be simple, true, heartbreak. And, while heartbreak may not be the ideal feeling that everyone yearns for, it would be better than the fake happiness so many individuals choose to embrace in today’s world. As George, Jules’ editor, states at the end of the movie, “Life goes on.”