Your guide to relationships without 'labels'

Lauren Gray

Hey Lauren,
I've been involved with someone for about 6 months and when I say involved we are not boyfriend/girlfriend but we spend a good amount of time together and we are having sex. She's a full time student and doesn’t have a lot of free time. I'm just working right now so I have more free time than her. Lately, with finals coming up and school being crucial right now, I haven't seen her in almost 3 weeks. I'm fine with time apart, totally fine, as long as I know she's only seeing me. I've just been a little worried that she's interested in someone else and maybe spending time with them. Any advice?
Hi Eddie,

#1 rule of the ambiguous relationship
I understand ambiguous relationships: those relationships that fit somewhere between boyfriend and girlfriend and casual friends with benefits. I’ve been there. I’ve navigated those muddy waters and I’ve learned a lot.
#1 rule of the ambiguous relationship is that you’re not allowed to get jealous: you don’t have the right to.
Part of not having the responsibility of being in a monogamous commitment is that you don’t have the comforting security of one either. She is free to spend time with whomever she wants and can choose to be intimate with whomever she wants. She doesn’t owe you anything.

Why she’s blowing you off
She’s probably blowing you off because she’s busy with school.
The freedom to have alone time to counter the stress of being busy may be the reason she's only been interested in an ambiguous relationship up to this point and not a committed one. Since you aren’t in a committed relationship, spending time with you is not a high priority for her.
But I also think, pursuing another relationship is even less of a priority. I really wouldn’t worry.
Lets just play around with your options in case she is seeing someone else. At this time, you’re not in a position to demand her to see you and only you. But since you are in a sexual relationship, you are in a position to ask if she has any other sexual partners.
*Make sure this request doesn’t come from a jealous or needy place. You’re just asking for information.
Just as you are within your rights to ask your partner to be tested for STDs, it’s also within your rights to know the risk you’re at by knowing how many people your partner is currently intimate with. It’s your body and your health at stake.

The best way to make one of these “in between” relationships work is full disclosure, both ways.

#2 or get off the pot (you can’t just save a seat)
Now let’s explore your options if she is pursuing a relationship with another man.
This is the time to get clear on what you want. You can’t just keep her around to enjoy for yourself but not let anyone else enjoy her either. She’s not a seat you can save, she’s another freaking PERSON!
You need to decide how important she is to you.

It’s great that you’ve been able to carry along so casually but eventually feelings get involved.  If you find you start to develop feelings for her and your heart aches at the thought of her being with any other man but you, then it’s time to step up your game.
You’re fine with time apart and you’re cool to keep it casual. Great. So is she. But by not showing your interest, you leave her wide open to any guy who does. Because it doesn’t matter how much she likes you, she is going to choose the man who goes the extra mile to make her happy: the man who puts in the most effort and truly sweeps her off her feet.

Is it the beginning or the end?
If you reflect on your feelings for her and come to the conclusion that you’d like her to be your one and only, then it's time to put your best foot forward: be chivalrous, kind, considerate, and thoughtful, plan actual dates (outside of the bedroom) and show her you’re interested and serious about pursuing her.
At some point in the near future you might think about asking her to be in an exclusive relationship with you and pursue a greater commitment to one another. She may not be available for such a thing right now but it might give her something to think about. Especially if you can promise to be as undemanding of her time as you’ve been so far.
If she’s not that important to you and the only thing that hurts when you think of her with another man is your ego, then let her go.

Ambiguous relationships don’t last forever. Relationships either begin for real or they end.
With love,



read more blog posts from Lauren Gray
  • Bski
     6/7/2016 1:20:21 PM
    i just ended one that became very messy after 1.5 years. He went to a wedding an ex was there and it got "complicated" I realized I can no longer live inbetween land. I thought he was stepping up but maybe i misread him. I got very upset which shows its best for me to move on and pursue a better fit. Hurtful words were said and it ended very ugly. Bummed I lost a friend/lover but time will heal it.
  • Alicia
     5/7/2016 9:54:53 AM
    Ummmm....relationships without labels it sounds like a sandwich without bread. I agree these relationships are not made to last but to temporarily " scratch an itch".I think both parties are not serious about the other as a partner and are looking for safe intimacy without commitment. But as human nature will have it, feelings can develop the longer the relationship is in effect. Love and beauty is allowed to surface without pressure. This would lead to commitment or eventually end the relationship without labels. After all a Breadless sandwich is not as satisfying. L&P ...

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