We are pretty much in a relationship right now: good morning/ goodnight texts, talking all the time, sending pictures all the time, discussing our future together in detail, etc. Neither one of us is really in a good position to have a relationship right now, but both of us are REALLY excited to have one in the future. Here’s the thing: he told me that once we met (after knowing and talking to each other for 3-4 years), he would kind of just assume we are dating. I told him I preferred that he would ask me out officially because it was a part of the dating experience. He is consistently talking about not liking labels, saying he wouldn’t necessarily want one, saying, “Labeling ‘in a relationship’ is not my style. I’m not into labeling at all.” Why would he not want to put a label onto it? At first, I thought that he wanted a friends with benefits kind of thing, but he’s said that he wants monogamy and to share numerous experiences with me. (We are already monogamous).
I’m just looking for reasons why he wouldn’t want the label. — To Label or Not to Label
I’m confused by parts of your letter: your online gaming friend will assume that you two are dating once you move to his town, but he won’t label your relationship? You’re “pretty much” in a relationship, but neither of you is in a good position to have a relationship? You want him to ask you out before you get serious, but you also want him to label your relationship right away? Well, which is it? Do you want to feel things out and get to know each other before you start referring to one another as boyfriend and girlfriend or do you want to jump, head-first, into a monogamous, committed relationship with someone you’ve only known through various screens?
One thing I’m not confused about is this: you aren’t in a relationship. A relationship is not endless streams of texts throughout the day and playing XBox together. You may have a friendship, and you may feel close and intimate to this person, and I don’t doubt that those feelings may be real, but as far as a functional relationship goes, what you share together stops short of that and always will until you get to know one another in person. Saying you’re monogamous with someone who has never held your hand or wrapped his arms around you or brushed the hair out of your face or kissed you or held a door open or shared an umbrella on a rainy day or shared his French fries or met your friends or helped you cook dinner is not only grossly premature, but it’s also emotionally reckless.
You’re getting attached not to the reality of a person but to the fantasy — your fantasy. You may think you know a lot about this person, but I promise you there are lots of things you don’t know by virtue of never having met this guy in person. And I imagine that you’ve filled the holes of your not-knowing with ideas of what you want. And more than set yourself up for potential disappointment when the reality fails to live up to to your fantasy, by being monogamous with someone you’ve never truly met, you are closing yourself off to potential matches that may exist in the reality of your day-to-day life — guys who may be available for a real, face-to-face date, no screens necessary.
This guy lives 1300 miles away, and it doesn’t sound like you have plans to see each other any time soon. Do yourself a favor and stay available to potential matches who live closer and who can give you the kind of relationship — label and all — that you seem to crave. If you decide after two more years that you’re still serious about wanting to move to be with this guy from Xbox Live, make sure you can check off these eight things first. You’re sounding pretty caught up in the fantasy of what you want, but if you don’t take some steps to protect yourself in reality, you’re going to wind up pretty hurt and disappointed.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.