“It’s complicated” has become the go-to euphemism for just about any undefined romantic connection. Still hooking up with your ex? It’s complicated. Dating someone non-exclusively? It’s complicated. Co-workers who occasionally have sex? It’s definitely complicated.
Remember a time before complicated relationships?
Why can’t it be simple, like it was in the good ol’ days? You like me, I like you, we spend all our time together and, voila, we’re official. Courtship was a very real thing, and it meant romantic dates, exclusivity and committing to a future together.
Nowadays, we talk about our latest ‘hook up’, and when our friends ask about our relationship status, we shrug and say, “We’re just kickin’ it.” All the ‘rules’ about how to act and what games to play have made it super tricky to navigate relationships… and hence, “it’s complicated”.
So why are relationships complicated today?
There’s no one reason, but many people simply don’t want to commit to something long-term. They can’t decide whether they want to be friends, friends with benefits, or in a monogamous relationship.
Then there are those who can’t figure out how they feel about each other. And of course, in some cases, commitment is simply a less attractive choice than playing the field.
How do relationships become complicated?
Usually, it happens when two people don’t talk about their wants and needs upfront. Unspoken expectations may mean that one person is holding out hope for commitment, while the other is just riding it out, commitment-free, for as long as they can.
Plus, there’s the fact that dating means different things to different people. For some, once you’ve had sex, you’re in a relationship. For others, being an official couple is something that has to be agreed upon by both parties, regardless of whether you’ve had sex or not.
So have that talk. Discuss your expectations and desires. You need to be on the same page to avoid falling into the murky waters of a complicated relationship.
Am I in a complicated relationship?
You might be in a complicated relationship if:
- You have sex with each other but don’t have a very high level of commitment.
- Either or both of you dates or sleeps with other people (and you’re not allowed to get angry about it).
- You don’t hang out with each other’s friends.
- You haven’t met each other’s family.
- You make no references to a future together.
Help! I’m in a complicated relationship but I don’t want to be
Even if you’re in a complicated relationship, there might be hope. Give yourself the chance to determine whether there could in fact be a future with this person, and be brave enough to share your feelings with them.
Start by having the talk you’ve been dreading. It’s important to figure out what each of you wants.
Putting yourself out there means being vulnerable, scared and uncertain. It means having uncomfortable conversations and risking your heart – but here’s the secret: that’s where the real magic is. If you feel the same way about each other, it’s 100% worth the risk.
Lastly, don’t settle for less than you want, and be open to finding love in unusual ways.
Don’t add any further complications to your relationship – like an STI or unplanned pregnancy
Even if your relationship status is complicated, your sexual health need not be. Keep it simple – and safe – with reliable contraception.
Pop in to your nearest Marie Stopes centre for reliable contraception and advice or a quick STI and HIV screening. And if you’re already in a tight spot, remember we offer abortions in caring, safe and judgement-free zone.