The Mandate: Making Your Relationship Official

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I've been dating this guy for 5 months. we spend every weekend together and talk everyday but neither of us refer to the other as "boyfriend" or "girlfriend." at first it started as a joke that we just call each other friends. how do i bring this up without sounding like I'm in high school?

What's wrong with high school? At least you knew where you stood in your relationship. If you were hooking up with a guy, he was your boyfriend. He knew it, you knew it, everyone knew it. That was it. Wasn't life so much easier?

Behind an apparently childish attachment to terms 'boyfriend' and 'girlfriend' lies the extremely relevant question of exclusivity. As long as you don't name it, there is in theory nothing stopping you or your guy to go poke your noses around elsewhere. When you are "just friends", it is implied that the both of you can do what you want. You don't do it because you don't want to, or maybe you do and just stay quiet about it. But as soon as those words are pronounced, both parties enter an implicit contract of exclusivity.

Now, for an unknown and mystical reason that can probably be traced back to the genetic make-up of our cavemen ancestors, hearing the words "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" tends to freak most guys out. I know many men (me included) who can have a drama-free relationship for 5 months no problemo, but as soon as the words are pronounced, will seriously start to consider moving on to greener pastures.

I can't really explain it, but there you have it. Once its official, we start looking for problems. Because if there are no problems, we might stay with you forever! That is not a thing many guys like to think about.

This is by no means a universal statement. There are many guys out there who love relationships as much as you do, they are just a minority. But in this particular case, being "just friends" after a 5 months relationship seems to indicate that your man isn't a fan of commitment.

So how to approach the question of exclusivity without uttering the words "boyfriend" or "relationship"? How can you subtly broach the topic of whether you are allowed to have sex with other people without seeming like you're trying to tie him down for a lifelong commitment? Here are a few pointers:

Make him jealous. Let other guys flirt with you at a party or something. Chances are, if he is the jealous type, he will bring up the subject himself eventually.

Get drunk and throw a fit. Catch phrases such as "you don't love me as much as I do" or "what's the bitch's name?" are almost guaranteed to make him flee faster than a kitty on steroids. But hey, at least you'll have talked about it.

Innocently change your relationship status on facebook, and see what happens.

Casually drop the BF-bomb during a conversation. For example, tell an anecdote of when you went shopping with a friend, and she wanted to buy a kayaking helmet, and you were all like "oh my god, my Boyfriend loves kayaking!". Observe his reaction.

Talk about it like adults. Sit him down, give him a beer and confront him. (WARNING: There is a strong possibility that this will end like 2.)

Just make him jealous already. He'll bring it up.

Seriously though, words are just words. I know it's reassuring to know where you stand, but don't attach too much importance to it and let it ruin your relationship. If you see him starting to check for exits when you say "we need to talk", it's probably best to let it go and see what happens.

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