Relationship Limbo: When IS it official?

“Darling, where is this going?”

Ahhh yes, that age old question that makes girl’s sweat at the palms to ask it, and men automatically come out in hives and book a one-way ticket to Goa rather than respond. It begs the question as to why bother asking the dreaded question in the first place?

Well, we may not want to face this fact but it does need to be aired at some point, otherwise you end up in relationship limbo; the half-way shadows that may lead to the Olympia ‘officially in a relationship’ destination. Those huge gates are hard to break into these days and we don’t have the Hermes shoes to fly straight in, more’s the pity. We’re just faced with a padlock and chain situation, and the only key he swallowed a year ago, for safe measure. Brilliant.

We’ve all been there you know, relationship limbo. You’ve been dating this guy for a few weeks, couple of months or maybe even 6 months now (I’ve been there that long, not cool) and everything is sweet as honey. You hang out together, go for dates, dinner, drinks, stay over, perhaps you’ve even met each other’s friends or the milestone ‘rents meeting. But yet, neither of you have ventured into asking the question, because it makes you both have to face facts that perhaps one is more into it than the other and thus a potential parting of ways in on the cards. So instead, you chill out in limbo. All you really want to do is lock this down but instead, all you’ll find is yourself locked out of his apartment. But why?

Why do dudes like being in limbo? A few of my past beaus were more than happy to stay in relationship limbo even longer than the 6 months mark – I was the one who explained it needed to either progress into an actual boyfriend-girlfriend official union, or, basically fuck off. Largely, you already know the outcome of the ‘where is this going’ question…I was hustled down the garden path whilst he dialed his doctor’s number for a ‘hives outbreak’ treatment with a side dish of panic attack. Ptf. Whatever dude. I think guys like limbo because:

1. He’s a commitment phobe. He enjoys your company and time but freaks out at anything that suggests he is no longer ‘free like the wind’.

2. He likes to have his cake and eat it, then eat some more other cake. Basically, he doesn’t want to lock it down with you because there are several other potentials taking up his attention too.

3. He is revelling in single (ish) life. He may have just come out of a serious relationship and however much he likes you, he can’t bring himself to enter into another relationship so quickly.

4. He has no idea how to fulfill a ‘boyfriend’ role, and rather than risking it with his best attempt, he keeps the union at the lower level of official, just in case he fucks it up.

5. He just isn’t that into you. But enjoys the easy and convenient sex.

I’m sure there are many more potential reasons but I’ve outlined what I perceive to be as the main ones. That’s great, I hear you say, but how does that help me? Well…it’s not all a lost cause. Because it can be turned around, in your favour. If you find yourself in relationship limbo the first thing to do is identify why you’re here in the first place. Work out if he fits into any of the aforementioned slots, and then you can do the following to move this along into ‘boyfriend and girlfriend bliss’:

1. If he’s a commitment phobe, then the only way to get him to commit is by showing him with your actions that he still has his freedom, should he be with you officially too. Allow him lots of boy-time, ensure when you hang out it’s always a blast, avoid nagging wherever possible and make him realize how fucking cool you are. Hopefully he’ll soon open up and start to discover it’s not a mutually exclusive scenario – freedom and relationship. They can live harmoniously together.

2. Get rid of the dickhead. Immediately. If he doesn’t see how amazing you are and deliver you the respect you deserve, shove him to the curb. Then stand on his head as you cross to the other side of the road.*

3. Be patient with this one. Whatever you do, don’t try push the matter or try sneakily label it. He’ll notice that you suddenly start referring to him as your partner, or boyfriend, and he’ll freak and run. This one just requires the waiting game for when he feels ready and realizes you’re awesome.

4. You can approach the subject with this dude, or casually slip it in now and again at how good he makes you feel, or how great you two are together, or how much fun you both have just hanging out. Basically, feed his ego the requirement it needs for him to start believing you want him full-time and that, he is already fulfilling the decent boyfriend role anyway. Even if he isn’t – make him believe he is. He’ll soon step up to the mark for you.

5. Lost cause here honey I’m afraid. Pull your panties up and move on.

I think the main thing with relationship limbo is about showing him you two are already a great couple without asking the dreaded ‘where is this going?’ question. To ensure a successful happy union, the relationship idea needs to, realistically, come from him first. And he will suggest that you two become exclusive, but only after feeling like he has come to this conclusion himself and you’ve just poodled along smiling. Show him with actions, not words, that you deserve girlfriend status and you will get it.  However, I always believe there should be a cut off point.  Usually it is 3 months or 6 months max – if it’s not official by 6 months you really do need to get the hell out, because you’ll be in relationship limbo for a year, then 18 months and so on. No-one wants to be stuck in limbo for that long, it’s emotional torture. I’d indicate at 3 months a ‘let’s be exclusive’ suggestion and by 6 months a ‘let’s be official’ suggestion and if he’s fighting you all the way, then just put down your sword and sheild and walk.  You’re clearly fighting a losing battle sweet. 

*This is not literal. Please don’t put his face on a curb then stand on his head. This isn’t a scene from a gangster movie girls. I’m not condoning violence on any level – unless he started it. Then finish the fucker off.


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