Friend. Girlfriend. Shawty. Female friend. Home girl. Lady. Guy friends. Homies. Boyfriend. Man. “Boo”.
It’s not Free for All Friday, but some things can’t wait. Today I was indirectly asked 2 questions that need to addressed quick-fast in a hurry. What is it with women and labels? Why do women always have to put a label on a relationship between two people?
Let it be clear – not all women are into labels. That said, let’s go into analyzing this.
A label is something that is used to set forth what something contains. A label sets forth expectations, letting the user or reader or observer know what to expect from something. A label of “explicit lyrics” on a CD alerts a buyer that the CD is unsuitable for children to hear. A label on a can of soup lets a buyer know the ingredients and caloric information — and what kind of soup they’re buying. Labels are informative and necessary in all consumer settings. Whether labels are informative or necessary in dealings with relationships between men and women is a topic of much debate.
Today’s discussion questions were more of an observation from a married man who has a lot of single guy friends who say that “all” women (read: all the women they come in contact with) want to rush to put a “label” on a relationship, while the guys are just “trying to chill.”
With certain labels come certain expectations. A label lets others know: who is this person to you? If a man and woman are out together at a party, people will react to them based on whether one of them introduces the other as “my friend”, “my girl/boyfriend”, or by the person’s name only. My “friend” is sometimes, but not always, used to indicate a non-romantic relationship. This way, if one “friend” hits on someone they’ve introduced the other “friend” to at the party, there is no reason to suspect anything between those people, no sense that those 2 people were a couple or dating. An introduction with the label of girl or boyfriend clearly indicates a dating or couple relationship.
No label, just an introduction as “this is (person’s name),” is open to interpretation.
Such vagueness is often intentional. Maybe those two people haven’t discussed what label, if any, their relationship has. Maybe one person knows that the other wants a certain label, but they don’t want that label. Or, the label (or lack thereof) may be left open for the everyone to speculate and inquire about. Or maybe there is just too much being read into the whole “label” thing.
Some labels, like my “boo” or my “home girl” or my “friend”, can have meanings that vary based on the person using them. This is why in these past few posts, I can’t stress enough that communication is the KEY to heading off potential arguments and embarrassing situations that can arise in the context of male-female relations, especially regarding the use of labels.
Labels are useful when it comes to quickly and easily letting others know what’s going on with you and the person you’re out with, provided that the label has a commonly understood meaning. Jumping into a discussion about putting a label on a relationship between a man and a woman can be just as unsettling to a man as it can be to a woman, if that person isn’t at a point that they feel the discussion is needed (or doesn’t want to discuss it.) Of course, there will always be people who, for whatever reasons, want to “label” a relationship without regard to what the other person wants.So, label if you like — but make sure you know what the label means between you and the other person.
If you happen to be in a relationship that exists, with no expectations (other than the basics like being treated with mutual respect and as a friend) and you already know the answer to “who am I to this person?” — then, there may be no need for labels, and that’s perfectly ok too. Well…that’s this woman’s point of view, anyway. 🙂