The Enigma of the Quasi-Relationship

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“He’s my uh…we’re uh…he’s a friend.”

How many times have you been introduced to a friend’s mysterious significant other in this way? Hooking up. Exclusive. Un-exclusively hanging out. Let’s be honest with ourselves and tell it like it really is. When the guy or girl you’re seeing is throwing around words like these, neither of you actually knows what’s going on.

It’s no secret that dating in this day and age is not as simple or clear-cut as it once was. While our parents spent their teen years going to movies and school dances with their sweethearts, our generation’s dating culture is colored by casual hookups and indefinable relationships. In the past, you were either single or taken, but now there are so many different ways to classify a sexual relationship that it’s impossible to keep track of what they all mean.  

We all love to pretend that the casual hookup is manageable and healthy, because it’s easy and it doesn’t require commitment. But Millie, a senior at Colombia University, has had the experience to know that the undefined quasi-relationship can be much more complicated than it seems.

“Lack of exclusivity allows you to either believe in the delusion that things don’t have to be serious, or the delusion that things are about to get serious,” she said. In other words, the casual hookup often involves a lack of real communication. Millie has had experience with both of these types of relationships.

One of Millie’s un-exclusive hookups came with a number of benefits, though not the right ones. “Truth be told, I hated the guy’s company aside from the material things he enabled me to enjoy,” she admits. “When I told him I was seeing other people, he insisted it was fine. He was prepared to win me over at all costs, stuck in the delusion that it could turn into something more serious.”

Another of Millie’s hookups seemed to be the perfect guy for her. “We spent every day together and shared all the same interests.” But there was a catch.

It didn’t matter to me that he had a girlfriend, since it was obvious that he barely had time to spend with her because of all the time and attention he devoted to me.”

Millie soon discovered how complicated and disappointing an un-exclusive, undefined relationship could be. “It took me a long time to realize that not being exclusive with him was a crutch that he would use to keep us from escalating to the next level.”

Millie’s experience reveals the sad truth about the undefined relationship: it ultimately ends in disappointment. She wisely says, “Anyone who is so afraid of labels, who so consistently keeps you at an arms’ length, just doesn’t want to be with you.”

 And why would you want to be kept an arms’ length away from someone you’ve invested your valuable time into? No matter what convoluted phrase you use, there’s no denying that the ambiguous hookup is just a way to evade real connection and commitment.  

Photo taken from and

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