How Important are Relationship Labels?

Wife, fiance, girlfriend, married and single – each word carries weight and expectations. Labels can give recognition in society. In the same way, titles and ranks do in corporations or any branches of the military. The higher your role in the named hierarchy, more power you’re perceived to have compared to others.

Labels are valued by many. We’ve been conditioned to believe they offer worth. Consider the importance people place in brand name labels. The more exclusive and expensive your shoes, car, handbag, even home street address you live on, the more power you exude.

My mother is full of all kinds of wisdom. We still enjoy great conversations that empower me as a woman and human being. When I began dating seriously, she shared her stance on marriage. She said “Being the girlfriend will never be the same as being the wife.” The piece of paper gives you rights, it is binding. Your husband has a legal responsibility to you. I still wasn’t totally convinced on the institution which might have to do with my parents model – it did not work. Nonetheless, the statement helped me understand where she was coming from on the topic.

Labels not only give you influence and rights. In some instances, it can offer status in society, doesn’t it? Many women may experience a mild rush from it. There’s an indescribable satisfaction in being called girlfriend, fiance or wife. Pride or ego? Dare I say, bit of both.

I recall a situation some years ago to shed light on personal experience. I’d been dating someone for bit over a year. The pressure of friends and family asking to define the relationship became annoying. We were happy and enjoying each other’s company but it wasn’t enough. During the time together we really had not sat down to discuss the labels within the relationship. We clearly had developed feelings for one another and were getting comfortable together. Slowly, frustration crept in on me after increasing questions in social settings. One day, out of the blue while meeting my guy for after work drinks with friends – the unexpected happened. He introduced me as “His Girlfriend!” I can still remember the relief and joy I felt when he used the label. Although, he always made me feel special and respected. The acknowledgment in public was validation for me. It wasn’t that I doubted he cared, it was about him owning the relationship.

Relationship labels aren’t mandatory. There are couples that don’t feel they have anything to prove to others. They shouldn’t have to do it for anyone but themselves. I speak for myself, as a woman. Giving me the title is about recognition because even if I might not deem it necessary to label the relationship, the rest of the world does! Lastly, worth it’s noting that although a label is important. Love, respect, consideration and loyalty to me is worth millions more than calling me your girlfriend, fiance or wife.

We tend to worry about what others think of us when we don’t carry a label in the relationship. If it’s something you need, ask for it. Communicate your feelings about the significance it carries for you. Knowing where you stand with him is fair game. It will help you when organizing life’s priorities. Yourself first. While doing so, keep this at the forefront. A label means nothing, if he can’t give you the emotional support you need. It’s all null and void if he doesn’t know your worth.

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