Relationship Labels—The Gray Area of Romance

The issue of “titles” or “labels” comes up a lot in relationships – both personal and professional. Before you panic about your relationship status (or lack thereof) check out this Modern Manners Guy tip.

Richie Frieman
2-minute read


The other day I received the following email from a Modern Manners Guy listener named John. He asked me to share his story, since he figured that he wasn’t alone. And he’s right.

“I recently started dating this girl who I really like. However, I don’t want to rush things and put a label on who we are just yet. The other day, while out shopping, we ran into a friend of mine and when I went to introduce the girl to him, I fumbled as to how to address her relation to me. I didn’t want to say ‘girlfriend’ because we haven’t had that talk yet, but I didn’t want to call her a ‘friend’ because she’s much more than that. I ended up not introducing her at all since he was pulled away rather quickly by the cashier. I was saved… for now. What do you recommend for these sorts of situations?”

The issue of “titles” or “labels” comes up a lot in relationships – both personal and professional.  For example, even is someone is your boss, to say “Hi, this is my boss John,” still sounds rather awkward and authoritative for a casual introduction. In a meeting, yes, but in a social setting (like lunch, coffee, walking on the street, etc.) when you bump into someone – not so much.

In romantic relationships especially, people become frantic about their status and the label that goes along with it. I mean you never want to say, “Hi Bob, great to see you. This is Jamie…a girl that I’m dating.” Ugh, can you imagine?  How awkward.

The way I see it, if you are too nervous about a label, don’t use one. Why do you have to include a label anyway? What’s wrong with, “Hi Bob, great to see you…This is Jamie.”

Boom. Done. Easy-breezy. And just leave it like that.

Later on, if you want to reconnect with Bob, you can easily explain who Jamie is, but it’s not necessary.  Not everyone in your life needs a title to introduce him or her, even if you are doing so in a formal matter. Say you take someone to a wedding as your date, you do not need to introduce them with a title that explains “why” they are with you. A simple, “I’d like you to meet Jamie,” should suffice. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.

But no matter which way you go, under no circumstances should you say to your date, “Oh, I should have said what you are to me, shouldn’t I?” See, that’s awkward…and may land you in a much deeper conversation that you were not prepared to have.

If you’re not yet ready to label your significant other, check out my series on Gift Ideas for the Unofficial Relationship, Part 1 and Part 2.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.