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Why you should label your relationship

By Sandra Wekesa
Friday, September 4th, 2020
Why you should label your relationship.
In summary

You think the two of you were made for each other, or so it seems. But are you and the apple of your eye on the same page or how much of your perception is being blurred by all the feel-good hormones flooding your body?

Sandra Wekesa @wekesa_sandra

“Who am I to you?” A woman asked a guy she had been seeing for six months. She had been intimate with him, went to his place to do laundry and cooked for him.

But as it turned out, while she thought he was her Mr Right, she was just a friend to him! 

Every relationship has its timelines. It can turn out as love at first sight, or you may grow fond of someone over days, weeks, and even months.

And thanks to today’s hyper-online dating climate, where swiping, sexting and hook-ups have replaced concepts, such as dinner dates and going steady­— so it can sometimes feel like there are no rules. 

Conscious that they can be replaced before they have even unfriended you on Facebook, people end up stifling their real feelings so as not to scare the other person off.

The upshot of that is that people get mired in weeks- or months-long interactions that don’t go anywhere. 

However, while at it, it is always easy to be with someone and think you are on the same page. But well, you might be wrong. 

While some people may find it okay to not define their relationship, experts insist on its importance to prevent heartbreaks.

Marriage therapist, Nicoleta Mungai, from Kenya Marriage Counselling says the right way to kick off a relationship is by getting to know each other first and defining what exactly is going on between the two of you.

Being in the same boat

“This helps in being able to tell the direction of your relationship instead of jumping into conclusion on what you want to hear,” she says.

After being in a relationship, which wasn’t defined, Mercy Njoki decided to be keen with whatever she got involved in. It had lasted for 10 months. 

“In my relationship with someone who didn’t value me, I realised the need of being open in a relationship.

When a man tells you something, he means it. If he doesn’t tell you anything, you could be in for a ride,” she says.

Mungai says one of the ways to define a relationship is by opening up to each other and understanding how the person you are seeing is looking at the relationship and how far you want to go.

“You will know that the relationship needs to be defined through these markers, either you are seeing each other exclusively and there is continual and easy contact or the natural assumption that you always find yourselves spending the weekend together,” Mungai explains. 

If you are already behaving like a couple, then it’s definitely appropriate to ask, “So, what are we?”

Or, better yet, tell the person you are seeing what you want to be, so you are owning your intentions and making them clear.

If they can’t give you what you need at this stage, then you have the autonomy to decide how you want to go forward.

Don’t enter a relationship where you can’t get what you need, or your resentment will build into an atomic cloud over time, and your relationship will implode.

According to Dr Francis Paul Kerre, a sociologist and senior lecturer at Kenyatta University, when a man doesn’t define a relationship, it’s either because he is not ready, doesn’t see the need to settle or he just doesn’t see you as a potential partner.

Don’t force yourself

“The first meeting is always critical. When you go on a first date, always be attentive to what he says.

Try to analyse things by yourself. The moment he tells you he is not ready to be in a relationship, then don’t force it, or start committing yourself hoping that he will change along the way,” he advises.

In case you have been together for a while, and your partner shows no commitment Dr Kerre advises one to just call it quits. 

“If he is not committed and has never thought of defining you as part of his life, then your relationship has been treated as a comfort partner and not a lifelong partner.

Your partner needs to value you as an important partner who shares with you his thoughts now, tomorrow and the future and being part of you always,” he explains. 

“Men like comfort and the moment you step in and start washing his clothes, cooking and playing wifely duties and he hasn’t taken the initiative to define the relationship, then you will end up getting hurt because he will just enjoy the services and will rarely make you his wife.” he adds. 

Having a conversation will help you better understand the relationship and what the other person wants, as well as position you to navigate difficult discussions, arguments or even full-blown fights later on.

“Defining the relationship doesn’t mean you have to get married and spend the rest of your lives together, but it does show your partner that you are committed to them and potentially see a future together,” says Mary Maina a communication specialist.

Set  boundaries

This conversation can also help address sexual risk in a relationship as well.

“For example, you want to be sure that your partner is only interested in seeing you or is seeing other people.

It’s important to define sexual boundaries for the relationship so that you can mitigate exposure and risk to potential Sexually Transmitted Infections or unplanned pregnancy,” she says. 

Having this conversation is needed to ensure the sexual health of both partners.

If you are still seeing other people, you need to keep using condoms to protect your health and the health of your partner.

The experts agree that women need to be good researchers and ensure they monitor how their potential spouses behaves.

If in case you are in a relationship that the man is always going out with his friends and leaving you to attend to his chores, that is a red flag and you have to move on before you waste much of your time.

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