Maybe, kinda, sorta... Are you in an al­most-re­la­tion­ship?

You date, you click, but for some rea­son it never de­vel­ops into any­thing se­ri­ous, and yet it never ends. Mor­gan Reardon ex­plores the new re­la­tion­ship limbo...

Cosmopolitan (Australia) - - Contents -

The other day some­one asked me how long I’d been sin­gle for. In sim­ple terms the an­swer was five years, but when it comes to some peo­ple’s love lives – namely my own – the an­swer is never that sim­ple. While I may not have had the of­fi­cial ti­tle of ‘girl­friend’ for quite some time, I’ve held onto the sta­tus of ‘al­most’ for many years. There was the best mate who al­most be­came my boyfriend and the re­al­ity TV star who danced around the idea of a le­git re­la­tion­ship with me for a ridicu­lous two years. I’ve had girl­friends who have started and ended sev­eral ‘full­time’ re­la­tion­ships dur­ing the life span of just one of my ARs. And I’m not alone in my re­la­tion­ship limbo. With the rise of dat­ing apps, such as Tin­der, ARs are be­com­ing com­mon­place. But what ex­actly is an AR? Guys, that’s like ask­ing me to ex­plain why Anna Faris and Chris Pratt (aka the best cou­ple in the world) broke up – I re­ally don’t know, but I’m go­ing to try my best to break it down

for you! ARs are the grey mat­ter in the world of re­la­tion­ships; they look like a re­la­tion­ship, they feel like a re­la­tion­ship and yet they’re any­thing but.

My first AR was sev­eral years ago when I in­ter­viewed a re­al­ity TV con­tes­tant. While I’m all about pro­fes­sion­al­ism, he was a to­tal babe and I fell hard – like, re­ally hard. But be­cause he was on a TV show and lived in an­other state, co­or­di­nat­ing a catch up was pretty damn dif­fi­cult. We’d text all the time, see each other ev­ery cou­ple of months, have the most in­tense and amaz­ing con­ver­sa­tions, which some­times led to a lit­tle more... but at the end of the day we were not a cou­ple – and yet I couldn’t bring my­self to date any­one else se­ri­ously. Was this healthy? Prob­a­bly not. Could I stop it? Not a chance. Let’s not get this twisted – an AR is not a booty call/f­buddy sce­nario. No, they go much deeper than that. In some cases you might not even get to third base with them. Take my sec­ond AR for ex­am­ple, it lasted six months and while we went on loads of ‘dates’ and acted enough like a cou­ple that no guy would ever ap­proach me, we never crossed over the in­ti­macy bar­rier, bar a sneaky spoon here and there.

And this is where ARs can do more harm than good, warns psy­chol­o­gist Madonna Hirn­ing.

‘Often we stay in these sit­u­a­tions be­cause of a lack of vul­ner­a­bil­ity, or not want­ing to make it some­thing more be­cause you’re hop­ing there’s some­thing bet­ter out there, or even a fear around let­ting it go. It’s im­por­tant to know when to take a step in either one of those di­rec­tions.’

But it’s not all doom and gloom – there are loads of ben­e­fits too.

‘ARs can also be a lot of fun,’ says Hirn­ing. ‘They pro­vide good com­pany and in some cases a re­ally great friend­ship. Re­search shows that the friend­ship ba­sis of a re­la­tion­ship is the most im­por­tant pre­dic­tor of how a re­la­tion­ship is go­ing to play out. It even plays into sex and in­ti­macy – if the friend­ship stays strong, so does the sex and in­ti­macy, so you could be mov­ing to­wards some­thing re­ally pow­er­ful.’

ARs aren’t some pass­ing fad either. Mil­len­ni­als’ at­ti­tudes to­wards re­la­tion­ships have been evolv­ing over re­cent years. A re­port from the Pew Re­search Cen­ter es­ti­mated that by the time to­day’s young adults, aka us, reach the age of 50, about one in four will never have mar­ried*. And ac­cord­ing to the lat­est Cen­sus, around 40% of the Aussie pop­u­la­tion is sin­gle**.

It seems as though there’s no longer a ‘one size fits all’ re­la­tion­ship ti­tle. We’re far more ad­ven­tur­ous and in­de­pen­dent than the gen­er­a­tions be­fore us. We live alone, we travel the world, we change ca­reers, we start fam­i­lies later – or not at all – and that’s OK.

So should you find your­self in an AR, how the heck do you nav­i­gate them? Like most things in life, it all comes down to com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

‘You have to be hon­est with your­self and the other per­son,’ says Hirn­ing. ‘Are you al­lowed to see other peo­ple? What hap­pens if one of you want more? Know your pa­ram­e­ters and make sure you stick to them. When ev­ery­one is clear, the re­la­tion­ship will work much bet­ter for ev­ery­one in­volved and you can en­joy the flex­i­bil­ity it of­fers.’

If only there was an AR box we could check on our

Face­book sta­tus...



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