It starts with a drunk text. Then maybe coffee at the Grind or a study break at Swem. You start spending the night in each others’ rooms and walking all over campus together. Your friends start asking, “How’s your boyfriend?” or “How’s your girlfriend?” And you firmly respond, “Um, no, they are NOT my boyfriend/girlfriend.”
And that’s how you know — you have just stumbled into a TWAMR, a Typical William and Mary Relationship. You hang out, you hook up and you definitely have a crush. Also, you would both be pretty pissed off if one of you hooked up with another person. But will you ever admit to being a committed relationship? No. Absolutely not. So if this isn’t a real relationship, then what the hell are you doing?
I think most people on this campus have found themselves tangled in a TWAMR (awkward acronym, I know – just deal with it). It’s probably happened to you more than once even. I know I’ve had my fair share of halfway-there boyfriends, and I have to tell you, I’m over it. The prolonged ambiguity just sucks. Should I text him? Can I talk to other boys? Do I care if I shouldn’t? Can I trust this person? Is it too soon to have sex? This phase of a relationship, where everything is questions, not answers, should last the first few weeks, not the first few months. It’s the uncomfortable hump you have to get over to decide if you want a relationship with someone or not. It shouldn’t be the relationship itself.
So why do people keep engaging in this? What are the benefits of a pseudo-relationship? I have a theory. It’s common knowledge that forging a legitimate connection with someone of the opposite sex is difficult and rare. During college we’re generally too immature to do this successfully, but we all still want the perks of a fulfilling, committed relationship. We want attention, companionship, intimacy, sex, whatever, and the TWAMR can provide a watered down version of all these things. People engaged in the TWAMR are users: they don’t commit because they know on some level that they are only using their partner to feel like they are in a relationship without actually having to be in one. When I’ve been involved with a boy on the TWAMR level the break up is always annoying, not hurtful. I miss always having someone there, but I don’t really miss the particular someone all that much.
The worst part about the TWAMR is that both people involved are usually not on the same page, so ultimately someone ends up getting hurt. One person doesn’t see it as a TWAMR, they see it as a normal relationship and end up getting totally screwed over when the other person drops them like the dead weight they pretty much are. Take the hint early on — if this person actually wanted to be with you, they would have probably already made it happen. So stop the guessing. I mean really, why would somebody want to be involved in a halfhearted relationship that will just be dramatic and uncomfortable the entire time?
What is the best way to remedy a situation like this? I would suggest bringing more clarity to the situation. Make your feelings known and maturely discuss the course of your relationship. Obviously if this were a viable option, the TWAMR probably would not exist in the first place. The method I’ve found for avoiding this black hole is to find the separation between really caring for someone, enjoying attention, and craving a trip to the bone yard. If you have legitimate feelings for someone, it’s worth putting yourself out there to move beyond the TWAMR. If you’re just in it to fill a need for affection, then you’re just kind of cheating yourself from finding true intimacy by stagnating in the TWAMR.
Now if you’re just looking to bang, then your best option is to find someone hot who you absolutely can’t stand. That way, you can have good sex without ever having to question your feelings.
Okay, that last one is probably horrible advice. I guess my point is that students at the College are awkward; probably too awkward to ever find true companionship. Our social development has been stunted by the fact that our school work is the closest thing a lot of us can find to a real significant other. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t remove some anxiety from our love lives by creating distinctions between our desires. If you want sex — go bang. If you want attention — indulge in the TWAMR. And if you want an actual real life relationship — good luck.