It’s an understatement to say that relationships are complicated these days. Years ago you dated, got married and had kids. Nowadays there are all kinds of different types of dating and relationships.
We’ve all heard of ghosting, breadcrumbing and zombieing. But perhaps the worst is the ‘almost relationship’.
So what exactly is an almost relationship and how do you know if you are in one?
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Of course, it takes time to learn the intimate details of another person’s life. We can’t expect to know everything about our partner in a week. In fact, part of the excitement is unpicking the intricacies of our partner’s past.
But if all you know are things like what type of coffee someone likes to order on their way to work then there is a problem. While spilling your life story in half an hour on the first date is equally as troubling, not knowing the more important details is just as bad.
This type of behavior is keeping you at arm’s length. It is saying ‘I’m not sure whether I want you fully in my life right now’. The person is not sharing the deep and meaningful stuff because the relationship is not deep and meaningful.
I knew this guy from work years ago and as soon as I met him there was an instant attraction. We would spend hours together talking. We went to bars together, we would go to the movies together, and we even slept in his bed.
But we never had sex. Things never moved on. We were so close yet so far. I was always on edge, wondering if this would be the night that he made his move. He never did.
Then someone new joined the company and he started behaving towards her exactly the same way he had been with me. He even slept with her in his bed but didn’t have sex with her. I realized he did these things with everyone. He just liked the attention.
Have you ever been in an embarrassing position where your partner has introduced you as a ‘friend’? Have you looked at them afterwards in disbelief and asked them what was going on? Did they come up with some lame excuse?
Did this make you question the commitment from this person? Did you wonder if you were in a real relationship after this happened? Were you upset or did you accept their explanation?
It’s not just them not introducing you as their partner, you are not really sure what to call them when you talk about them either. They are sort of a boyfriend or girlfriend but it’s a kind of casual thing. The thing is that it is not a friends with benefits thing either.
You can’t really describe it to your friends. So because you are having problems describing what the actual relationship is, you are also having problems knowing what to call him.
When we love someone we want the approval of our nearest and dearest. We want to show off our loved one to our family and friends.
We don’t tell our family about the people we are not that bothered about it. We won’t bother to introduce this person to anyone important in our life.
By not introducing the almost relationship person to family members and friends we don’t have to explain the relationship to them. Perhaps our parents wouldn’t understand or approve.
Do you feel like you are making the majority of the effort most of the time? Is the relationship a little one-sided? Do you think that if you didn’t bother calling or texting you probably wouldn’t hear from your partner? Would it be days, if not weeks before you heard from them?
In a real relationship, the effort will shift from both partners but it will balance out eventually. Is it always one person that has to make the calls, send the texts, arrange the dates or start the conversation? If so it could be that your partner wants to keep you in an almost relationship.
You may have fallen deeply in love with this person but because you are not sure of where you stand you keep quiet. You don’t want them to know just how much in love you are with them. This is because you are afraid you’ll scare them off.
This isn’t normal behavior. Since when did closing off your feelings become healthy in relationships? You should be able to open up and share what is going on in your mind and heart with someone.
If the relationship is committed it will have clear boundaries. There will be rules. Certain behavior will be allowed or not allowed. One type of behavior that will not be tolerated is cheating.
This means that you will be faithful to each other. So if you don’t know whether you are exclusive this is a huge red flag.
Are you allowed to have one night stands? Is sexting ok? Can you flirt with guys on a night out? Is kissing an ex deemed unacceptable? If you can’t answer these questions you are in an almost relationship.
It is natural to talk about the next step in a relationship. For example, where you see the relationship going. Are you going to meet the parents or one another’s siblings? Will you move in together or get engaged?
Or even simple stuff like staying over for the weekend or going out for drinks at a bar where your partner’s friends frequent.
Relationships are organic. They follow a natural path. This natural path stops only by intent. They are keeping you in the almost relationship.
It doesn’t matter whether it is a text or phone call, you pore over every word, trying to find the hidden meaning behind the message. What are they trying to tell you?
Communication should be easy and fun. It is transactional. A way of exchanging dialogue, not code-cracking or conducting psychological personality tests.
It certainly shouldn’t be used to find out about the state of your relationship. You should already know about that.
At the start of a relationship, our feelings can vary wildly. This is because we are getting to know our partners. We are not sure of how they feel about us. We are not confident of their love or commitment towards us.
However, as the relationship grows we become more self-assured and our feelings settle down. But in almost relationships, we don’t get this feedback that allows us to feel comfortable.
We might get a signal one day that gives us a brief respite but then we may not hear from our partner for weeks. All of a sudden we are back to square one. We are wondering if everything is ok.
Do you feel like you are interrupting your partner and second-guess yourself before calling or texting? Do you wonder whether it is a good time to call or text?
Do you feel a bit panicky before you send a text or press the call button?
Do you anticipate a bad mood because you are getting in touch?
Do you get anxious or spend an inordinate amount of time wondering whether to send a message? If so this could be an indication that you are in an almost relationship. Whatever it is, it isn’t healthy.
A big giveaway that your relationship is going nowhere is that if he talks about his future and you are clearly not in it. Does he mention working abroad without asking you if you’ll go with him? Has he booked a holiday with his mates?
Do all his sentences start with ‘I’ and never ‘we’? Is he ever interested in committing to doing something with you in the future? If not then perhaps you should start making plans – to ditch him.
They hurt because you are investing time and effort into something you care about deeply. Then you realize that this person you love doesn’t feel the same way. All those feelings have been for nothing. It can be devastating to know you have wasted the best years of your life.
I think it is the feeling that you have been conned into believing you were in a relationship when you weren’t. There’s a sense of wasting your time on something that wasn’t real. You could have been with someone that really loved you.
The first stage is attraction and romance where you get to know the other person. The second is reality. Here you’ll start to see flaws in the relationship. The third is disappointment where the truth sets in. Fourth is stability; if couples have conquered stage 3 they will progress to stage 4. The fifth is commitment.
If you are in a relationship you will care about your partner’s feelings. You will not want to have sex with anyone else. You will know their friends and meet their family. You will confide in them and encourage and support them. You will make plans for a shared future.
We all lash out at people we love the most. It is natural to want to cause hurt to someone we feel deep emotional love for. This is because, when we are hurt by someone we have loved, we feel like hitting back at them.
Are you in an almost relationship? Do you recognise some of the above signs? Is someone you know in an almost relationship and asking for your advice? Why not show them this article or share it if you think it could be helpful?