What’s in a name?

What’s in a name-tag?

Co-worker, acquaintance, friendly acquaintance, neighbor, girlfriend, lover, friend, best friend, friend with benefits, ex-friend, roommate …

What implications, if any do these words or “tags” have on the relationships they describe?  Your beliefs on the topic may help sculpt the very relationships these tags define.  I find that there are two schools of thought:

School 1: “I knight thee…”

People who belong to school 1 believe these tags are a privilege – like being dubbed with a title.  They would say that the words I listed start by describing facts (co-worker, neighbor) and gradually grow to defining something with more meaning and emotion behind it (friend, lover).

This concept would make the tags something like being a queen or a duke or duchess – something that indicates a measure of respect and adoration… that represents a level of connectedness beyond the ordinary.

Certainly many of these words indicate that you’ve reached a deeper level of love and affection with someone; I mean, sheesh – who doesn’t want to be someone’s best friend?

School 2: “…ball and chain”

People from school two believe the tags are labels – slapped on like a sticker but thick with stickiness. They would say that giving someone one of those titles carries with it a Trojan horse of unspoken obligations or expectations.

I tend to fall into this group of people.

I’ve dated men, who really require some measure of knowledge or reassurance on our status.  They use these tags to determine how serious we are – or more specifically how serious I am about our relationship.

  • “If we were at a party, how would you introduce me?”
  • “Am I your boyfriend or are we just dating?”
  • “Are we walking toward something more serious?”

Unfortunately, these questions only serve to give me pause and maybe get me to pump-the-brakes on new love for fear that he might catch expectations of what hidden duties I am to accept when I take the label.

I wonder if his definition of “girlfriend” has the same list of expectations as my definition; and when it doesn’t, who’s to blame?  And how do we get past the hurt caused by insufficiency?

Here is a platonic example: what happens when your best friend begins to date her crush and suddenly has far less time and energy for your relationship?

How you respond to that question, likely depends upon how closely you are aligned with school 1 or school 2.

Roles… for the outsider to see

In the end, in my opinion, the words we use to define our roles are simply that: a generic way to define roles used to expedite communication, describing someone succinctly without having to delve into something longer.

Ultimately, saying “she’s just Heather,” doesn’t really describe the role I play in someone’s life.

But still… it saddens me a bit to have to accept the tag.

Couldn’t I be the “ying to your yang?” Or the “up to your down?” Then again, is anyone truly someone else’s “better half?”

I do, however find solace in the fact that the tag is really only intended for outsiders, for the onlookers who really know little to nothing about me and my ‘best friend.’

She and I define ourselves together through open authentic conversation and some variation of equality and reciprocity.

Communication

While tags are helpful in streamlining communication, they should not be the yard stick by which we measure the relationship itself and certainly not to describe our worth (in the relationship or in general).

How worthy I am of being loved is not defined by how many people call me “friend.” 

Or by how much my friends are willing to sacrifice for me.  And trying to morph these relationship tags into some measure of guarantee that someone will love me and meet my needs only sets me up to be disappointed.

How much my best friend loves me can’t be captured in those 2 words.  

‘Best friend’ doesn’t even begin to describe what Talia means to me.  I hope that it portrays some of the basics.  She’s:

  • someone who matters to me greatly
  • whom I care about deeply
  • whom I’ve shared many life experiences with
  • who knows me authentically
  • who I trust with … … with me

(I’ve not run that definition by her yet and I am now curious as to how she would describe it)

And still – those words are not enough.

My point is, I think Shakespeare had it right:

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”

No matter what word you use to describe your relationship, it is as

deep and fulfilling

as loving and meaningful

as 3-D and affectionate

as you make it…

mutually

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About ExaltedPeacock

Finding cool new things each day to love about me & those around me. Everyone is peacock beautiful. Celebrate it!

7 responses to “What’s in a name?”

  1. Nuri says :

    Your ideas of “tags” really interest me. When i think of tags i cant help but think of dogs. Why do we put tags on animals? Well, we put tags on animals to name them for one. Naming is a huge part of the human exsistence. As human beings we cant help but name things because without the names that we associate to things and humans are language would be nothing.
    Another reason why we put tags on our animals is so that they can be returned to us if they’re lost. I can’t help but compare this to human relationships because despite the obvious differences between the tags of animals and the “tags” of humans, there is a large similarity.
    For example, take the first part we give our animals tags to name them. I give my friend not just the title of friend but the title of best friend. To me, that holds heavy weight.
    The other would be the idea of a tag being a way for them to be returned to us if they are lost. In relationships it is common to see someone use tactics like “you’re mine….” “we are this….” to try and control someone if they are acting out in a way that is not seen fit to the person who has put this tag around ur neck and seem themselves as the “owner.” Consequently, I cannot agree with any more when u say that the tags are simply for outsiders, but what happens when we find that these “outsiders” are ourselves? Can we really ever just use tags as a word a name and not attach too much expectation to it?
    I love what u have written here. This topic is beyond fascinating to talk about 🙂

    • ExaltedPeacock says :

      Nuri, that second part of what you said – about us becoming the outsiders – I think that is worth discussing.
      I think we use the tag to describe what exists (or what we think exists) between us and the other person and at some point we “believe the hype.” I think we begin to rely on that person to fulfill those duties or responsibilities that we think go with the title. For example, my “best friend” should:
      – put me at a higher priority above his/her other friends
      – be there for me no matter what time of day or night
      – help me deal with stresses in my life and so on.
      And typically we base this list on the things that we are WILLING to do for them based on having accepted the title of “best friend” from them. It seems like reciprocity – right? And reciprocity is a key part of a healthy relationship (though score-keeping is not). But is your willingness to do something for them, the same as them wanting or expecting it of you? Is it the same as actually doing it for them?
      I think that’s where we go off track. We hold them to standards that we have set for ourselves.
      Only through open authentic (and yes, vulnerable) conversation can we sort that out with them. Explaining our expectations and how we were hurt or disappointed is sometimes hard – especially when it feels like you might be saying “I need you” and that gives them the opportunity to say “I can’t (or won’t) do that for you.” That reply feels like rejection. When we allow our insecurity to do the listening, we hear “You are not important enough to me for me to do that for you,” or “I don’t love you enough to do that for you,” or even worse, “You aren’t worth me putting in the effort to do that for you.”
      And so you continue the downward spiral of negative self-talk.
      Instead, recognizing that our friend’s (even our best friend) perceptions about what friendship means might be different than our own. It does not change their worth. Nor does it change yours! You are still worthy of love, still beautiful, still the amazing wonderful lovable person you were!
      It just means that it is time to assess their role in your life and your role in theirs. Loving someone does not require the title at all – it doesn’t even require consistent contact. I adore my best friend and yet sometimes weeks go by – even a month or more – and we don’t say a word to each other. And then sometimes we talk for hours multiple days in a row. My love does not diminish in the in-between times – and if yours would, then perhaps it isn’t gennuine unconditional love that you share with your bestie …

  2. HikKik says :

    I love your positions on this stuff. I wonder your opinion on a person that needs more than they ever get from one person? Is it possible to have a deep lovin relationship with two people at the same time? Or have I just not realized in a correct person yet?
    Curious to hear your opinion Miss Peacock…

    • ExaltedPeacock says :

      HikKik,
      I thoroughly enjoyed pondering your comment today and could not possibly answer it effectively in this small comment space so I dedicated a blog to it instead – you can find it here. Thank you so much for the inspiration to look at this topic from an entirely new point of view.

  3. Jake says :

    I really love how you split the categories so cleanly. It truly is a fantastically deep subject that do many people don’t realize they relate to. I love how you uncovered the secrecy of the expectations that come with tags. Fantastic mom :]
    Yours truly,
    Jake

  4. Jake says :

    I feel that for some, tags are not only for outsiders to know a general status of a relationship, but for those involved in the relationship to “count steps” if you will. By this, I mean that for some (those with internal insecurities) a tag is not a weight full label, but a reassurance, as you said, that comforts them in a way that only a title can. As you said in one of your other posts, words are hard to believe if one does not trust in them and their very worth and weight.

    • ExaltedPeacock says :

      I think, Jake, simply put, when someone tells me they love me and when their actions show me that it’s true, that alone speaks volumes more than a title can. Conversely, when a title is used to reassure or placate insecurities of our loved one, we are already on a poor path.

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