05 February 2010

The Unofficial Relationship (Part 1)

I love this picture of contemporary christian musicians Shane Bernard & Bethany Dillon's wedding, I think it goes well with the title of the post.

I'm on facebook and I changed my relationship status from "single" to "its complicated". Well, I was thinking one day (yes, I think, occasionally) and I realised that while I was not in a relationship, I wasn't really single. It was then that I coined the phrase "Unofficial Relationship" to describe what sort of situation I was in.

Many people are actually in unofficial relationships, from hence forth referred to as "UOR".

Here are two people who like each other but for some reason or other cannot commit. I've seen it happen between a young man seeking a young woman. He likes her and has made his position clear. The young lady does not give a no but doesn't give a yes either. Perhaps she says, give me time or not right now. The two begin hanging out, or talking alot. The young man buys her gifts and talks to her alot. They become close sharing what is happening in their lives, enjoying many benefits of being in a relationship but are not really. The two individuals isolate themselves.

Or perhaps its a guy, alittle too young to seek a girl, a teenager, still a dependant. He likes a girl and starts sending her alot of text messages or calling her and chatting with her. The girl likes him back and before long they become close and go for walks perhaps and he buys her gifts, maybe she does the same. They enter into an UOR. For teens nowadays whether Christian or non-Christian, I've observed, the chap sees the girl, likes her and pursues her. They get hitched and "breakup" in due course (ever noticed they just never last, these teen/post-teen relationships?)

Its not always the same, but the idea of isolation and developing a rather close friendship is prominent. The feelings are typically mutual or else there wouldn't be an UOR in the first place.

Basically an UOR is a relationship between a male and female (ideally) where while the two have not committed to each other they have isolated each other. While they may not necessarily do everything that two people in an official relationship do, they do things which two people in an ordinary friendship do not do, they are somewhere in between the mere friendship and the official relationship.

I call it unofficial for obvious reasons, if you ask the two individuals whether they are in a relationship, the answer will be a definite no. But if you ask them how often they talk to each other, how much time the see each other, how often they are together, you will soon find, that there is some sort of "thing" going on.

Now (Paul Washer always goes to the next point of his sermon like that, "Now, ..."), UOR are dangerous and unbiblical making them wrong. I hope to discuss that in Part II.

I have "charged" two people of being in UORs both of whom actually were, they both bitterly denied it, which is natural for people in UORs. The first person I "charged" was a young lady, she denied it because she had been approached by the young man and liked him but still wasn't so sure she wanted to see him and didn't want to feel or appear bound. Yet she entertained him and accepted his gifts and attention. The other was a man, he too denied it, I don't know why. In his particular case he sought the young lady and she basically said it was too early but she liked him too and now they are bound to each other by virtue of the fact that he had declared his love and she her like and now it would be betrayal on her part if she started seeing another man either now or later cause he's waiting.

I was going to give a list of things to help someone better judge whether or not they are in an UOR, but here is a simple test.

The official relationship and the UOR have alot of things in common but here is the clincher. In both, the individuals are bound. In the official relationship, it would be taboo for any of the mates to begin pursuing anyone other than their mate and it would hurt their partner. Its exactly the same in an UOR. The two are bound to each other. The man has shown his interest by the attention and gifts and the lady likes him and so entertains him. Should the man "move on", the lady will feel betrayed.

"He sent me all those signs only to leave me."

Were you together?


Then why are you hurt, why do you feel betrayed? I'll tell you why, you decided to enjoy a relationship without committing. You consented to an UOR.

Or perhaps the man is the victim when the lady accepts another man who approaches her.

"I sent her all those gifts, all those text messages, all those chats we had, all that time we talked and spent time together, yet she was just using me to pass time, I feel betrayed."

Were you seeing each other?


Then why feel betrayed? You were not in a relationship so she was still a free woman.

And the problem is, you cannot take your mate to task for leaving you because it wasn't official. The papers were not signed as it were. All it would take is for your mate to say, "No we weren't." and that would be it.

If your "friend" suddenly started seeing someone or entertaining someone other than you, would you feel hurt or betrayed? My dear friend, you are in an Unofficial Relationship and it is dangerous and it isn't biblical.


mimi said...

I have recently met a guy who is from the same country as my father (a muslim/arab country), however; i was raised as a christian but follow the culture of my father's country so in some ways we share the same beliefs. One of those beliefs include the fact that ideally, there should be no sex before marriage and that if a guy asks a girl that he barely knows out for a coffee, it's not seen as 'just friends' and assumptions would be made. It might sound silly, but it's part of the culture. So we have been meeting, just for coffee and we chat on the phone quite often. He lives on the other side of the city so we make an effort to meet and catch up. He is a real gentleman, someone that I would like to be in a relationship with. he has hinted many times that he wants to 'settle down' but I am left feeling confused because neither of us have actually said how we feel, even though to me it's becoming more and more obvious. To make things worse, he has told me that he used to have depression and I have noticed signs of that since I have known him. Sometimes he is a little distant and he seems to find it hard to trust people, but he is opening up to me, which is lovely. I feel I can talk to him about almost anything.

I am considering telling him how I feel, as he is really shy and I can't see him addressing the situation anytime soon. Maybe it will be a good thing to have our feelings out in the open?

I cannot stand all of this pretence and awkwardness around the subject and I sense that he doesn't realise how I feel about him.

So that gives another example of a UOR. It can be due to shyness/awkwardness. Personally I think the UOR is annoying when it's not actually what either person wants but perhaps it suits some people.

Great blog. I had only just come across the term UOR and realised it applies to me, typed it into google and found this blog. I feel so much better to realise that a lot of people out there have this situation. It's opened my eyes.

Mwindula Mbewe said...

Hi Mimi,

Absolutely great hearing from you, so much for thinking that I coined the term!

I hear you. Its a frustrating thing. Usually, UOR's develop because the individuals cannot, for one reason or other, commit at that particular time. I'm not sure if thats the case with you.

Well, I'd like to hear more about your situation. Drop me a line, my email is on the blog. Have you spoken to someone you trust (someone older) and confide in?

Thanks again, its comments like yours that really put the cherry on the cake interms of writing here, if you catch my drift...

Anonymous said...

Soon learnt, soon forgotten.

Anonymous said...

true i have been in one of those. all you have said is true especially if he kisses anothe girl while you are away and think there was something going on but to him he just saw you as a friend. very frustrating but am glad am not involved with him any more. am waiting for the right man to come along. in fact am praying for the Lord to give me the right one. nice one.

Anonymous said...


hello I am into a UOR.. im a Filipina and the guy i met through a common friend was an American Iranian.. the story started like this:

One day my friend "siomai" (i dont want to mention my friend's real name), invites me to go to hotel to visit her and his husband. Her husband get a big room with 2 bedrooms for them and the visitors. Siomai's husband had this American Iranian guy at the age of 24. They are like father and son but siomai and her husband were both Filipinos too. Siomai and I and the American guy had the first bonding in the room. We play card games and eat together. I've been staying in the hotel with siomai and her husband for about 2 days when that American Iranian guy decided to sleep there also. We're on the same room - the guest room. We sleep together. I was a little bit drunk but I still know what's going on. The guy ask me if it's ok to kiss me. I said no, then suddenly i feel cold. He get closer to me to let me feel comfortable. Then "THAT" happened.

After that night, we started texting each other and before he goes to US something happened between us. When he get back here in the Philippines he brought something to me. A late christmas gift. He is studying here that's why he get back. But when he get back here, he found out that I'm engaged the time he go to his country. I thought that Im not important to him that's why I decided to give my yes to the other man. Even though I'm engage we still hang out and that time I told him that my decision is final that I will marry the other man even though i don't love that man (I love the american iranian guy but i didn't tell it to him) he then told me that HE'S NOT SERIOUS,HE'S JUST HAVING FUN,AND HOW COME THAT HE WILL LIE TO ME, IF WE'RE NOT DATING,HE ALSO SAID TO ME THAT I SHOULD NOT GET TOO EMOTIONALLY CLOSE WITH HIM AND HE CAN STAY ONLY AS FRIEND. I was badly hurt cause I thought he will prevent me doing the marriage. He do not know that I chose him taht's why the marriage was canceled.But to tell you honestly I fell inlove with him that fast because he made me feel so special. He said to me that I'm special when I am not yet engaged. Now I am hurt because he is not like to me as before. He doesn't text me as often as before. I don't know what to do but I want to know WHAT AM I TO HIM NOW. I TEXT HIM AND SHOW HIM MY CARE NOW EVEN I DIDN'T GET A REPLY. I TOLD HIM I LOVE HIM IN TEXT EVEN THOUGH THERE'S NO RESPONSE. Now I stop texting him but when he had still time to me he said "see you after 3 weeks". He had exams and I know he's busy but I want to know as early as I can what am i to him now.. please help me what to do