In Defense Of Labels

So I wrote yesterday about labels in relationships, and how I personally feel that they are not useful to me early in a relationship, and that was read by many as an anti-labels statement.

It’s not.

I have had that discussion many times, and I am all for labels.

I am all for labels being used properly.

The GOOD thing about labels is that they provide a shortcut to longer conversations.

If I say, “I am a writer,” you can make assumptions about who I am and what I do, to jump-start a conversation that might be more relevant. Sure, you might be wrong in some ways, but that is easily corrected, and added to your experience.

If you say, “I am a cuckold,” I have some base experience to understand some of what you are into in your kink, and why. It gets us further into the conversation than having to explain everything from a blank viewpoint.

That is the right way to use labels, in my view.

Using labels in a relationship to avoid having the discussions about entitlements, boundaries, and security, well, that’s the wrong way, in my view.

Because the way I use the word “boyfriend” and the way you use it might be very different.

And it’s so very easy to use that word and feel like we are communicating because we are using the same word in the same language.

Just look at the word ‘love,” as I wrote about it two years ago.

I’ve had the “love doesn’t hurt” conversation dozens of times, and it all comes down, not to the dictionary definition of a label (of a feeling), but our individual experiences and thoughts about what the word means to us.

But I’m all about labels.

I love them! I’ve defended my use of the “kinkster” label more than once, even in writing.

I love shortcuts from one mental space to another.

What I DO NOT love is being put into a box and kept there.

“You are getting tied up? I thought you said you were dominant?”

“A real dominant…”

And so on. I don’t know anyone who enjoys that particular game.

Labels are shortcuts, and as such are less likely to have been fully discussed and understood from both parties.

So, when I refuse to give a label, that only means that I don’t personally have a label that defines what I’m feeling right that moment (if I know what that is), and I’d rather just talk things out, and wait to see what grows.

@MsPeachieRocks commented something yesterday something that I wanted to touch on.

And it’s a rare relationship where the amount you (plural) are into each other is always exactly the same. It’s more like a see-saw than a level playing field. IMO I think what you need to know is if they are committed to working on the relationship with you. And go from there.

A few others had mentioned that they wanted labels, so they knew how much to invest in feelings, effort, and the like.

And to that, I say: A label is never enough.

Do not use a label to give yourself permission.

Do not use a label to shut yourself off.

Do not blame a label when things go wrong.

Because, again, your understanding of a label and another’s may not be the same. Or they may have been the same three weeks ago, but not today. Or your understanding may be the same, but your ethics and theirs are different…

After all, how many times has the label “married” failed to protect a lifetime of love?

Labels are useful tools in communication.

They are definitely a good thing.

Labels are not permission. They are not restrictors. They do not magically put two people into love in exactly the same way, or set specific boundaries without discussion.

If used in that way, they are very likely to fail you and your partner(s).

Labels are like energy or snack bars. They take the place of a meal (deeper conversation) for now, and allow you to move on, but one can’t sustain themselves on shortcuts alone.

Or rather, one who does will likely be missing a lot of what life has to offer, in the long run.

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