There are the types of people in the world who are quick to jump into calling someone their boyfriend/girlfriend after a few dates. Then there are the types of people in the world (like me) who never know how many dates it will take for it to be appropriate to call someone your boyfriend (or girlfriend) … even after you’ve had “the exclusivity talk.”
I’m dating this guy who is basically my boyfriend, but he is my non-boyfriend — a term I used when we were non-exclusive, and a term I continue to use even though we are now exclusive. And even though my friends and the media, including Ryan Seacrest, have referred to him as my boyfriend.
Since I was introduced to the term by an old roommate, I’ve called every guy I’ve dated for more than a few dates, my “Non Boyfriend” (Non-BF), partially because I just didn’t know whether it would be okay for me to call them my boyfriend, and also because I am a commitment-phobe and never know whether or not I actually WANT to call someone my boyfriend, even if they are.
The term Non-BF is beautiful. Why? Because it can mean so many things.
What is a Non-BF? Non-BF is a general term. You can call many guys you’ve dated a Non-BF, referencing anyone that you are seeing consistently but isn’t your BF. But what type of Non-BF they are can vary on a wide spectrum. Because of this, in your dating life span you can have very few BFs and many Non-BFs (helping you keep your “BF number down” much like the recyclables in the “sea” help keep your “sex number” down). You don’t have to let the world know what type of Non-BF your current Non-BF is. In fact, using the term loosely is sort of the point.
In my experience, these are the seven types of Non-BFs I’ve established:
1. The “I Don’t Want A GF But I Don’t Want You To See Other People” Non-BF
You like this guy. He likes you. He tells you that he wouldn’t be comfortable dating you if you were seeing other people. In a wave of feeling agreeable, you say “OK, sure.” The problem? He’s not looking for a girlfriend, so essentially he’s not looking to date other people and therefore doesn’t have to change anything in his dating behavior. You are now in a limbo where you aren’t his girlfriend but agreed to exclusivity and have changed YOUR dating behavior extremely. This will prove to be very inconvenient and annoying when he lives his life normally, and you have to curb yours by not going on dates with other people — even though he’s not giving you the attention you should probably be getting from the people you would be going on dates with (who you can’t go on dates with because you agreed not to see other people). This will be short-lived. This is a stupid idea. Why would you enter into such an agreement?!? It’s ok, we all make dumb choices every once and again. But essentially, in this case, this boy is your Non-BF.
2. The “No-Strings Attached” Non-BF
Oh we love this one in Non-BF land. This is the IDEAL Non-BF relationship. Sort of. You’re attracted to each other, but no feelings are involved. You’re not his girlfriend. He’s not your boyfriend. But you fulfill all of your sexytime desires with said person. You date other people, he does the same, and sometimes you even talk about it. He’s your Non-BF because you see him more than anyone, and know that even though there will be others in the dating game, at the end of the day, he’s the one you’re going home with (more often than not.) But it doesn’t matter, because nothing will come of the No Strings Attached relationship, and you both know this going in. This can be fun and amazing, but tricky and dangerous, too. If either of you break the no feelings rule, you can’t go back.
3. The “I’ll Never Call You Before Midnight” Non-BF
This is actually different than the No-Strings Attached Non-BF because there are strings. You do establish that you like each other, and you even tell people that you’re “seeing each other”. You’re basically dating this guy, only after the midnight hour. It’s like the opposite of Cinderella — instead of running away while the clock strikes twelve, you’re just receiving a text message from your Prince Charming, signaling the party’s about to begin. In this case, your friends know him — he’s met them at late-night parties and after-hours and they expect to see him at your side when you are at these things. They love him, he’s funny — always drunk, though. It’s a relationship you’ve created that suits your desire to not actually be in a real relationship. You’re party dating. Oh hey, party BF.
4. The “Primary BF” Non-BF
This Non-BF type is referring to being in a polyamorous relationship, in which the person who you are dating primarily is your primary. I’m throwing this one in here because it still fits in the non-exclusive Non-BF terms. Your secondary, etc. are also your boyfriends, so it gets a little tricky. I’m not going to go into this one, because there’s a whole culture that I personally don’t know enough about to be able to speak to this matter. I suggest you read the book Sex at Dawn, though.
5. The “BFF” Non-BF
He’s not your boyfriend. He’s your Best Friend! You do everything together. You drink together, dance together, go to dinner together. You even have a dedicated drawer at his apartment because you crash there so much. You genuinely love each other and say so on the reg. To the outside world, he’s practically your BF. But he’s not, because you don’t hook up. He’s only your Non-BF because other people have given him that term — not you. Nope. To you he’s just your best friend. We may as well put him on this list though, because you know yourself you do all of the things that couples do with this person, and it wouldn’t be fair not to acknowledge that.
6. The “Ex” Non-BF
You dated this guy sort of seriously. You were exclusive. You may have even called him your boyfriend at some point. The relationship ended and he is now your ex, but it actually ended so badly that you don’t even want to acknowledge the fact that you dated him that seriously in the first place. It may not be as bad as a DTM (dead to me) status, in which the relationship just never happened. It was, however, bad enough that you don’t want to cloud your ex-BF history with this stupid, now meaningless, relationship and so you relegate this ex to non-BFdom so the people of the world understand that you just DGAF (don’t give a f*ck) about it.
7. The “For All Intents And Purposes” Non-BF
Umm, this guy is your boyfriend. We can take a quote from the HBO hit series “Girls” to describe this one: “I don’t even want a boyfriend. I just want someone who wants to hang out all the time, and thinks I’m best person in the world, and wants to have sex with only me.”
He displays all the qualities that any boyfriend would. If you’re not exclusive, you basically spend all of your free time together, that you may as well be. The real issue here is that you can’t call him your boyfriend if either of you are technically still single. If you are exclusive… well, I hate to tell you (or myself), but the issue is with you, and that issue is commitment (or trying to look chill). Maybe you just need to (wo)man up, let what’s happening happen, and give it the title that it deserves. Until then, we hope you enjoy your stay in Non-BF land.