You see each other often.

You constantly message each other, beyond the text messaging quota.

You are updated with each other’s lives,  even the tiniest one. Like how the barista misspelled your name.

The other person has the ability to make  you feel happy, sad, jealous…

But you don’t consider each other as girlfriend or boyfriend. You are not exclusively dating.

You are just friends but… more than friends.

Congratulations, you have entered the complicated world of “NO LABEL”!

I knew he was not ready and I was not too. We both knew that it was not the right time but we went beyond the line of friendship, there is no turning back, yet  we cannot take a step further. I was not yet ready to be  a  girlfriend, he was not yet ready to commit to be a boyfriend. But we were already there, so we settled  in the world of “NO LABEL”.

In between friendship and romantic relationship is a chasm that has  no exact term but could leave a deep wound to anyone who dwells there.

“We  are just friends”, we  said. “We are just close friends”, we said. As we try to convince ourselves that there is nothing beyond that friendship, we flirted with failure. Eat out, watch movies, pray together, go to mass together… The next thing we knew, we were dwelling  in that complicated zone of “No Label”.

When the complicated ordeal of “No Label” became more complicated, we fell apart. We walked away from that chasm, walked away from our friendship. The two good friends who once had a  “No Label” relationship separated ways and became strangers to each other – stranger than strangers.

That pseudo-relationship left me with a lot of questions, that I  could not find any answer.

I faced the  dreaded, “Why”.

Why did it happen?

Why did it end there?

Why did he leave?

And the endless  whys led me asking, “Am I not worthy to be pursued? Am I not good enough for him to  have courage  to define what we had?”

Days and nights, I was seeking for answers. I could not find one.

In the silent sobbing and hidden tears, I knew I have to let go.

But how can I let go a love that was never been mine? How can I move on from a relationship that I cannot even define? Am I grieving for a friendship that was lost? Or a relationship that could have been?

I knew I was hurt and felt betrayed but I did not know if I have the right to be hurt. He did not promise to take care of me, he did not promise to love me, he  did not ask me to be his girlfriend – NO, we have not reached there. We just remained in the comfortable  yet complicated world of NO LABEL. We  enjoyed each other’s company, we inspire each other. Why  make things complicated?

Weeks, months and years  of constantly seeking for answers, I still could not  find one. I  guess I just need to accept the reality that I cannot expect  answers from a relationship that has “No Label”. It is like expecting  a value from a number multiplied by zero.

The journey that was, is a misadventure of two impatient  individuals who chose to devalue their friendship in exchange of momentary “feel good” complicated relationship. God revealed it the hard way through Song of Songs 8:4

“I adjure you daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and hinds of the field,

Do not arouse, do not stir up love before its own time

Looking back from where I am now, I am certain  that that misadventure is worth sharing.  If you are (still)  reading this, and you are  in a pseudo-relationship  or even if you are not, this one is for you:

  1. When  friends and families begin to ask about your relationship status with your “friend”, have the courage to ask yourself, “what kind of relationship do we have?”. Can you honestly say that  you are just friends? If you cannot,  then seek counsel from others who  can be accountable to you, someone who can guide you; a mentor, older sibling, elder in your ministry.
  2. If you knew you  went beyond friendship, pray and exercise the  cardinal virtues; prudence and temperance. Prudence will tell you  that friends don’t hold hands, while temperance will teach you that talking to your “friend” past midnight is not what friends do. These virtues will help you veer away from flirting with failure.
  3. When either of you are not ready, then both of you are not yet ready.  Relationship requires mutual commitment to work. If you truly value your friendship, commit to honour and value that friendship first before taking it further. Friendship, like any other relationship is valuable.
  4. Chivalry is not dead. If you are a woman, make  him pursue you  without shortchanging the pursuit. If you are a man, be man enough to pursue her. Pseudo-relationship is like reading the final chapter of the book after you read the first 5 pages! You get to experience the end but you missed a lot of parts of the journey.
  5. The worst heartbreak is caused by someone who will leave you with so much ‘whys and what ifs’ A heartbreak caused by a pseudo-relationship  will most likely leave you with gazillion of these questions because it is so hard to answer the “why” when you cannot even define the “WHAT”
  6. If you  were in a pseudo-relationship before and still trying to move on, stop seeking for answers to your questions. Sometimes, you just need to embrace and be at peace of the reality that  the “could have been” was not meant to be. Moving on is a choice you make everyday, it takes time.

It took me years to finally say that I am OKAY, with no grudges in my heart. I have wasted years dwelling in bitterness, of asking myself if I am not good enough.  Maybe I was really not good enough. I was not good enough to myself, not good enough to have the courage to be firm on what I deserve even if it entails losing the  relationship that brings  butterflies   in  my stomach.

I am sincerely grateful for that misadventure. It was a bittersweet journey which made me experience God’s love and pursuit intimately. It made me recognize the kind  love I deserve; a love that is from Him, through Him and with Him – with proper label.

Yesterday, while I was transferring salt to  another container, I felt the need to label the container so I won’t mistaken it for sugar. I might have a salty coffee  one of these days if I won’t. Then it  made me think, if we need to label  salt, why do we choose not to label relationships? Isn’t relationship  more valuable than salt?

Unlike salt, labelling relationship requires commitment which a lot of people does not want or even afraid of. We just want the benefits of being in a relationship but we  lack the courage to be committed to someone or even something.

If salt  has to be labelled then your relationship should be labelled. Remember, you are more precious and valuable than salt.

Always remember that you are greatly loved!

Christ defined that love on the cross!

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

-St. Catherine of Siena

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