The Phenomenon of the Half-Way Girlfriend

Modern dating is weird. In order to express interest in a girl, all a guy has to do is pull his phone out of his pocket and send a quick text message asking to hang out. Meeting the parents, picking her up, and the classic end-of-the-night-walking-her-back-to-her-doorstep is purely optional.

Although skipping steps, dating today is still all kinds of funzies. He’ll take her out to dinner a few times. They’ll see a couple movies and have some great first kisses. Alcohol and food will be involved. Laughter and shameless flirting will ensue.

First-time butterflies and nerves are electrifying and addictive. Spending time with someone new, getting to know them, learning what makes them, well, them—enjoying every moment of their company—is one of the most intoxicating, infatuating highs. Endorphins rock. Powerful stuff.

Then, after a few months, the butterflies ease. Just slightly. Both will slip little by little into safety and comfort. Movie nights and take-out dinners are the new regular, snuggling while talking about days of work or classes becomes a favorite pastime. Almost everyday is spent together, and text messaging back and forth is nearly constant. You know his schedule, he knows yours. You don’t worry to always wear makeup, and sweatpants become his dress code.

That’s the realness setting in. And it’s great. What started out as casual dating is not so casual anymore. Now there is a real, intimate relationship. This is what matters.

At this point of cozy snuggles and inside jokes, one would think both sides of the romance would be certain and self-assured about their new relationships status, right? Wrong. Nope, not so easy.

At a certain point, when a guy is really into a girl, he decides to ask her to be his girlfriend. That’s how it’s supposed to go, at least, in my and every other sensible girl’s mind.

Sounds simple enough. We females usually aren’t the ones who want to initiate that game-changer of a conversation, because, uh, well—because tradition and stereotypes are really freakin’ influential (which can be good and bad). It’s called chivalry. Sorry boys.

Girls are taught from a young age that if a man wants to be with us, he will make it clear. He’ll ask us to be his girlfriend, tell his family about us, tell everyone. He’ll go public with the status – he’ll be proud to have you on his arm, to be his.

In most cases these days, The Conversation is skipped. It’s never initiated — the discussion where the couple determines what they are. Are they just messing around? Are they casually dating? Exclusive?

This is the tragedy of modern dating.

If he doesn’t ask her to be his girlfriend, then she isn’t. Well, she kind of is. But she’s mostly not.

Say hello to the half-way girlfriend.

The half-way girlfriend: when a guy and a girl date and get to the comfortable-in-love-spending-every-minute-together-phase, but never make things official.

He wants all the benefits of having a girlfriend, without actually having a girlfriend. 

Most of the time, this non-labeling of the relationship isn’t mutual. It’s the elephant in the room, and the girl is left wondering how many more months it’s going to take for her guy to finally own up to what they’ve been building together.

So many awkward questions come up when you’re a half-way girlfriend. Can I call him my boyfriend? Should I introduce him as just a friend? Is it okay to put this picture of us on Facebook? Is the heart emoji too much? Do I have a boyfriend or not? I don’t f*cking know. I wonder if his mom knows about me. What the hell, why am I not a mind reader?

I’m tired of everyone I know being in this situation. And, yes, all my female friends, at some point, have been half-way girlfriends. I’ve dipped my toe in the halfway-girlfriend pool a time or two myself (it’s wayyy over-crowded, and it sucks).

It’s sad to see so many quality women dealing with bad communication, game-playing, and allowing themselves to be strung along by guys who clearly don’t give a damn.

Relationships aren’t easy. That special connection between two people is rare. A combination of emotion, time, thought, spent energy, and something unnamed and elusive…magic? Chemistry? Whatever it is, much of the human population spends an enormous amount of time chasing after it. Once found, these bonds are important. And deserve to be acknowledged.

So, I’ve created a new rule.

If you’re really into a guy, and you feel like things are serious and promising, by the one-month mark—yes, just four weeks—ask him what the hell is going on. An easy task? No, but it’s easier than wasting months of your life waiting for Mr. Maybe-He’ll–Man-Up to get a clue that you are valuable enough to go public with, to be proud of. Because you are valuable enough. You really are. I hope you realize that.

Let’s call it the I’m-Not-A-F**king-Half-Way Girlfriend-Rule, shall we? Because one way or another, your half-way status is ending. Either he’s willing to take that next step, or not. If he gives you some lame excuse, then you know the harsh truth— he’s really just not that into you. If he really cared about you, he wouldn’t let someone so special be marginalized as a half-way girlfriend, he would not risk you getting away.

If he ignores what he has, what he has, will eventually become what he had.

Bottom line, guys: if you aren’t interested in a relationship, don’t hang with the same girl everyday. Or buy her dinner. Or give her forehead kisses, meet her parents, and tell her she’s pretty. Because she’s going to catch the feels — you are too. You can’t keep running forever. Not unless you want to find yourself missing her, reminicsing on all that you had. Give her the respect she deserves. Don’t make her a half-way girlfriend. Because half-way girlfriends eventually turn into someone that you used to know.

Danniah Daher

22-year-old writer, cat lover, runner. Buy me donuts and we can be friends.

  • Rachel Yarmosh

    You’re so 100% right! They don’t ask because we make it so easy for them NOT TO NEED to ask. This is the era of the half-way girlfriend, but my grandmother (when she was still around – god rest her soul) would not have candy coated it to make modern girls feel better – she would say “$h!t or get off the pot!” If a guy is not going to date you (meaning he doesn’t make clear his intention is a committed relationship) that he has no business taking you out on dates. Me?! I’m a planner. I like to know where I stand. And its nowhere near this blurry, gray area of half-way land. Thanks for sharing!