Recently, I’ve come to realise that I really dislike labels. Well, not physical labels (although I dislike the ones here in Amsterdam because they’re all written in Dutch, and every time I search for something new, it potentially requires a 5-minute Google Translate section), but labels on intangible things – like relationships, or situations. To me, they’ve always appeared as though they were merely performative placeholders there simply to demonstrate something for the outside world. Perhaps, that’s why I’ve always shied away from the word “boyfriend” in relationships – why does it matter what one is called, when it does little to change the affections you have for someone? A sentiment that I don’t think many have appreciated.

The problem, I feel, with labels is the way they definitively shape your experience – the expectation and cultural association that comes with its name. I hate that idea of having some abstract ideological concept imposed onto my reality. But that may be where comfort comes in too: it’s nice to be able to call someone your significant other; it’s great the feeling that comes with the label, to dwell in all its pre-determined associations and securities. And yet, there is something just so final about labelling that I cannot help but push away.

Maybe that’s why I still have trouble thinking back on the events of the past year: does it really matter if I label it as the big A word or such? Am I being unfair or unreasonable for wanting to label it so? Am I being unfair, even, for still lingering on this even though a few months have lapsed? Maybe putting a conclusive name on it would help, maybe not.

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