Dating: Surprise! You’re in a relationship.

dating relationship man woman amber madison
Just because you aren’t “Facebook official” doesn’t mean you can disregard a person’s feelings.

For many of us, relationships seem like a big commitment, which is why we can be so hesitant about making something “official.” Being in a relationship means you’re accountable to the person you’re sleeping with. It means that if you’re unhappy, you have to end it. It signifies that if you act like a jackass, your partner has the right to be upset with you.

But the truth is, these things are true whether you call your involvement with someone a relationship or not. Relationships don’t start the second you change your Facebook status or start referring to someone as your boyfriend or girlfriend. The connection you make with someone — otherwise known as the relationship you have with them — starts at first contact: the first date, the first message or the first time you hang out. You can hook up with someone for months and call it (or not call it) whatever you want. But to say that what’s going on between you two at this point is not a relationship — of some kind — is just not true.

Perhaps not defining our relationships is our way of dodging responsibility. It’s like our disclaimer: If you get hurt on this ride you can’t sue me — after all, we weren’t technically together. But if there are still feelings involved, and there usually are, does it really matter what you call it on paper or on Facebook?

We owe it to each other to be responsible with each other’s feelings because those feelings are there, regardless of the label we affix to them. Sure, maybe you can just stop calling someone you’ve been on five dates with, whereas you actually have to dump someone you’re “officially” dating. But label or not, ending it with someone hurts that person. When you act unreliable, it causes pain. When you disappear and reappear repeatedly, it’s emotionally strenuous for the person you’re stringing along.

If you’re not ready to respect people’s feelings, don’t date and stop sleeping with people. Perhaps you’re not ready to exclusively date one person, and that’s fine. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that not having a significant other means you’re not in a relationship. When you interact with another human, that is a relationship, and you owe it to that person to be respectful.

Amber Madison is a Manhattan-based relationship expert and licensed therapist. She is the author of “Are All Guys Assholes?” for which she traveled the country, spoke to over 1,000 men and discovered that the answer to this question is no. You can follow her on Twitter @ambermadi.


US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.


Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.


After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.


'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.


Review: 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For'…

The belated sequel "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" makes one question whether the first one may have been not so hot. Still, Eva Green vamping!


'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend…

FILM Lebowski Fest Aug. 22-23, 8 p.m. Various locations, Manhattan $20-$30, The Dude abides — for 48 hours to celebrate the 1998 Coen brothers classic.…


'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…


Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.


Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.


2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)


2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)


Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…


Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…


Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…


Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…