Deconstructing Love #6: What Makes A Relationship “Official”?

We’re back with your beloved Deconstructing Love column where Aaron Zhu, our guest writer, and I will be deconstructing quotes or answering questions on love and relationships — Please feel free to send in your own quotes and questions by emailing me at

This week, we will answer a question about the modern day’s relationship status: 

What does it mean when a relationship is “official”?


From my personal experience, being “official” means absolutely nothing. It is a label, and that is all it is: a word, nothing else. It doesn’t guarantee commitment. It doesn’t guarantee love. And it doesn’t guarantee any bit of security.

For those who are in an “official” relationship, I’m reminding you that it’s just a word — a collection of letters. The label doesn’t protect your relationship from ending, nor does it mean you can stop putting in the effort. 

For those who are single and dating around, don’t worry whether your dating situation is “official” because again, it’s just a word. Don’t chase a label, chase the things that the label symbolizes. If you chase the label, you might be diving into the relationship for the wrong reasons.

So, what does the “official” label symbolize? Well, think to yourself, what is it that you want from a partner? I’m going to assume some of the basics we all need: trust, loyalty, respect, intimacy, love, and security.

See, the “official” label itself does not ensure your relationship is going to have these qualities. On its own, the word is empty. But if your partner and you seek to foster a mutuality of these qualities and at a point in time you know you have it, you definitely have made it “official”.

In short, the label of being “official” is not a crutch. Becoming “official” doesn’t mean you’re done. Slinging the word around without anything to back it up with is a mistake many couples make. 

Remember the reasons why you want to be official with someone and keep nurturing that with your partner. Don’t bother yourself with the loaded question of what “official” means. Simply seek and build the mutuality that a relationship needs to survive and thrive.


I think official does mean something, not absolutely nothing. Sure it’s a word, but it’s a word that comes with a definition. This definition can act as some sort of guidelines for two people to regard each other and act in social settings. That said, it varies with each relationship as different people might have different views on what “official” means.

I agree with Aaron that you shouldn’t chase the label but should focus on what it means to both your partner and you. “Official” to the person you’re dating might not be the same as to you and so might not be what satisfies you.

For example, in your head, “official” means you meet your partner’s friends and family and are informed of all their financial decisions; however, they might disagree and say this is too much too soon. Or you assume “official” means monogamous but your partner thinks otherwise. That’s why it’s very important that you discuss this with your partner to come to a mutual understanding and agreement.

At the very least, “official” should mean you can talk to your partner openly and honestly about what it means without worrying it would rock the boat.

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