The Matrix of Modern Relationships

July 8, 2010

I was feeling a little crafty today, so I made a chart. It actually helped me understand relationship dynamics by thinking about all the potential variations. I’m sure I missed some, so if you have anything to add, leave a comment! Also, this is a perfect conversation starter for relationship war stories, so feel free to share those too! A key defining the terms can be found below.

Note: Apologies for the tiny print. You may need a magnifying glass. On second thought, if you do, you’re probably too old for most of the options here.


(terms and definitions by me, with some help from Urban Dictionary):

Bi-Poler Relationship: Double dipping, cheating.

Booty Call: A late night summons — often made via telephone — to arrange clandestine sexual liaisons on an ad hoc basis.

Crying Shoulder: A masochist who listens endlessly to stories of your self-inflicted drama and can always be counted on for sympathy and comfort.

Dead End Relationship: An unsuitable pairing, where both parties fully understand that they are getting into each other’s jeans, not genes.

Fake Relationship: When one party, usually the female, pretends that a regular hookup wants to meet her parents.

Friend with Benefits: Two friends who have a sexual realtionship without being emotionally involved. Typically two good friends who have casual sex without a monogomous relationship or any kind of commitment.

F*ckbuddy: All the benefits of being in a relationship minus the bullshit like not doing enough for Valentine’s Day or her birthday, not spending 3 months salary on a stupid ring, and not spending enough quality time with her.

Frenemy with Benefits: What FWB often turns into. Someone who is both friend and enemy, a relationship that is both mutually beneficial or dependent while being competitive, fraught with risk and mistrust.

Gender Confusion Relationship: Usually occurs when an effete male in the bro community needs hetero cred. He will often choose a high testosterone female who enjoys “broing out” and clomps around in Frye boots. He is also likely to prefer anal sex.

Hate Sex: When the fine line between lust and hatred gets blurred, often resulting in mind-blowing sex.

Imaginary Relationship: When one party reads waaayyyy too much into slight and meaningless gestures, convincing themselves that they are important in the life of someone who probably doesn’t know who they are.

LJBF: Abbreviation for “Lets Just Be Friends”. Used mostly by women to indicate that they don’t want a romantic relationship, but don’t mind receiving attention from a guy that wants to be more than friends.

One Night Stand: Hooking up with someone for one night of sex with no strings attached and hoping to never see them again. It is important not to exchange any personal info with them so they can’t track you down and stalk you later.

Perfect BFF: BFF of the opposite sex who will never, ever try to access your vagina.

Pity Sex: Incompatible with the tingle, lube essential. Usually granted after begging from a guy who you have LJBF’d, dumped, or who has just lost a member of his immediate family.

Problem BFF: BFF who owns a penis that you absolutely do not want to see.

Slampiece: A derogatory term referring to a female booty call who is not girlfriend material or not worthy to take out on dates.

Stalker: Common usage of the term, along with the term ‘creepy’, has come to be used as a defense mechanism for anyone seeking justification for not being attracted socially or physically to someone else. Anyone who thinks an undesirable might be interested in them will almost always automatically label her/him a stalker. Note: Real stalkers seek out beautiful, interesting, and often famous members of the attractive gender. 90 percent of the people who use the term couldn’t get a real stalker to save their lives.

Starter Relationship: When a woman is so desperate for a boyfriend that she accepts the least attractive member of a male cohort, hoping to trade up asap.

Swag Relationship: Promotional merchandise of the human variety. Arm candy. Its purpose is not to communicate or relate, but to promote the social status of one or both parties. The only requirements for a swag partner are good looks and popularity.

Technicality Boyfriend: When a woman who is providing great sex to a guy issues an ultimatum at a time when he sees no other poon on the horizon. Emotional investment is zero.

Whipped: Being completely controlled by your girlfriend or boyfriend…in most cases a guy being completely controlled by his girlfriend.

Zip code relationship: Living a double life. One relationship at home, another at school. Always on the down low.

  • I’d never heard of Frenemy with Benefits….and some of these others. Geez…what a tangled web of ridiculousness.

    • Haha, that’s because I made them up! A tangled web of ridiculousness indeed!

      • I’m still trying to decide where my current situation fits. Which, incidentally, got amped up another notch today.

        • Whoa, I want details!

        • We saw each other at our supervisor meeting in the morning and afte wards when we were both running around finishing stuff before we left we had the usual banter. At one point he actually reference a conversation we must have had weeks ago when we were still planning the summer because apparently originally his camp would have been on a trip while we were in our meeting but I was the one who reminded him of our Thursday morning meetings.

          But then…I decided to eat lunch at his camp today because his camp is beside the pool some of my sites use and I was waiting for them to get there. So I was chilling in his office with him and two of his staff who were also on lunch. But then for awhile it was just the two of us. However, my personal favourite part was when a girl came in and ends up talking to us, disappeared when he went out to talk to his staff before they went to the pool, girl reappears and is talking to me. He comes back in and is like ‘you’re still in here?’ to her. I explain we are discussing our musical tastes. By the end of it the girl totally had a look on her face of ‘there is something going on with you two’ and I was just like ‘dear god.’

          We ended up talking a bunch while I was still eating and he was doing some paperwork. The vibe is there it’s just a matter of one of deciding to do something about it I think at this point. I think it’s a combination of the work thing and the age thing (I’m two years older than he is). I also get the feeling the majority of the time we keep the topic of conversation more neutral and talk shop a lot (we have slightly different programs as well) just because it’s the one thing we know we have in common. I think it’s only like the second time we’ve been left alone together for any length of time though and the first time it’s been without any real fear of someone walking in on us since everyone was at the pool.

          It’s a bit awkward since we have known each other through work for awhile and we are both chatty people. It’s sort of that weird transition stage almost I feel going between being casual friends to ‘ok so there is some sort of attraction here.’

        • Ha! Summer is fleeting! Strike now! You know he wants it, he just needs a little encouragement. You can imagine how he’s thinking, “Nah, she would never go for a younger guy.” Cougar up!

        • Honestly if it wasn’t for the working together thing I probably would have already done something about it. I figure he should be taking it as a good sign that I blatantly showed up at his camp today with a somewhat legit reason…except I stayed talking to him much longer than I should have.

        • VJ

          So in other words, not much actually happened. And the guy might be as clueless as he may have been the day prior, right? Just wondering… Cheers, ‘VJ’

        • Pretty much. It’s a weird tension though…and it felt different the past two days especially because his reaction when he saw me was so strong. It’s hard to articulate that feeling because it’s that weird gut instinct when you realize someone’s face lit up when you walked in the door unexpectedly. And when they then proceed to proudly show you their work in different ways? Yeah it’s not a lot of moving, but it feels like we’re both putting out feelers trying to still gauge the level of closeness there.

  • Ok. I want to know more about starter relationships. It’s not a term I’m familiar with, and I either haven’t seen it in any of my circles, or I’ve been oblivious to it.

    • It’s pretty much the female equivalent of the Game tactic of opening with the friend of the woman you are really interested in. A woman identifies a group of males she would like to infiltrate. It could be a sports team, a frat, a group of college friends who meet up at a sports bar. She wants the hottest guy, but he is either not interested or otherwise preoccupied. So she figures she’ll encourage the most susceptible guy. He’s a stepping stone. She gets to know his friends, including the hot guy. Maybe they even establish a special platonic bond. After a while, she’s telling him that she and Second Best aren’t really working out. You get the picture.

      • AHHH. That makes sense. I thought you meant she was sleeping with the second best choice. That wouldn’t be a smart move at all.

        • Haha, agreed. I think one only moves down the ladder from there.

  • GudEnuf

    Is this supposed to be for women only, or why does the “Problem BFF” definition specify a sex?

    My problem BFF is a girl.

    • Damn! I tried to make this gender neutral. I’m still adjusting to my coed readership…Yes, it absolutely can go both ways. Substitute appropriate genitalia.

  • Vincent Ignatius

    Hate sex is by far the best.

    I love this little diagram. I’ll have to link to it in the future. I’ve already got a couple girls coming here.

    • Thanks, Vincent! I feel that you are very discriminating – so I really value praise from you. As for hate sex, it’s awesome. I once had it for about 6 months without ever uttering ONE WORD. I had dumped him, we’d both moved on, but he would show up for hate sex, it would be super intense, and he would leave. All without speaking. I got to wondering when the hell he’d show up again. Of course, we got back together and it was a disaster.

      • Wow… I’m kind of ashamed I’ve never tried hate sex. I guess it’s never occurred to me to hit on a girl I hate. I’ll put this on my list.

        • Do! Of course, it won’t work if you hate someone because they’re terrible – like racist, for example. You have to hate them in a way that you want vengeance. And then you f*ck their brains out. Hawt.

        • Aldonza

          It has to be that hate that is the flipside of passionate attachment (if not love.) Mere disgust isn’t going to cut it.

        • Agreed. By the way, only one of the parties needs to be feeling hate. In my case, he was the hater, and that was hot. Very dominant. If the woman is the hater, it probably works because her emotional intensity/psycho behavior will lead to no-holds-barred sex.

  • VJ

    There’s no place there for the alternative universe too. The whole, ‘I’m genuinely exploring all the p0rn options out there, I’ll get back to you when we’ve exhausted those much easier & simpler alternatives’. Or ‘I’m gaming more/staying home watching movies/TV/blogging/texting with friends more’.

    Folks have got to realize that as entertainment options expand infinitely, ‘dating’ or ‘hanging out’ is bound to seem, well just wee bit uninspiring, usually. Are you a ‘destination event’? Do people stop you are the street just to hear what you’ve got to say? Are you that funny, witty or smart? Or perhaps simply to tell you (like in all those perfume commercials) that you’re just so stunningly beautiful & smell great too? No? You’re just more or less ‘average folks’ with perhaps a keen hidden intelligence, and maybe a talent for certain games? Then you really can’t expect to be a ‘bump on a log’ and have the world show up at your doorstep. You’ve got to go out & actively hunt down your game in real time & in hand to hand combat.

    So they’re really needs to be more feedback loops here. And the repetition with some phases can and may go on for decades too, so it’s more circular in parts too. As a married guy, I do not see that version here too. So I’ve got me one of those Telsa roadsters a generation ago. It’s very simple in concept, exceptionally quiet & trouble & maintenance free, but required a higher degree to understand how it all comes together in one package. But not a day that goes by when something or other comes up and it’s typically resolved in seconds, rationally & quickly. And she’ll constantly remind me, ‘But you ordered the Simple model, right”? I did indeed, and not a day that goes by that I’m not supremely grateful for that too! Cheers & Good Luck!, ‘VJ’

  • VJ

    Corrections: in the 2nd paragraph above that should now read in part:
    “Do people stop you in the street just to hear what you’ve got to say?”
    [Not quite, but if I’m in a bar in my town, they’ll naturally pull up a chair and know they’ll be entertained’].

    And just to be clear? That ‘simple model’ I’ve got? The one with the fewest buttons & knobs? She’s still brilliant, she’s just temperamentally simple & naturally easy going. As I’ve said before, it’s a unique mix I’d recommend too. Cheers, ‘VJ’

    • Well, that’s really the point I was trying to make. As RT said above, it’s a tangled web of ridiculousness. How about two people, JUST TWO, connecting? No drama, no manipulation, no jockeying for power.

  • VJ

    Well I know it still happens, and even at young ages too. We’ve got plenty of staff to prove that point. So I’ve seen it in operation & recently too. They’re all Southerners however. I’m sure that makes some difference, but when these yes young goofy looking guys find a stellar gal? They hang on tight, and follow her to her next posting. It works in reverse too. But I’m always mystified by it all. Why has this become so damn difficult elsewhere? And we’re talking strictly ‘better Betas’ here too. Deewbish, average height or even on the thin ‘adenoidal’ side. No pumped up ‘beefcakes’. Not a sweet rear on nary a one of them, I suspect. But really, when they fond something good, they damn well know it, and they’re hanging on like lamprey eels. It’s cute to watch, but you’ll always come away with the same thought, ‘Wow, now what does she see in him exactly?’ We’ll never know their secrets, but persistence is certainly one. I can’t speak to the ‘manipulation & drama bits’, I rarely experience it. The power shifts you’ve got to figure out on your own though! That changes thru time & space & depends heavily on circumstance too. Cheers & Good Luck! ‘VJ’

    • Glad to hear the nice guys are thriving down South. I think there’s a fair amount of that here too, to be honest. They all fit nicely into the healthy relationship box. Of course, they’re going about their business, keeping a low profile, and we don’t hear a word about those relationships. A lot of what we hear (and I say) is hyperbolic to some extent, I’m sure.

  • Nice to see a compendium of definitions for these terms, some of which I had never heard before. But I wonder why so many end up pointing to Stalker. Is that really how most relationships end? I suppose of over the years I’ve had my share of those sorts of endings, but that is usually just a short period of time while adjusting to the breakup. Gotta beware the “creepy” aspect.

    • Well, the relationships that can lead to “stalking” are:
      one night stand
      friends with benefits
      In other words, relationships with unhealthy or zero emotional content. People can get desperate in these arrangements. FWIW, stalker here doesn’t mean someone acting like a psychopath. It’s just someone who doesn’t no when to take no for an answer, and follows you around, keeps tabs on you, keeps texting, calling, etc. In most cases it is just a short period of time.
      BTW, don’t take these terms too seriously. I coined half of them myself to describe different kinds of relationships I’ve heard about.

  • Aldonza

    And don’t discount the number of stalkers out there. A lot of times when one party is more emotionally invested than the other, some degree of “stalking” happens…even if it’s just FB stalking or Googling.
    But you’re right, there’s a fine line between “he’s so into me!” and “he’s downright creepy!”

  • Heather J. Lilac

    Matrix drama can be completely circumvented if you just enjoy the time you spend with each other and not try to impose unneccessary demands that will not bear fruit in the long run anyway.

    Life is to short to add stress.

  • VJ

    Yet another ‘Guide to online chicks’ Here: [Language warning]:

    Cheers, ‘VJ’

  • Ted

    Does all this crap really go on these days?
    Have peole have no self respect?

    And what do you mean by ‘dont want to see your partners penis’? on that silly key?

    • Haha, Ted, welcome. Yes it is a silly key. In fact, the whole sociosexual marketplace is ridiculous. As for your question, yes this is a pretty accurate representation of the way young people are relating to one another.
      When young women come to me and tell me that they can’t decide if they like a guy or not, I ask them: Do you want to see his penis? I find this question very effective, it cuts right to the heart of the matter. Usually they do one of three things:
      1. Look horrified and say EW!
      2. Shudder and say, “not lately.”
      3. Grin and say yes or sorta.

      And then they have their answer!

      • Ted

        Well if thats true that makes me very sad. What a harsh world it is these days. It seems courtship, self respect, manners; all of these are desirable traits of a world long gone.

        To think modern relationships are so shallow?

        “Do you wish to see the genaltalia of a potential romantic partner?”

        I may seem like an old stick in the mud but that seems so utterly puerile?

        • Ted, you should know that I am very irreverent, and there is a lot of satire here. It’s true that I do speak this way to young women, but it’s the language they understand. Female sexuality has changed a great deal in the last two generations. I would agree that courtship, romance, manners – all gone. Modern relationships are very shallow indeed. What hasn’t changed is the human need for love and connection, so there’s hope.

  • thegirlwholikesniceguys

    This is just so true! lols You just made a really good illustration of how young people act in relationships these days. Poor slampiece, doesnt even get the benefit of pity sex!

    • Oh, yeah, poor slampiece indeed. This is the bottom of the barrel for women, as far as I’m concerned. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual, either. Women need to be brutally honest with themselves about what it is they’re giving, and what they’re getting back in return.

  • it was very interesting to read.
    I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
    And you et an account on Twitter?

  • jk

    Hi! I’m supposed to deliver this speech about modern/millenial relationships and they’re impact on the youth in class, and I have no idea what to say. Do you possibly know what these impacts are? Thanks!