Do Relationship Milestones Really Matter?

Here’s the scenario:

Man and woman have been casually dating, off and on, for about four months. They are not exclusive and that point has been discussed. They are not monogamous. They don’t always use birth control. The woman discovers she is a few days late for her period. She tells the guy. He suggests that she take a test. She says she wants him to come over while she takes the test because she feels its something they should do together. He says no. She gets upset.

Was he wrong for not agreeing to be with her when she takes the test?


My take: If you agree to have casual, unprotected sex with someone with whom you are not monogamous, you assume partial responsibility for the outcome. I think most people agree with that. In a case like this, I think the woman is trying to use a health or medical issue to force a level of intimacy upon the guy and the relationship. If you’re adult enough to engage in unprotected sex, you’re adult enough to pee on a stick all by your lonesome. No need to make it some sort of relationship milestone. Should you turn out to be pregnant, of course you should tell the guy if you want to. At that point, he needs to take partial responsibility. There’s nothing wrong with telling a guy – a boyfriend or just a casual lover – that you’re late. But to try and make it in to an event feels unnecessarily contrived and calculated to me.

If you have to use a health or medical related concern as a way to get someone to pay attention to you or treat you in a certain way, then that’s a pretty good sign that there’s no substance to the relationship. It’s like the whole STD scare thing. Condom breaks or you go bareback and then they start in with the “we need to talk about this/when was the last time you were tested” stuff. If that’s such a concern, then have that conversation prior to the sex.

Sometimes it’s just a case of the guilts or paranoia taking over. I get that. You did something you shouldn’t have done and now you’re punishing yourself or worried that Karma will bite you in the ass. Been there. But making it a big production and requiring a phone call or in person discussion, to me, reeks of attention seeking and trying to force a level of attention or behavior from your partner.

I feel like I’m seeing situations like this more and more – where one person is trying to create these milestones in their casual relationships. I think they do it as a way to make the relationship seem more valid or real. Somebody said it in the comments recently about how a woman they dated used an argument to announce how he and she had “had their first fight.” The funny thing is that all these milestones and terms like “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” don’t really mean anything anymore.  Seriously. What does it mean to be someone’s girlfriend or boyfriend, or to meet their friends and family? If there’s no genuine intention behind it, what does it matter? I get letters sometimes and the woman writing in will say that she and the guy are exclusive, then qualify the statement by saying the man told her he has no time to date anyone else and therefore isn’t sleeping with anyone else. That’s not exclusive!

I know men that move in with their girlfriends and who regularly cheat on them. I know women who call men their “boyfriends” who still overtly flirt with other men and hang out with other men and let the guys buy them dinner or drinks.  It seems like so many people just want to be able to say that they’re in a relationship of some kind. They don’t want the intimacy. They don’t even want the sex. They just want to be able to tell people or refer to something as a “relationship.” In some cases, I think the person is well aware that what they have going on in no way resembles a traditional or serious relationship. In others, I believe the person has truly convinced themself that they are in a real relationship.  The most puzzling are people who try to make an obvious t even a casual observer casual sex arrangement sound like a real relationship. Are they doing that for themselves? Or for others? Is it that they feel they need to prove something to people? Or just to themselves?

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9 Responses to “Do Relationship Milestones Really Matter?”

  1. dimplz Says:

    In a situation like that, nothing should be said unless a pregnancy test comes back positive. There’s no point in putting both parties in anguish when nothing has been determined. This is the definition of being an adult – taking responsibility for one’s actions. No one owes you anything – the sooner you realize that we are born alone and will die alone and sometimes have to deal with major decisions alone, the easier life will be. Pain and anguish are a part of life. Deal with it. Alone.

  2. Christina Says:

    Having the whole “I’m late” conversation prior to taking a pregnancy test just smacks of manipulation. Take the test and present him with facts. If you had a good scare, maybe it’s time to review your birth control techniques to make sure they’re sufficient. If you’re not in a committed relationship, taking the test “together” just seems ridiculous.

    Anyway, I see a lot of this too. There’s nothing wrong with a casual relationship, but for some reason a lot of people still feel they’re kind of taboo, evidenced by the fact that many seem to have to turn them into something more. It all comes down to people settling for less than they want, and not asking for more for fear of losing the little they have. Or maybe feeling outside pressure to have a committed relationship when that’s really not what they need at any given time.

  3. Vox Says:

    Casual, unprotected sex and she wants the guy to hold her hand during the pregnancy test? I guess that means she thinks the guy will step up to his responsibility if she IS pregnant? I don’t think that’s very likely. If she has casual unprotected sex with him, he’s going to assume she’s doing it with others (even if she isn’t). I doubt he’s going to be worth much in terms of moral/financial support during this pregnancy, if it is actually happening.

    I don’t understand this fuck today, worry tomorrow thing so many women seem to be doing. A grown woman with an active, non monogous sex life should be adult enough to take precautions.

    And I agree with the previous poster, this test thing is pure manipulation. I’d expect this from a gal in high school, maybe college. But an adult? Forget it.

  4. Amy Says:

    It seems she lived under the illusion that an unplanned pregnancy affects both partners the same way. Wake up call!

  5. Jada Says:

    Any woman who is having sex without any form of birth control wants to get pregnant. At the very least subconciously. From what was detailed in this story, I would say she is definitely trying to force intimacy with the guy. And even if this guy had been absolutely smitten with her before this “scare” he should run for the hills after this, and not ever have sex with her again, even with multiple forms of birth control. This whole scenario is absurd.

  6. chillybeans Says:

    I hope this “couple” is very young because that’s the only possible excuse for this kind of highly irresponsible behavior.

    Hey I peed on the stick all by myself, and I was married and wanted to get pregnant! WTF!!!
    This is a milestone how? Unwanted pregnancy between two FBs? ?Do they make a card for that?

  7. DrivingMeNutes Says:

    I think every guy who’s dipped his toe into the world of drama queens has had the dramatic pregnancy/STD scare. It’s pretty much par for the course for some women.

    Seems to be unanimous agreement here that the woman is using something very serious to create superficial intimacy. I think what is missing from the story (and Moxie’s commentary) is the paternity question. Only she knows who she has been with. She may know to a certainty that he would be the father, but he doesn’t know that. And, their relationship is one where there may not be so unreasonable to think he may not be the father. So, I’m sure that question is raised in the guy’s mind. The same would be true if she said she thinks she has an STD.

    In this particular story, they weren’t using birth control but the story doesn’t require irresponsibility to be common. It has happened to me when using birth control – and, that is often part of the discussion. She says “I think I’m late.” You say, “Well, okay, let’s not worry yet. You should get a test. Have you been taking the pill regularly” And, instead of saying “Yes, of course” she says something vague or nonresponsive like “I think so.” Typically, you also get something unsolicited like “you know, you’re the only guy I’ve been with” which, of course, is the biggest red flag of all since it is completely beside the point at that stage and “too late” for a discussion about your relationship.

  8. JS Says:

    personally, as they are so casual (aka not married), i dont think he has a right to know even if she is pregnant. If she wants an abortion, it’s her call. If she wants to raise it on her own, it’s her call. Really, what does he have to do with it at all…? Nothing. It’s neither his burden nor his decision on any of it. If you are married, then the man gets to have an opinion, otherwise, it’s her body and let’s face it, most men bail at some point on a woman that they are not married to who they got pregnant…so why factor him in at all. Some guys will tell women “yes, have the baby. I’ll be here for the baby (and/or the woman too).” And then a few months after the kid is born….they realize it’s harder than they thought and they bail. Then the woman is stuck being a mother when she may not have chosen that if she knew she’d be a single mom. Unmarried men have no role, responsibility, or place in the pregnancy (keep or abort) decision

  9. Jenny Says:

    I totally agree. People seem obsessed with being in a relationship. They’ll call people they dated for 3 wks their ex.

    After they break up from someone they could never really stand, they’ll pine for them for months or years. They’ll pretend something dramatic happened to end things, when really from date one, they knew they’re just two lonely desperate souls who agreed to spend their evenings in front of the TV together. But who wants to admit that truth to their friends? That chick I wasted 6 months on? The one I made you sit thru dinners with, couldn’t stand her!

    Stop exaggerating your relationships and broken hearts people. You really think spending time and money on some lame loser is what makes you more valuable?

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