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What It Means When A Guy Says He Doesn’t Like 'Titles'

What's in a name or a title for that matter?

Dating

These days, dating someone and making the decision to commit can be trickier than we anticipated, for both men and women. In this day and age, it's a lot different than the cute folded piece of paper you pass in grade school checking the 'Yes' or 'No' box answering the question, "Will you be my girlfriend/boyfriend?" We can also agree that the type of title we want for our relationships have changed over time too. How we go about titles are way more fluid and is now based on preferences, lifestyles, and honestly to protect ourselves from past experiences. But, it is still a fact that titles are alive and well and they mean something to all of us.

I know, for me, as a woman, I like titles for my relationships. I am not ashamed to say that I have had my moments saying these exact words, "So, what are we?" But what do you do when the guy you are dating is not on board with the title train? While I can assume all day why a guy would not want to put a title on it, I decided to talk to the source. I asked twelve of my brothas from far and wide to answer a few questions on titles and get to the bottom of why committing to a woman is something that is or isn't on the agenda.

Disclaimer: For the sake of privacy, some men have asked to stay anonymous for this interview.

What does it mean when a guy says he “doesn’t like titles” to a woman he’s dating?

Donaray, 31 – "For me, I would know. If I like a woman, I would give myself the proper space to get to know her. So even if a guy says he doesn't like titles or doesn't know if he wants to commit, subconsciously, he knows. Us men genuinely don't want to play around with a woman's emotions. If you put a title on things too early and it doesn't play out well, it's almost like playing with someone's emotions. So saying 'I don't want to put a title to it' is like a safety precaution."

Anonymous, 30 – "Some people really just don't like titles. The guy could be ready for a relationship but feels that titles get in the way. He may be coming from [the fact] that he doesn't need the title of 'boyfriend' to treat a woman special or a certain type of way. That may just not be his thing."

Mike, 32 – "I think when a guy says he doesn't like titles, it can mean he wants to keep his options open. Some people do not believe in commitment, but they want the benefits of a relationship without having to commit. Past examples of how they view love can play a factor into that."

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"I think when a guy says he doesn't like titles, it can mean he wants to keep his options open. Some people do not believe in commitment, but they want the benefits of a relationship without having to commit. Past examples of how they view love can play a factor into that."

Has there ever been a point in your life where you weren’t into giving titles to a relationship?

BK, 28 – "When I've said it, I think I just wasn't ready. I wasn't ready because I just had no idea what putting a title on it actually meant. I didn't know what I would be signing up for, so I wasn't going to be successful. I would've automatically started to get into something haphazardly. Growing up, I understood relationships from what I saw on TV. The guy is doing everything he can to make the girl happy. Not really thinking about how miserable that must be for the guy. So I'm thinking, if I'm spending all this time and money just to keep her happy, then at what point do I get poured into? It just messed up my perception. Now I know, relationships are built on beautiful moments, even the small ones."

Steven, 29 – "I'm a guy that wears his heart on his sleeve. If I want to be with somebody, I am actively saying I want this commitment and I want there to be a title with it. There was a time when I was dating a woman and I wasn't ready to make it official at that time. I didn't specifically say I didn't want a title. When she told me that she wanted me to be her boyfriend, I didn't say 'no' but I didn't say 'yes'. I kind of brushed it off."

Cory, 32 – "When I was younger, if you asked me to put a title on a relationship, I would get freaked out. I had trust issues and I didn't want anyone to hurt me. I wasn't ready mentally and I had insecurities. I felt a title would add more pressure where I have to do everything right and I can't make any mistakes."

How do you feel about titles when it comes to your own relationship?

BK, 28 – "I think a monogamous marriage is in my wheelhouse just as much as an open relationship or life partner. I'm not big on possession. I feel like titles at times creates this idea that 'you're mine, you belong to me.' Honestly, I don't ever want to feel like I belong to anyone. I believe people should be experienced and titles, when used as a mandate, cuts you off from getting to know people that could really make an impact in your life."

Jeremy, 26 – "I don't have a problem with titles for my relationship. I actually prefer it that way. I feel most men, if they are really interested in a woman, they wouldn't have a problem with titles. The same way women do not want us out here talking to anybody else, we feel the same exact way about the woman that we like."

Hasani, 28 – "I'm not a huge proponent on titles. It's because of the expectations that comes with it. Once that title is reached, sometimes the flow of the relationship doesn't continue. I believe everything has to flow naturally and not forcing anything by putting a title on it. But I understand people need that for reassurance."

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"Honestly, I don't ever want to feel like I belong to anyone. I believe people should be experienced and titles, when used as a mandate, cuts you off from getting to know people that could really make an impact in your life."

Why do you think a title might be important to the overall flow of a healthy relationship?

Donaray, 31 – "Titles define things. There's no ambiguity when there's a title. There's a lot of mystery without a title and people don't deserve that. It's a busy world out here, where we gotta deal with so much stuff. Why would I want to deal with bullshit in my intimate connections too by not putting a title on it?"

DeAndre, 29 – "I honestly don't think it is important. If there is a mutual understanding of how you feel towards that person, I don't think you need that. If I had to put value on titles, it helps people know who they are to someone. People have ideas of what a girlfriend or boyfriend is. My idea of what a boyfriend is could be different from your idea of what that is. So if we have clear communication upfront, I don't see the point in a title."

Rashaun, 27 – "I think for some people titles brings that clarity. Titles can help set a precedence and lets the people involved establish a direction that the relationship is going. Titles also come with the obligation of trying to make the other person happy. But in a relationship, yes you can contribute to someone's happiness, but in its essence, it is not your job to make your partner happy. You still have to be individuals, whether you have a title or not."

Does a title make or break a relationship?

Sean, 28 – "I think for some people not putting a title on something allows you more room for error. I can mess up more or the other person can mess up and I'm telling myself that I won't be as hurt because we don't have a title. But that's not reality. Feelings are still going to develop and you can build as many walls as you can. You are still affected by that person's actions regardless if there is a title."

Anonymous, 30 – "A title is powerful, but a title alone doesn't hold weight. It's really about the connection you have. Look at real estate, you have titles or deeds on a house. You can get the title to the house, that's cool. But if the foundation isn't solid and the floors are uneven or there's cracks in the concrete, you get an idea of how much love was put into it. A title is just a word to me. It's about the love that's put into the relationship that's important, before the title."

Steven, 29 – "Titles can put a level of pressure on your relationship. But from my perspective, I don't mind a title because I date with intention. Even after my divorce, I still desire a strong relationship with a title. I think a title can make your relationship with the right person and break your relationship with the wrong person."

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"A title is powerful, but a title alone doesn't hold weight. It's really about the connection you have. Look at real estate, you have titles or deeds on a house. You can get the title to the house, that's cool. But if the foundation isn't solid and the floors are uneven or there's cracks in the concrete, you get an idea of how much love was put into it. A title is just a word to me. It's about the love that's put into the relationship that's important, before the title."

What do you think is the most important attribute that calls you to invest in a relationship with a woman, giving her the title/commitment?

BK, 28 – "I think energy because you can recognize this is a person you can talk to and have fun with. Whether that's on a date or just in the crib tweakin'. Having the opportunity to date someone that's just as fun as you are is a great feeling."

Sean, 28 – "I like consistency and a woman who is considerate. I look at the potential and if you are willing to learn more with growth."

Donaray, 31 – "I look for the message a woman carries in the world. That's important to me because that same message is what's going to be passed down to my child. I look for a woman that would be a good teacher for my children."

Anonymous, 29 – "I like a woman that can control the room. She can walk in and it's all eyes on her. She brings a confidence and humble energy with her. That's an attribute I pay attention to."

Anonymous, 30 – "I like a woman that listens to me to truly understand me versus coming up with her own assumptions of who I am. That is super attractive."

Chuks, 29 – "Given that relationships are huge investments, I carefully study who to invest with; if I don't see myself building a future with a lady, I don't bother wasting her time and mine playing games."

Steven, 29 – "I like a faith-driven and independent woman. A woman who doesn't need me to do everything for her. A woman that can handle her own is super sexy to me."

Jeremy, 26 – "I look at a woman's moral compass. Finding someone with a similar moral compass as mine, it tells you so much about their character."

Cory, 32 – "I'm not a guy that asks for a whole lot. As long as a woman is confident in who she is and she has goals for herself, then I'm with it."

Hasani, 28 – "For me, the most important thing is being present. My love language is quality time, so being there and being considerate about what I go through and giving me what I need is super big."

Rashaun, 27 – "I honestly don't know. I have been dating with intent, but that one specific thing that gives me that feeling, I haven't come across that yet. What I am usually attracted to is a woman who is hospitable and who is open-minded."

DeAndre, 29 – "The same thing I am looking for in a wife. Someone I can build and grow with. Someone that can be a partner and keep our goals alive, whether I'm here on this earth or not."

Mike, 32 – "Definitely a woman that is driven to work towards something. I also like to see a woman that has a strong sense of community. I'm a social person, so I need someone who also appreciates building something much bigger than yourself."

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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