So, how long have you been dating?
September 28, 2014 8:27 PM   Subscribe

Like many other on-again, off-again couples, my boyfriend and I are having problems answering the question, "how long have you been dating?"

My boyfriend and I got together six-ish years ago, but have broken up and gotten back together twice within that time period. The broken up periods lasted for weeks to months, and during those broken-up periods, we both dated some other people. Eventually, we have always found our way back together, and this time, I think we are in it for the long haul. But when exactly is our anniversary? Is it the day we first started dating, six years ago, or is it the day when we most recently got back together (two and a half-ish years ago)?

On the one hand, it feels kind of weird to not acknowledge our entire (kind of weird, but very special to us) history together. We were a huge part of each other's lives, even during the break ups. On the other hand, we DID really and truly break up, and we WERE with other people for certain interims. Is it okay to go with "six years" when we answer this question, even if we didn't spend every single day together in a romantic relationship? Is that rude and disrespectful to those other people we dated? The reason I even ask is that we want to put our "anniversary date" on Facebook, but we aren't sure when exactly that is, and we could use some insight from others on this problem. Thanks so much for any help you guys can provide!
posted by SkylitDrawl to Human Relations (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Any answer that works for you is OK. Here are two options:
1. The anniversary of your first date is the anniversary of your relationship. The answer to how long have you been together is "It's been six years since our first date"
2.Figure how long you think you've been a couple - say four years at this point. Then the answer to long you've been together is "four years but not all in a row"
posted by metahawk at 8:34 PM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

When you're answering the question that people ask, you can say 'off and on for 6 years.' That's accurate and honest.

Or just say '6 years' -- people who are asking such a basic question really don't want to know the ins and outs of your breakups. They might get to that point later but it's really too early to be having a big discussion about it if they don't even know how long you've been together.

Nobody cares what you put on Facebook. Put whatever makes you happy. Or put nothing at all if trying to answer the question makes you unhappy. Because seriously, nobody else is going to care, and if anyone does, they are deliberately creating Facebook drama.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:34 PM on September 28, 2014 [14 favorites]

Pick a duration that you feel is representative of your relationship. That question is just to ascertain if you've just started dating, are serious, or have been together an unusually long time.

I would just say 6 years. Unless it's an interview for a green card or a deposition, nobody cares about whether you were actually together on June 1, 2012.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:36 PM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oddly enough, in my social circle, people do really care about this.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 8:38 PM on September 28, 2014

That is their problem. It's Facebook, put whatever you want.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:39 PM on September 28, 2014 [22 favorites]

I think if the pre-now time is important to you, then go with that on Facebook and conversations. Those other people you were dating aren't more important than this relationship, otherwise you'd be with them now. If people really need clarification about how much you were ACTUALLY together during the time you were apart, that can take place during follow-up chitchat.
posted by bleep at 8:41 PM on September 28, 2014

I dated a woman on and off for 9 years. I would say out of those 9 years we were a couple for over 8 yrs. Whenever we were asked, since the whole story was really none of anyone's business, we just said 9 years.

Fwiw, we both married other people and got divorced after 20 years of marriage to our respective spouses. I am still friends with her. Whenever people ask us now, we still say 9 years.

If you feel like explaining, say whatever fraction your wish. Otherwise I suggest just saying about 6 years and letting it go.
posted by 724A at 8:41 PM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just date it back to your first date. You've been together for 6 years, and you only broke up a couple times for a few weeks or months here and there.

This is like me saying I've worked for the same company since August 2008, when in fact I was out of work for 4 months in late 2010 and then switched to a different department and location within the company. That gap is such a small portion of my overall time with the company that I'm entitled to gloss over it if I'm speaking in generalities with people who don't need to know the exact details. If I'm talking to someone who seems to really want to know the details, I'll tell them.

So, say 6 years if you're talking to someone who just wants a basic answer. But if you're talking to people who "do really care about this," and if you're comfortable letting them know that it was off-and-on, just admit the details as you've already told me. Or, if you think they're really curious but you're uncomfortable giving them the details, stick to 6 years.
posted by John Cohen at 8:58 PM on September 28, 2014

You say "on and off for about 6 years" and if that's not good enough for nosy people just stare at them judgmentally until they feel weird about it.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:16 PM on September 28, 2014 [8 favorites]

"4 - 6 years, depending on how you count ;)"

For the date, you get to pick and nobody is allowed to give you guff for whatever date you choose. If you want to pick the original date, awesome. If you want to pick the date you most recently got back together, cool. If you want to pick some date more mathematically representative of the total running-time of your togetherness, that's a little weird, but totally fine also.
posted by the jam at 9:28 PM on September 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would say the more recent date. Otherwise it could lead to awkwardness with anyone who remembers you being with someone else during one of the breakup periods but doesn't know that you were broken up.

If your social circle, as you say, cares about this, I can just imagine someone seeing a date of 2008 and thinking, "but that time we were at that party in 2010 and she went home with that cute guy... oh my god, she must have been cheating!"
posted by lollusc at 10:17 PM on September 28, 2014

My partner and I dated in high school, went through several tumultuous breakups, stopped speaking to each other altogether, had several serious relationships with other people (I got married to someone else and then divorced again) and finally got back together and married each other at age 30.

When people ask, I say "Oh, we started dating way back in high school." It answers the question. It is not false. Depending on how the conversation goes after that, I might mention that there was drama in between high school and the wedding, or I might not. If anyone gave me a hard time about that I would probably laugh in their face, but nobody ever has.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:45 PM on September 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just say six years. It's a general question. They are not writing your biography. Tell the people on your social circle to get a life. It doesn't sound like you were apart for even one year out of those six.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:09 PM on September 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

I would use the more recent date for the relationship "anniversary," but then also put the date of your actual first date on your timeline.
posted by rue72 at 5:20 AM on September 29, 2014

I would go with six years, or, if you want (and there is no need to do this), you could say six years for our dating anniversary but we have been serious about it for 2 1/2 years.

Mr. gudrun and I have kind of a weird history as well, since we have been married for X years but dated and then lived together for many years prior, and there was a year long breakup to add to the mix. We just say we have been married for X years, but have known each other since the year 19YY, to indicate a bit better the extent of our relationship.
posted by gudrun at 5:47 AM on September 29, 2014

"On and off for six years, but we've been together for good for four years."
posted by Liesl at 6:51 AM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

"We first started dating 6 years ago!" - honest, but doesn't specifically mention breakups, which can be an awkward thing to reference in a casual conversation. Anyone who further inquires about how much of the 6 years exactly you were dating is being a little boorish.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:37 AM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

We've known each other for X years.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:35 AM on September 29, 2014

"Six years, more or less."
posted by delight at 12:13 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

You don't have to put the exact date on Facebook. Put the year of your first first-date; that's your first of several anniversaries. You can post a status on the anniversaries in question, acknowledging whatever event it is. "Four years since we got back together" or that kind of thing.

Why does your social circle care beyond the generalities? Are events in dispute? What business is it of theirs?
posted by RainyJay at 2:24 PM on September 29, 2014

Oh god i hate this question. I'm in a very, very similar relationship for almost as long.

We both just measure it from the first time we started dating, and ignore the breaks in the middle. It allows us to give a simple answer to this question that nosy people won't question/dig on, and it's really none of their goddamn business anyways.

Our friends all know the deal, and don't even really talk about it. Anyone who would actually ask? it's not their business anyways.
posted by emptythought at 5:45 PM on September 29, 2014

The one thing is to have an answer to the question you can both agree on.

Oddly enough, in my social circle, people do really care about this.

It seems like your social circle has some particular way they feel you should answer in your circumstance.

You will discover what that is by talking with them, not asking on metafilter. We don't know your friends, you do.
posted by yohko at 6:25 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Relationship stories aren't history, they're poetry. And in poetry, the truth is more important than the facts.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:20 AM on October 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

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