How does one call a relationship between two people that isn’t quite a relationship? That is how the term “thing” originated. This extremely eclectic one syllable word is used to remove the worries of commitment. There is no way to really describe a thing, yet this teenage culture mutates the word to apply to their fear of relationships and labels.

The rules of having a thing vary from person to person, and hence many end poorly. Everyone, including Urban Dictionary and Yahoo! Answer searches, have completely contrasting ideas of what a thing really is. You would think that when two people have feelings for each other and have communicated them, there would be no question as to if they are committed or not. The “thing” concept opens up the idea of having feelings, communicating them, but easily having an excuse of something like “We weren’t dating though.”

The labels of boyfriend and girlfriend also create anxiety. Many teenagers are constantly looking for either a way out or a way into a relationship without actually committing to that person. Both parties are frightened of commitment, but both usually end with broken hearts and awkward encounters.

Having a “thing” can be convenient in some situations. It is a great way to test out the relationship without promising anything, and hopefully lead into something more. It also hypothetically limits the amount of feelings that are hurt when the “relationship” ends, since both people know the light-heartedness of a “thing” going into it.

But no one really knows the limits of a thing, so what stops someone from having multiple things at once? It is easy to abuse the rules when the rules do not exist. A “thing” gives power to the cheaters and punishes the rule-followers, and while commitment seems scary and painful, a big mess of jumbled feelings and confusing rules hurt way more.