Let’s Talk: Microships

Somewhere on the abyss of the Internet I discovered a new word: Microship.

As I’ve come to understand it, a microship is a relationship that falls somewhere between friends with benefits and a proper commitment. It’s not just friends with a physical connection; it includes an emotional element too. Just not one that’s necessarily exclusive or fully developed.

It’s become common practice for twentysomethings and millennials to invent words for their behaviors. “Sext” wasn’t a word until texting became popularized circa the mid-2000s and “chatting” only came into daily use with the rise of Snapchat in 2011.

And all of these new words are, of course, preferable to actually defining a relationship by the old terms. Gone are the days of “going steady” or simply “dating.” Even the definition of “friends with benefits” has gotten a little murky!

No, instead of defining our relationships for what they actually are – commitments or lost causes – we invented the word “microship.”

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve found myself in this situation in the past. For someone as self aware as I am, you would think that I’d be smart enough to avoid the trap of indecisiveness that seems necessarily connected to a microship. But things aren’t always as clear when you’re in the moment.

Perhaps you started as friends, but realized over time that emotions were involved. Perhaps one person was more invested than the other. Should you ignore the impact that that partner has had on your romantic past just because you were never “officially” together? I don’t think so. I believe that our romantic pasts are no longer just a string of exes; we’re affected by our microships, too.

The invention of the term microship doesn’t do much to improve the reputation of millennials. If anything, it only further proves our inability to follow traditional romantic paths and settle down like generations prior. But we aren’t like our parents. We’ve grown up in a world vastly affected by technology and social change; of course we’re going to do things differently. And that includes our relationships. So if that means inventing new words for new behaviors, even if it doesn’t reflect well on us, well then so be it.

And at the very least, it makes me feel a little better. I’m not really a black and white person, nor does my relationship fit into black and white terms. It’s kind of nice to have another word to describe a shade of gray.


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