Have you been seeing someone on the regular who satisfies one critical need in your life (hint: sex)? Are they a part of your life out of utter convenience? Despite having seen them naked, do you find yourself perplexed as to what to call this person?
Like a store-bought potato, this person is completely unremarkable in every way -- except for his or her role as filler of that sexual void (which is hopefully where the potato similarities end). If they want to have sex, they text you; if you want to have sex, you text them. If either one of you ignores the text, it’s kinda just... fine.
In 21st-century dating, there is no such thing as black and white. Only gray, sweaty haze. And often within that haze, you’ll find yourself staring at the person you’ve just finished sleeping with and pondering “what the hell are we?”
Believe it or not, there’s a clear answer.
You've got yourself a WELP
What’s a WELP? It stands for “Without Established Labels Person” and you can now apply it to the dude or lady who’s currently blowing up your phone with the phrase “hey u up??” You don’t hang out in the daytime. You don’t call each other on the phone to check in. You’re not friends. A WELP differs from the myriad other categories for sexual partners out there by proudly declaring that a label, in fact, does not necessarily matter when it comes to somebody you’re having sex with.
A WELP is not a “fuck buddy,” because there’s no “buddy” with your WELP. You don't have adorable little inside jokes with this person. You probably don’t even know their middle name.
A WELP is a testament to the transience of the 21st-century dating scene in the sense that neither party would really give a flying shit if the other fell off the face of the Earth. If a dildo or a Fleshlight became sentient and gained access to an iPhone, then that would be the closest possible comparison.
A WELP is not a boyfriend or girlfriend, because you simply don’t want to date them. You’re certainly not talking about anything interesting with someone who’s in your life for the sole purpose of an orgasm and it’s hard to believe that a meaningful connection can grow from a few lackluster pumps and groans over the course of a few months.
WELP isn't so much a label as it is a time-saver
Labels serve a necessary function in the dating ecosystem, because they draw the lines of a relationship and decide where two people who sleep together go after they’re done sleeping together. If your person “doesn’t believe in labels,” flip-flops on the idea of labels, or doesn’t bring up making anything official at all, congratulations: you’ve got a WELP, which is so much faster to say!
See, declaring a WELP celebrates the act of casual sex without any restrictions, which, as you may have heard, much to the horror of your grandparents, is how many people are doing it nowadays. There are 50 million users on Tinder at any given time and it’s hard to believe that -- of the 1 billion swipes that happen on the daily -- 999,999,999 will evolve into a loving relationship. So, what do we make of all these in-between people who make us sigh “welp...” right after a lackluster sexual performance?
Well, the answer is in the exhale.
The WELP checklist
If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, then there’s an increasingly high chance you’re with a WELP, someone who’s a part of your life for the sole purpose of sex who could disappear tomorrow and leave you in little to no distress.
1. Did you meet this person on Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, or anything else that could be classified as an app primarily used to locate someone to bang?
2. Was the goal of sex established within the first 10 to 20 minutes of conversation?
3. Could the sex be rated anywhere in the vicinity of “decent” to “satisfactory"?
4. Do most of your sexual encounters happen in the late hours of night solely when alcohol is introduced into either party’s system?
5. Do you have zero intentions of introducing this person to your friends, neighbors, parents, coworkers, siblings, distant relatives, or coffee shop baristas?
6. If this person was kidnapped, would it take you more than a month to notice?
7. When you finally did notice, would you experience a feeling along the lines of how you might feel if your neighbor’s friend’s sister’s cat went missing?
8. Is it safe to say that neither one of you knows the other’s middle name?
9. When you close your eyes and think really, really hard, do you still have kind of a hard time picturing this person’s face?
Embrace the WELP -- for a while
WELPs are a product of our generation. The truth is, there’s just far less pressure to commit to someone RIGHT now than there was even 10 years ago. More importantly, the search to find someone new after your last relationship crumbles has remarkably declined since the launch of the dating app. How hard is it to find a new prospect after your old one fizzles you out for someone taller? About as hard as picking up your phone and swiping right.
While the pressure of finding a certain someone special may have lessened, the pressure to attach a label to anyone and everyone who enters your romantic life really hasn’t. This is a plea for you to forego society’s conventional labels and embrace our non-label label. Embracing a person as a WELP just means saying "yes" to your recklessness, your youth, and the glorious lack of responsibilities that you’ll have until you propose on bended knee or accidentally make a baby (be careful out there!)
Allow your WELP to exist in the same way you let American cheese or The Big Bang Theory exist: they’re just placeholders. A last-resort cheese for a mediocre sandwich, or a TV show that you watch because the remote control recently exploded. Don’t be afraid of what the proverbial neighbors will think and let yourself be physically satisfied until one or both people lose interest. A WELP is a celebration of mediocrity with the added bonus that someday, someone will put both of you out of your misery.
And in the meantime, if someone gets wind of your repeated late-night rendezvous and asks what the deal is? Just look back, shrug your shoulders, and say it confidently.
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Jeremy Glass is a writer for Thrillist and thinks he's so damn clever for thinking of this acronym.