Various degrees of relationship in Indonesian language explained

Today I'm going to introduce to you a cultural element you may find in Indonesian language: various degrees of relationship ranging from "friendship" to "dating".

Oh well, we're going to skip the marriage part; as I think that it should be obvious already. And for information, I'm only going to discuss it from a Boy-Girl relationship point of view, and not by any homosexual/polygamous one.

Hope you find this article useful!

1. Kenalan (Acquaintance)

This is the kind of relationship you maintain either with those whom you know by name only, or those you contact once every few months (or years). In Facebook, these are the people whose friend request you have accepted (yet you vaguely know him/her).

2. Rekan (Colleague)

The relationship you maintain only to those whom you know in professional life. They are merely work partners, nothing more.

3. Teman (Friend)

~Should be obvious~

4. Sahabat (Best friend)

~Should be obvious too~

5. Teman Tapi Mesra (Platonic friend, lit. "intimate friend")

This is largely a unique Indonesian term, which means that the cultural comprehensiveness of Teman Tapi Mesra (TTM) is much more confined to the Indonesian language and could not be translated accurately into English or any other language.

TTM is the kind of relationship you have with a friend of an opposite sex whom you like platonically. Meaning; both of you could maintain an extremely close relationship, yet the feeling of jealousy and possessiveness are both absent.

Most of the time, TTM is used by singles who maintain close relationship with many individuals of the opposite sex; yet not ready to make any commitment to a single one.

X. Saudara angkat ("adopted sibling")

Now this is a controversial term.

It is controversial in the sense that the element of "love" usually exists in this kind of relationship, and may cause jealousy to your date if you happen to also have a significant other.

That aside, if your Indonesian significant other claims to have a "saudara angkat", this means that he/she loves her/him in the way someone loves his/her sibling.

Now since the difference between TTM and Saudara angkat is thin, we need to draw a line between those two. Which is why it is sandwiched between TTM and HTS (yet unnumbered; notice the X?)

A TTM could turn into "saudara angkat", but once two persons have decided to become adopted siblings, both of them are committed to turn into lifelong siblings and they have ruled out the possibility of dating each other, ever.

See the difference?

TTM could turn into a HTS (and eventually, dating too), but once two individuals of differing genders decide to adopt each other as siblings, they don't get into any deeper relationship than that.

Saudara angkat will always remain that way, no matter what.

6. Hubungan Tanpa Status (Status-less relationship)

HTS... This is the kind of relationship you maintain when you're undecided!

Both of you know that the other guy/girl loves you and you return the same feeling yet for some undisclosed reasons, the two of you decide to stop there and not continue your relationship any deeper.

However, it is a kind of problematic relationship too.

I strongly suggest that when you are engaged in a HTS kind of relationship, please do not prolong such a relationship for too long. You should either just say it out loud with either one of these two phrases below:

"Will you go steady with me?"


"What about if we remain as friends?"

Either one of the two questions above will give you a definitive answer, whether you will remain as friends or getting serious with her/him.

I tell you what, this kind of relationship could hurt both sides a lot.


It is because when you are engaged in HTS relationship, you know that you like each other yet the element of "commitment" is absent. The line between HTS and Pacaran (see below) is defined on the presence of "commitment alone".

And when you are not in any way committed to your HTS, you are free to hang out with any friends of the opposite sex and vice versa.

7. Pacar (Significant other)

~Should be kinda obvious, eh?~

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