Just a couple decades ago it seemed as though there was a limited number of ways that a romantic relationship could be defined. Either two people were dating, they weren’t, or they were a couple. But since then romantic relationships have evolved. In the process of this romantic liberation things got a bit messy. Nowadays two people having a good time with each other don’t feel as obligated to define their dynamic. If they do slap a label on their relationship, it’s likely to be one that wasn’t common just a few decades ago.
While some people are fine being swept up by romance without worrying about articulating it, others crave a lucid understanding of their relationship. But broaching the talk, requires a certain level of tact and emotional intelligence. Discussing and defining “what we are” will likely be the most delicate conversation in your nascent relationship. Answering the question of “are we dating” is made much easier when the following advice is heeded and implemented.
Read Her Mind
If you’ve already gone on a number of dates with her, this shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. Looking inside the mind of a woman doesn’t require super powers. Before having the “what are we” talk, comb through your memories to find any signs that point towards the type of relationship she wants. Does she talk about other guys around you or has she hinted at introducing you to her parents or friends? Advertently or not, she’s already notified you of her intentions. Now all you’ve got to do is read the signs.
Having a realistic idea of how she’ll respond when you broach the question of “are we dating” will make the conversation go smoothly. Going into the discussion with the expectation that she’ll be okay with being friends with benefits, but discovering that she wants something more serious is a sure-fire way to throw a wrench in a relationship.
Let’s say you were ambushed by the conversation. You’ve enjoyed goofing off with your new fling and have been so swept up in enjoying her that you haven’t given any thought to how you’d go about defining the relationship.
Considering she brought up the topic, she’ll reveal her cards first. She’s flushed with infatuation and wants to get serious together. Being that you’re probably a nice guy, your instinct reaction will be to mirror her desires, even if they’re not true.
Instead of making her happy for the moment only to reveal your true feelings later, be upfront and tell her how you feel. To avoid any awkwardness, tell her the truth, but don’t try to define the relationship then and there. Tell her how much you’ve enjoyed your time together and that you obviously want to keep seeing her, but you need time to think about in what capacity. Giving yourself that time to think is a smart way of avoiding a blunder that could get you in trouble down the road.
Explain Your Rational
No matter your answer to the question, “are we dating” be prepared to explain your reasoning. Should you both be on the same page, you two will probably be so overjoyed that you skip over this part. Explaining your thoughts in-depth will most likely come into play if you two are on different wavelengths. This is when you’ll have to choose your words wisely and explain yourself in-depth so that she understands where you’re coming from. Let’s diagnose a couple of scenarios:
Scenario One: She Wants Exclusivity; You Want To Keep Things Open
This is a tough one. She just poured her heart out and told you that she’s caught the love bug and you responded by telling her she isn’t the one. It sounds harsh initially, but once you’ve explained your position she might feel a big better.
The reason you’re MegaDating multiple women is because you’re trying to figure out what you look for in a partner. Dating one girl and jumping at the first person that opens herself to you would be settling.
Instead, you date more than one woman because you’re looking for a deep and meaningful connection. Once that connection has been found you’ll throw everything you’ve got into that relationship.
Tell her that the last thing you’d want to do is commit without being 100% certain about that commitment. Jumping into a relationship prematurely could have ramifications in the future such as divorce, lack of fulfillment, and infidelity. End by reiterating the point that only by dating multiple women with varying personalities can you figure out what you’re attracted to in a partner.
Scenario Two: You Want Exclusivity; She Wants To Keep Things Open
Now the roles have been reversed. After dating for a while you’ve come to realize that she’s better than the rest. She’s the one that makes you want to delete all the dating apps and ditch the bar-hopping on Fridays for a more domestic life. Sadly, these feelings aren’t reciprocated. That’s cool. There may or may not be hope yet.
Tell her why you like her. Tell her what distinguishes her from the other girls. Do you like how she carries herself, her sense of humor, or her weird affinity for the Mexican-American War? Don’t keep these things inside just because she might not like you the same way. Telling her why you find her appealing will make her like you even more.
The most important thing to keep in mind when gushing to your unrequited lover is to play it cool. This means don’t get anxious or annoyed that she isn’t responding how you wanted her to. Speak slowly and clearly. What’s important is not letting your emotions run wild. Present yourself in a calm manner that suggests that you’re in control. The feeling of control will come naturally to you if you ready yourself for a response you didn’t want to receive. Playing through the worst-case scenario in your head like a movie will give you a script to read off.
The blow of rejection can also be mitigated if you do MegaDate. MegaDating teaches you that there are plenty of women out there worthy of your affection. Rebounding can’t be that hard if you’ve already got a first date lined up for Wednesday.
What Are We? Talk It Out in Person
What are we, or are we dating, are not casual questions. Perhaps these questions are introduced in a casual manner, but that doesn’t mean that they should be answered as such. Most likely she’ll bring the question up via text. Tell her that such a topic merits a sit-down conversation and that it’s best to talk it out in person. Don’t push the topic away and hope it never pops back up. Address it immediately and provide her with a TDL.
Picking where to have the conversation is just as important as choosing where to go on a first date. Ditch the café or restaurant and opt for a place that offers privacy. You don’t want the conversation inhibited by onlookers or intrusive neighbors. Pick a tranquil place such as a botanical garden or park to talk about your future.
Dialoguing in person will ensure that nothing gets lost in translation. There’s only so much that can be conveyed through text or Facetime. Talking face to face will give you access to a range or emotions and tools that will assist you when communicating.
Is “the talk” even necessary? Talking about something as sensitive as defining a relationship is bound to be at least a little awkward. Is it possible that “what we are” has already been defined implicitly? No, stop that thought process right now.
Through veiled gestures of affection we sometimes feel as though we’re on the same page with the person we’re romantically involved with. Perhaps you two only spend time with each other after 11 p.m. rolls around. Your chief activity is intercourse and apart from that you two don’t converse much. All the signs point to this being a friends with benefits dynamic, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Maybe you’ve just made the assumption and are too afraid to mess up a good thing.
Romantic signs or not, the only way you’ll know for sure what you two are is if the dynamic has been explicitly defined. Without an upfront discussion you’ll be left with an amorphously defined relationship.
Remember to not enter into the “are we dating” talk assuming that you two are on the same page. Plan for the unexpected so that you’re not disappointed when her feelings don’t align with yours.
Talk It Out in Segments
The dreaded ‘relationship talk’ doesn’t need to be a looming threat to your relationship. Instead of putting all the emphasis on a single talk, why not have multiple? Without even knowing it, you’ve already had the talk with the person you’re dating. If you’ve met on a dating application at least one of you broadcasted your intentions through the application. Check her Tinder profile. Did she write, “not looking for anything serious”? That’s talk number one.
Other talks may manifest themselves by way of future plans. Do you or her plan on moving out of the city anytime soon? Or does she keep talking about wanting to find Mr. Right and settle down in the Bay Area? Have you or her mentioned going out with other guys? Directly having the talk is a daunting prospect. People may chip away at this fear by sidling up to the conversation.
If being obsequious in your intent to learn of your date’s intentions isn’t cutting it, be direct. Ask her point blank from day one, what are you looking for? Follow up on her every couple dates or so to make sure that you two are on the same page. Stretch “the talk” into a series of casual talks about your relationship.
Don’t Force It
There’s no reason to feel obligated to have the “are we dating” talk after a certain amount of dates. There are no rules in place that determine when romantic milestones should be reached. If the urge hits you, set a TDL and talk it out. But don’t let outside forces such as friends and parents pressure you into giving shape to an enjoyable relationship.
Make Sure The Label Means the Same Thing To Both Parties
Over time, certain labels have lost their meaning. What does it mean to be “dating” someone? If two people are dating does that mean that they can’t date anyone else? Does dating imply exclusivity and a boyfriend-girlfriend dynamic? Just because you two have settled on a label doesn’t mean the relationship has been defined. Don’t just stick a label on the relationship and walk away. Create a dynamic that works for the both of you. Only end the conversation when you two have a decent enough understanding of the relationship so as to avoid conflicts in the future.
When, how, and why you should have the “are we dating” talk is up to you. If you’re at all apprehensive of the talk to come, feel free to consult with me via a 1-on-1 new client Skype session where I’ll walk you through what you should expect from your “what are we” chat. We’ll also spend some time diagnosing your dating history, creating an action plan, and discussing if my 3-month coaching program is right for you.