The ‘what are we’ talk is that defining moment where you find out if you and your man are exclusively seeing each other aka. boyfriend/girlfriend. I’ve spoken to many women who come out of these talks disappointed with the outcome. When they replay the events and conversations that unfolded, I began to see a pattern. Though all the men on the other side of the conversation had various of reasons for not wanting a more serious relationship, the women who were disappointed all did similar things:
However, the conversations don’t always go pear shaped. Sometimes when you’re truly present and enjoying the course of a relationship, things just take its course.
Example: Jacklyn and Adam
Jacklyn and Adam met through mutual friends. They were both from the same hometown and hit it off right away. They spent about 6 months in each other’s pockets. They planned to travel together months ahead. All was going well. Jacklyn felt confident in her relationship. Adam didn’t do anything to convince her otherwise. At the 6 month mark, she started to wonder if they were official. But she didn’t want to ask or put pressure on Adam. Her friends had other intentions. When Adam arrived to meet Jacklyn’s friends for the first time, a friend opened the door, greeted him and asked him if he was Jacklyn’s boyfriend. He said yes and the rest was history.
When a connection is strong and two parties have expressed how they feel about each other, it’s assumed that they are exclusively seeing each other. But I don’t like to leave things to chance. In modern dating, it’s assumed that unless you confirm exclusivity, the other person is still free to see other people. When I met first met my husband, I knew we were both in it for the long haul. When we first met, we were both seeing other people. As we grew closer, those other dates dwindled. On one date, he told me he was only going to see me from now on and hope I was doing the same. I wasn't quite ready yet but a few weeks of courtship later, I didn’t want to see anyone else. One afternoon, we were lying on the bed just chatting when I told him I wasn’t planning on seeing other guys. He replied and said: “you know what that means…it means you’re my girlfriend”. Just like that, we were a couple.
When two people are going in the same direction, the talk isn’t tough to initiate. It just flows. Conflict or awkwardness only comes when one party isn’t ready.
If you don’t know if your guy is ready for something more, how you initiate the talk can make a world of difference in the outcome of the conversation.
When to have the ‘what are we’ talk
These kinds of conversations are all about timing. Pick a time where you both are relaxed. I usually suggest doing this over a weekend where neither parties are bringing the stress of a workday into a conversation.
Don’t pre-empt the conversation by telling a guy you need to ‘talk to him’. It has negative connotations and suggests something isn’t right. Keep it as light and playful as possible. Experts often suggest having these chats side by side. Opt to have a light conversation in the car or walking.
How to talk to your man about commitment
Before we dive into this, let’s remember that a relationship is a two way street. Where many women go wrong is that when it’s time to have the talk about commitment, they climb into the driver’s seat in a relationship. They dominate the conversation and often this pushes men into a corner that they aren’t comfortable in.
To have the talk you want to create a safe emotional space for a man. To help him feel that he won’t be ‘wrong’ or an ‘asshole’ for telling the truth. At the core of a man’s heart is a need to please a woman, if they feel like they can’t do that, they will withdraw. It doesn’t make them feel good about themselves which is why it’s so important to create a space where he can freely speak about his thoughts.
There are several ways you can start this conversation -
The light and playful way:
“How many dates have we been on now? I feel like I see you more than I see my flatmate. =). Everyone’s asking me if you’re my boyfriend. Are you my boyfriend?”
“I love it when you [insert thing he does that you love]. It’s such a thing a boyfriend would do. Don’t you think?”.
Why this works:
You’re leaving the conversation open by asking him a question. How he responds to the question will tell you a lot about where his headspace is at. You’ll either get a straight answer or you’ll find he’ll laugh and shrug it off. If that’s the case, you can take the honest and open approach the next time the conversation comes up:
The honest and open way:
“I’ve loved spending time with you and have been thinking about spending more time with you and not anyone else. What do you think?”
“It’s been so great getting to know you. I think I’d like to stop seeing other people and see how this goes. I just wanted to see what you may be thinking”.
Why this works:
You’re sharing your feelings about what you want in a relationship without pressuring him to do the same. Asking him what he thinks gives him a safe space to speak his mind. In a situation like this, it’s always good to ask an open ended question rather than a yes/no question.