The concept of dating continues to evolve on a daily basis. There was a time when saying you liked someone or claimed them as yours would instantly imply that you’re in a relationship. If only it were that easy in this day and age.
These days, both men and women want to keep their options open. Everyone is perpetually expecting the person who will complete them. On the other hand, those who aren’t so idealistic and steeped with romanticism are waiting for a person that they can stand being with for the rest of their lives.
When they arrive at a point where a soul mate still hasn’t visited the local pub, they settle for the next best thing – the next person who comes around. What happens next is that people get stuck in relationships that don’t make them happy. [Read: 12 obvious signs you’ve got commitment issues]
Why do people need to have the relationship talk?
The relationship talk is a conversation where two people decide whether they want to start committing to each other. It is a three-part session that needs to cover all the necessary concerns. It doesn’t mean that you are about to plan the mechanics and logistics of your future together, but it does help you discuss your needs, fears and expectations.
#1 You have to establish whether you are exclusive or not. Some open relationships work temporarily, but you have to think very hard if you are the type of person who can handle that. [Read: Do you have it in you to keep up with an open relationship?]
#2 You will inevitably ask about your label. Some people are uncomfortable with labels, while some find it necessary to confirm whether they are boyfriend-and-girlfriend or just seeing each other. Both of these have different connotations that need to be discussed in detail.
#3 You need to know whether you are both open to the possibility of a future together. Some people are upfront about their needs in a relationship. However, you need to learn about it immediately to minimize the risk of getting hurt, especially when it turns out that your partner just wants to see you for a few months.
Why do people need to ease in to the relationship talk?
With the thoughts above in mind, it’s not surprising that relationships don’t start immediately. Everyone wants to cover their bases and make sure that they are in fact seeing someone worth being in a relationship with.
Dating is the prerequisite of every modern relationship. When you start seeing someone, it does not necessarily mean that you are boyfriend and girlfriend. You have to spend time together and see if you click. When that doesn’t happen, you can freely move on to your next prospect.
When this type of situation seems to be going well, it’s understandable that you need to establish exclusivity and have the freedom to express your feelings.
When do you need to have the relationship talk?
This is the tricky part. After your first date, you will start to think about the possibility of a future with your date. You are only allowed to think. You are not allowed to ask about it. That just scares people away and makes them think that you’re desperate. So, when is it okay to ask them if you’re essentially “together”?
#1 When you’ve been out on more than a few dates. Yes, some people establish relationships immediately after they start going out. They just have that spark. When there’s none, you have to wait it out and see if you two work well together. There is no specific number of dates that you need to go on. What you’re waiting for is the feeling that you want to know where you two are going on a long-term basis.
#2 When they’ve met your friends or family. This does not mean the awkward encounter with your roommate the morning after. You need to set up a legitimate meeting with your date and your friends in order for them to get to know each other better. By allowing other people in on your situation, you are establishing that you are ready to tell people that you are seeing each other.
#3 When someone else asks you out. Because there hasn’t been a relationship talk, you and your partner are free to date other people. Don’t adhere to the assumption that because you dated that one time, you are automatically together. People get hurt because of this, especially when the other person has always assumed that relationship talks are needed in order to determine exclusivity. [Read: Are you just an option to the person whom you treat as a priority?]
#4 When you’ve slept together. One night stands don’t count, so don’t start asking whether you’re boyfriend and girlfriend after sleeping with a person on the first date. If you took your time in getting to know the person, and decided the time was right to sleep with them, you need to tell them that you need to have the relationship talk. Sex is a big deal for most people and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. [Read: 10 cardinal rules of a successful casual relationship]
#5 When you start to care. Everybody starts to care more about the person they’re seeing at some point. You have to learn to distinguish the difference between human compassion and undeniable affection. When you start to feel warm and fuzzy inside, then you can make the jump to relationship territory. [Read: How to tell a special someone you love them without losing them]
#6 When you get pregnant or get someone pregnant. This needed to be on the list for obvious reasons, but some will say that it’s either unnecessary or very necessary. My point is that people have different views on the idea of getting a person pregnant.
Some cultures require you to get married immediately, while many opt for the safest route – discussing the future. This includes deciding whether you care enough about each other to continue the relationship, while still contemplating the mechanics of the unplanned conception.
#7 When the skeletons in the closet are revealed. There are different kinds of secrets that can make or break a relationship. Before you meet the love of your life, it’s understandable that they might have gone through some pretty serious stuff. It’s your prerogative to decide whether a relationship is still on the table, when you realize the heavy ramifications of a person’s past. This could be a drug problem, a traumatic event, a wedding ceremony in Vegas during college or something else that is hard to divulge on a first date.
#8 When you see or feel that the person you’re seeing is not making an effort. If this were an uncomplicated situation, you could decide here and now that a person that’s not making an effort isn’t worth the wait. Still, you should ask the person you’re dating whether they have any plans of pursuing this endeavor. Who knows? They might just be a bit shy or still confused about what they want out of the two of you.
#9 When you decide to move a few weeks into the dating phase. The few dates you have could have been the best you’ve ever had. If circumstances force you to relocate during the courtship, you have to talk about whether you want to continue a long distance relationship or not.
#10 When you practically live together. Even if you’ve never discussed your arrangement, but still ended up being together for more than 12 hours a day, you need to voice out your concerns. Just because you spend a lot of time together does not mean that your partner has decided on a commitment.
[Read: 19 sure signs you’re ready for a serious relationship]
These days, people can’t assume anymore, because when they do, someone ends up getting hurt. This is why the relationship talk was invented. It is up to you to decide whether you are ready to talk about where you and your partner are headed, but it helps to know when it is appropriate to do so.
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