Are we in a relationship? It is a question that can drive you nuts but actually isn’t that hard to answer if you know how.
Dating someone new brings with it a bundle of emotions: excitement, anxiety, confusion, and happiness. When things are going well and you really like the person you’re seeing, you want to know what you are. Are we seeing each other casually? Are we exclusive? Are we in a relationship?
Why you should define a relationship
To some, it may seem wrong to put a label on things when it comes to romance, but it makes sense. We define these things so we can feel secure.
Knowing what you mean to one another, even with a label, helps you have a sense of security. It shows you a bit more clearly how you feel about each other.
It tells you how you want to present each other to the world. Defining a relationship is an important step. It guides you into the future. Are you going to meet each other’s families or keep things on the down-low?
And the thing is, even if you think it is a relationship in all the traditional ways, it may not be. You can’t truly know without answering the question: are we in a relationship?
I’m sure you’ve come to this article because you don’t want to ask the person you’re dating if you’re in a relationship. You don’t want to seem too eager or needy. You don’t want to get the answer you’re dreading.
It isn’t just a way to protect yourself from being vulnerable or being rejected. It is also a way to avoid communication. By avoiding that, you are halting the potential this possible relationship has.
For me, avoiding asking this question has kept me in situations I didn’t want, for far too long. I would continue dating someone while feeling unbearably confused just to avoid seeming too needy.
I didn’t want to act like I wanted a relationship unless I knew he wanted one too. Sometimes we are so scared of the answer to this question that we stay in a state of unknowing rather than getting a clear answer.
But, just because not asking “are we in a relationship” has its reasons, it doesn’t mean they are any good.
Avoiding this conversation can lead to heartbreak and unhappiness. It is always better to know the truth so you can move forward one way or another. Not finding out if you are in a relationship and what that means for you two can keep you frozen in a dance of uncertainty. [Read: The struggles of meeting the right person at the wrong time]
How to answer “are we in a relationship?”
It is scary to be so upfront with how you’re feeling and what you want, but it is needed to truly get the answer to this question.
But, this is also a big step. Defining what you are is a checkpoint or hurdle of sorts. Once you have the answer, things can change. They can get more serious and you can have a lot of relationship milestones.
#1 Do it in person. This conversation should ever happen via text, phone call, or even FaceTime. Being able to fully communicate is so important and doing it in person helps you get your point across, really feel your emotions, and read the other person’s reaction.
#2 Be clear about what you want. Don’t go in with an ultimatum, but don’t just ask what you are without letting them know what you’re looking for. Asking such a loaded question without offering how you feel can seem like a trap.
Your partner may think you are scared and don’t want a relationship. They don’t know if you think you’re moving too fast or too slow. A great way to ask is by first offering up what you think. Say something like, “I love spending time with you and think we’re great together. I was hoping we could define things more clearly moving forward.” [Read: What is a normal relationship supposed to be like? The real truth]
#3 Give them time to think about it. But not too much time. They may have not seen this question coming. Some people, particularly those that aren’t planners, but rather live in the moment, may not think about labels and define things like you do. That is okay as long as you let them know how you feel.
Give them the time they need to decide if they want a relationship or want to move a bit slower. No more than a week should be necessary for them to let you know what they want. You may be able to meet in the middle and compromise. But, in some cases, they may ask for time to just procrastinate answering. [Read: How to talk to someone about your relationship – DTR made easy]
They may love being with you but aren’t ready to commit and don’t want to communicate that. They may want to keep you around along with the benefits of a relationship without actually being in one.
#4 Feel out their vibe. This can be hard to do without a decent amount of relationship experience, but it can help you bring up the topic at the right time. You don’t want to just blurt this out during a movie or dinner. Ease into this conversation at the right time.
#5 Talk about what being in a relationship means to you. Just saying you’re in a relationship is not always enough. Leaving this conversation with that answer can feel like a great relief and excitement in the moment, but by the next morning, you will still have questions.
Are you going to be posting each other on your Instagram? Are you meeting the parents? What does being in a relationship mean to you? Are you fully exclusive? Are you spending holidays together?
#6 Look for red flags. Are they lying? Are they telling you the truth and you don’t want to hear it? I’ve been in both of these situations. I had a guy tell me he also wanted a relationship and then pull the rug out from under me because he wasn’t really sure.
I’ve also had a guy tell me he didn’t want anything serious but I drove myself to denial and pretended I could change his mind. Look for red flags that will give you your answer. Do they only see you after 10 pm? Have they avoided meeting your friends or introducing you to theirs? You may already have your answer. [Read: The grey area of dating exclusively but not in a relationship]
#7 Don’t settle. So, are you still wondering, are we in a relationship? You’ve got your answer. Is it the one you wanted? You may think it is mature to compromise on this, but settling on something this important is not healthy. If you know you want a relationship that will grow and get deeper and closer, but your partner said they want something casual, settling will keep you unhappy.
No guy or girl is worth lowering your standards. You know what you want from a romantic partner and deserve that.