How to Have “The Talk” to Define Your Relationship post image

How to Have “The Talk” to Define Your Relationship


The first time I had “the talk” turned into more of a ridiculous display of exactly what not to do. I was in college and had been seeing this guy for a little over a month and had never felt so strongly for someone else, ever. We spent a ton of time together and I figured we were heading toward being “official” but it wasn’t a pressing matter on my mind, it just lingered in the depths.

That all changed one night when I introduced him to my friends for the first time. The night started out great, we had some drinks and went to a bar with some of his friends. But it all took a turn when me and my friends went to the bathroom to fix our faces and they started getting in my ear about how strange it was that he and I weren’t official yet, and what a bad sign that was. In addition to a fresh coat of powder and gloss, I left the bathroom with a giant chip on my shoulder.

Later that night, fueled by tequila and insecurity, I absolutely needed to know the status of our relationship, like right this second. As soon as he and I were alone back at his place, the tsunami brewing in my head all night came rushing forth, catching my guy completely off guard. In the end, I had no title and a severe lacking in dignity (those got washed away by a flood of drunk tears…the absolute worst kind of tears).

The relationship trudged on for some time, but the dynamic had completely changed. From then on he always felt out of my reach.  I wanted to be official and he wasn’t ready. The terms of the relationship became entirely his to dictate and I anxiously waited for him to pick me, while I tried to prove that I was good enough and worthy of being his girlfriend.

Okay, so now that you’ve seen an illustration of what not to do, let’s get concrete and talk about the right way to have the relationship-defining talk.

1. Try not to have it. That’s right, the best way to have the talk is to not! Relationships work best when you can just live in the moment and let things unfold naturally, without pressure or an agenda.

If it’s a good relationship, if you connect and genuinely get and appreciate each other, then it will just happen. And you won’t even feel that anxiety that comes from not knowing. When a guy likes you and wants to be with you, he’ll make sure you know it!

At the same time, be mindful to not act too much like his girlfriend before you actually are (this is one major mistake I made) and continue being a confident, independent woman who loves her life and doesn’t need a relationship to fill some sort of void.

MORE: 4 Relationship Rules to Live By

2. Give it some time. I would say wait about two to three months before getting into the title talk. Relationships take time to develop. At first you’re just getting to know each other and seeing how well you work as a unit. The relationship I described was moving at warped speed, but even still, a month isn’t all that long.

Don’t let other people tell you how your relationship should or shouldn’t be. Every relationship is a unique experience and moves at a different rate. However, I’d say three months is a pretty universal expiration date for feeling things out. By that point, you should have an idea of where things are headed.

3. Be clear on what you want before you go in. In my case, I wanted a committed relationship and instead settled for something that made me feel inadequate and kind of pathetic. And because I wasn’t fully clear on what I wanted, and what I would and would not settle for, I convinced myself that this non-relationship would suffice.

MORE: When a Guy Won’t Call You His Girlfriend

Before having the talk, or even getting serious with a guy you’re dating, decide what it is you really, truly want. When you recognize and admit what it is you want, you will be better able to move towards it. It is only when you’re confused and unsure that you settle for things you don’t want.

The truth is, most of the time you know what you want, you’re just afraid to admit it. Remember, you deserve to have the relationship you want and do not need to settle for the scraps someone else is willing to spare.

If what you want is a monogamous, committed relationship then there’s no shame it admitting that! Take a few days or even weeks to get clear on exactly what you want from a relationship. Let this information penetrate your being and embolden you. When you are solid in your convictions you will be able to come from a place of confidence and high self-worth, which ultimately sets the foundation for you to get what it is you want.

4. Don’t do it when you’re drunk or in an overly emotional state. I think my story attests to this one pretty well! The fact is, men typically do not respond well when a woman is coming at them from a place of emotion. They are much more logical and pragmatic in how they approach life and problems and are much more receptive when a woman comes to them from a place of strength and reason, as opposed to a crumbling emotional mess.

If you approach him when you’re feeling especially upset or unsettled about the situation, he won’t take what you say as seriously. Instead, he might dismiss you as a typical woman being overly emotional (or worse, ask you if you’re PMS-ing).

So if you must have the talk, make sure to do it when you are strong, clear-headed, and know exactly what it is you want. Don’t let your emotions consume you; be logical and straightforward. I’m not saying emotions are a bad thing, we’re women and our capacity to feel and express our emotions is also our greatest strength, but it’s just important to remember that men aren’t wired the same way and in some instances, coming from a place to strong emotion can cause your message to get lost in translation so it’s better to speak in a language he is better equipped to understand.

You should also mentally prepare yourself if you don’t get the response you want. If he says he doesn’t want to be official what will you do? Will you stay and wait it out? Walk away? Spend some time really considering the answers to these questions.

5. Do it casually. Do not open with the dreaded “we need to talk” line. Nothing sends chills up a guy’s spine faster than those four little words and he might immediately go on the defensive, or just shut down and withdraw.

Instead, just casually say something like, “You know, for the past few months I feel like you’ve been acting like my boyfriend, is that fair to assume?” Or ask if you could introduce him to your friends as your boyfriend. When it comes to these things, it’s best to just take a casual, light-hearted approach. If he really likes you, he will happily put a label on it. If he’s iffy or on the fence, he’ll stall or come up with excuses. Again, just make sure you don’t come at him from a needy or desperate place. Be a confident woman who knows she deserves an amazing, fulfilling relationship and isn’t afraid to pursue that…or walk away if a situation isn’t what she wants.

Also, this talk can only be had in person. Don’t do it via text, G-chat, or even over the phone.

6. Hear him out. So you’ve done everything mentioned above. You approached him in a confident, direct manner and conveyed to him in your own way that you want the relationship to be official. Now it’s his turn. Let him speak and express what’s on his mind and be open to hearing his point of view, even if it’s counter to your own or isn’t what you were hoping to hear.

Don’t blame or attack him for feeling the way he does, just acknowledge what he’s saying and tell him you understand where he’s coming from (and try to do this genuinely). If you start arguing or debating the matter it means you’re pushing him farther than he’s willing to go in the relationship at this point. And if he starts to feel attacked or blamed, he’ll shut down and will be even less likely to want to make it official.

In my situation, I heard what my guy was saying and his reasoning (basically it was that he had been burned by the girl he dated right before me and needed to go slow), but I didn’t take the time to really understand where he was coming from. Instead, I came from a selfish place and let my ego get way too involved. I didn’t consider his hurt or his pain, only my own and what it said about me that he didn’t want to be my official boyfriend.

I’m not saying you should agree with what your guy’s reasons for not wanting to be official, but it is important to at least try to understand it and have an open mind.

There you have it, the top tips for having the talk and getting the relationship you want. I know it’s scary, but think of it this way, either you’ll get what you want or you won’t, which isn’t as fun but at least it will free you up for a guy who is on the same page.

 

16 comments… add one

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Cat

Well I’ve been seeing this guy know for about over 4 years. In the beginning it started of as friends, then friends with benefits. He says he doesnt want a relationship, but tells me he does. Its always been a back and forth issue. When i have ask him to ( if you want me, then want me, if not then let me go). He then tells me he loves me and he needs me. One thing he did say ( you know we are more then friends). I ask ( what does that mean) he doesnt answer or respond to it. “Advold the question or tells me I’m insecure. He tells me, he doesnt like labels. His pass, he has been hurt twice i get it, but who hasn’t. I have caught him texting other women and telling them “we should have dinner or hang out sometime” . when i confront him and tell him if that what you want or if you want on open relationship. He’ll just tell me stop, relax, i love you, you know your my girl, i dont want that and so on….
Recently I’ve got him on his phone talking to another woman, he acted nervously. After he got off the phone he told me that i was wearing him out. And this is why he didn’t want a relationship. So calmly I told him to decide what would he like to do. He did say he wanted to end it. But still wanted to call me and hang out. Once I told him not to call me anymore. He didn’t like that idea too much. And then he started saying the things that he thought I wanted to hear.
I have told him that’s I no longer trust him. He just said ill earn your trust back. But everyone know once you lose trust it hard to get back.
But with all this said. I am more mad at myself then I am at him.
Why am I mad at myself? It’s because i let this go for so long, invested a lot of time and effort to this so-called relationship or non- relationship of mine.
I have read alot of articles and comments.
Some of them hit home and open my eyes.
He does know how much i love him but i have mention to him that just because I love you doesn’t mean I can’t let you go.
Does he act like a boyfriend? Yes, he’ll text me everyday. Ask me how’s work or my day is going. Invite me to every events. Met his family ( who all loves me) and friends. Alot of his co-workers knows of me. If i need help with anything he’ll offers to pay for it.
Do i think he loves me? Sometimes. But sometimes i think he just need me for support not financially but mental support and comfort. Just someone there he can count on. And have around.
I have no idea the people your age still goes thought these things. Mid forties you would think its time to grow up by now.
Please advise or comment would love to hear some.
Thank u

Reply July 28, 2016, 1:34 am

Christine

I’ve been dating this guy for 6 months now. We talk almost every day (sometimes we go a day him or myself gets busy) and have fun when we see each other (usually twice a month because we live an hour away and I have two kids). I want to know what we are not for my own insecurities but if I want to see him more often and that would involve me introducing him to my kids. This is something I’m not willing to do if the relationship isn’t going anywhere. How do I bring this up? He’s already told me he isn’t sleeping with anyone else and I trust him, he’s never lied to me and I just dropped the hint that he can leave some things at my place if he’d like so should I wait to see if he does or try and and bring it up? Thanks ladies!

Reply June 21, 2016, 2:36 am

Penni

This was such a strong text. You make such a clear point and it all makes sense. This was what I needed and I hope that all women in my situation will find this.

thanks a lot, Penni

Reply February 22, 2016, 2:18 pm

Makee

What’s your availability. How mobile are you

Reply February 7, 2016, 9:16 am

Kim

OH how I wish I’d read this yesterday before I opened my phone and probably sabotaged what could have been the most amazing relationship of my life before it had a chance to get off the ground. I turned into everything this article says not to be, and did everything this article says not to do (except being drunk). The whole convo took place via text…..and while I knew I was/am way more invested in D than he is in me, I still let it all spill out – talk about a recipe for disappointment. I really screwed up bad.
At least he did text me afterwards, keeping it nice and light, and when I apologized for dumping the feelings on him, he accepted the apology very nicely. *sigh*….I swore I wouldn’t push this wonderful man away from the time I became interested – and it looks like I did exactly what I’d tried not to do. He’s not ready for a relationship. I accepted that when we first began talking, so why am I turning into this needy emotional basket case now that he’s sticking to his guns and I just tossed mine aside? UGH!

Reply September 27, 2015, 6:37 pm

Kay

I’ve been dating this guy for about 6 months, but we have been talking for about 8-9 months tops. I’m sure he likes me a lot. We go to different colleges (he’s 2 hours away), but he visits me every 2-3 weeks. Over the summer we took a trip to Chicago and he met my best friend and we had a great time. I also met his best friend and his best friend’s gf. In the summer he would come visit me 1-3x a week or stay the whole weekend. We both had early morning jobs so we were on a kinda right schedule. Anyway, he gets kinda jealous when other guys talk to me and I’m not the jealous type, but I just wouldn’t want a female on my man. We talk to each other as much through the day as possible (texting all day and FaceTime at night) since its been 6 months since we really started getting involved with one another I feel like we both feel the same way, but we’re scared to admit it. He’s done so much for me though. He’s driving two hours to see me. Taking me on dates and a few really romantic and expensive dates. Buying me gifts and such. I feel like this is a relationship, but he just won’t say it. Another thing, he’s white and I’m black. So I feel like he’s scared to “out” our relationship because his parents are kinda racist. I want to be an exclusive couple, I’m just not sure how to ask or if it’ll probably backfire. I would love to take things further, but I’m really confused on if I should take this as a serious relationship or not.

Reply September 8, 2015, 3:55 am

Babygirl

I’m dating this guy for two months now but we only went out 4 times for few hours but we do communicate everyday by calling/texting. We aren’t officially bf and gf yet, although we talked about this thing already even before our third date. I am a single mom, and he admitted to me that he likes me and everything but what is really holding him back to become official with me at the moment us because he isn’t sure if he would be able to accept my situation having a son because it is his first time dating someone with a child. He knew I have a son already even before our first date but he said he does like me and that’s the reason why he gave it a go and he admitted he too was surprised that he managed to accept all these things now even if he did tell himself at first he probably won’t be able to be with someone who has a kid. And because I do understand his situation, I was the one who told him to just let the time decide as who knows one day he would be able to say, he is now ready to commit himself with someone like me who has a kid. And we both agreed on this. Nothing happened to both of us yet I mean sex, we kissed on the third and fourth date but that was it nothing more. He is a good guy and he do respect me a lot one of the reason why I’m still dating him until now.

The only reason why I’m here right now is because my feelings for him is getting deeper each day and im scared. What am I going to do? Should I tell him or will just wait until such time that he would tell me about his feelings of wanting to be official? But I don’t even know when would that be. The last time he told me, we’re getting there and he knows things will come up soon. But I just didn’t ask him anymore about it because I don’t wanna appear as someone who is desperate and that would probably push him away.

Please I need your opinions guys..

Reply December 26, 2014, 3:29 pm

louise

Hold the breaks and look at your feelings, i think you feel a lot more for him then he may feel for you. Like you said you have only been on four dates in two months. That’s not a very good sign in my past dating history. I would say be careful and approach the subject. My fella brought the subject up on our thrid date and. He freaked me out with the timing. Like you and you guy, i told him i wanted to take it slow. that was two months ago and i lost couny of our dates……..how long do your dates last? Hours? Less the an hour? Lunch time dates? Sometimes its quailty not quanity. he doesn’t sound like he’s ready for what you have. For what you’ve said I do t think he’s ready for what comes with you in a relationship. But who do I know, I have to define my relationship with my guy and I still don’t know what time to do it. But I agree three months sounds soild.

Reply June 30, 2015, 12:10 am

A

I can’t tell you how this email has made me feel. I recently had “the talk” with a guy I had been dating just over 3 months. I spent those 3 months cool, enjoying the moment and all that, then really realized that I want a committed relationship…no serious, but exclusive. I had done the talk via email bc I knew this was the only way I wouldn’t be “emotional”. We both went back and forth in a honest and mature way and ended up going our separate ways (he said he wasn’t ready to be exclusive with anyone now or in the near future). 9 days after we went our separate ways he unfollowed me on Instagram…that stung (I still follow him). I am a bit heart broken bc he is the first guy I’ve liked in a long time and was seriously doubting my decision of having “the talk” but your email confirmed that I made the right decision for myself and did it with dignity. I know the man for me is out there somewhere and can’t wait to find him.

Reply August 6, 2014, 10:49 am

Victoria

I’ve been talking to and dating this guy for about three weeks and we’ve been hooking up, seeing each other regularly, spending a lot of time together, enjoying simply being in each other’s company, and are having deep conversations about each other’s lives (i.e. goals, personal fears, family issues which he classifies as things he “doesn’t like talking about” but still shares with me in our conversations without me having to do anything…etc.). He’s been eager to share the things he loves with me (e.g. movies, music) and he regularly tells me stuff like: he enjoys “hanging out…taking me out to dinners…cuddling, holding me, having me in his arms…seeing, being with, me….etc.” (In quotations because these are things he says and, from what I see, truly feels.).

Despite it being only a few weeks, for me and out of principle, the relationship is at a point where I wouldn’t be ok if he dates other people. I would feel cheated on. I believe my feeling this way is completely reasonable (again, at this point in the relationship). I struggle with the concept of having an open-relationship with a guy I am dating like this, and I feel that communicating that I would want my partner to inherently have this same principle is fair. I believe this is a core value of mine. If a man doesn’t inherently foster that principle, I have no problem with civilly ending the relationship (and have before).

At this point in a relationship, am I being unreasonable in: (1) wanting to be with a man exclusively, and (2) leaving the relationship if he doesn’t want to be exclusive?

Reply June 27, 2014, 7:14 pm

D

3 weeks is NOTHING. You should be dating or talking to others bc he probably is (always assume he is). If after 3 weeks you’re feeling this way it’s bc you are overly invested. You shouldn’t be having the talk for a while like 3-6 months in . Also observe his actions. Talk is cheap. Right now you should be seeing him 1 a week and see if that gradually increases after 1 month, etc. a guy can tell you he loves you but unless he shows you….means nothing. Get what I’m saying?

Reply August 6, 2014, 10:54 am

Chantal

I lucked out with this one. I met the guy online and within days he had deleted his profile so I knew he was serious about wanting to commit. I let HIM take the lead, and kept my cool. He asked me to be his girlfriend and then changed his facebook status to “in a relationship” and also changed his profile picture to US. That was a sure way to know! I love this guy like crazy! I just happened to finally find a man who IS ready for something real and not going “Hot and cold” all the time. It takes patience though to find!

Reply April 24, 2014, 10:11 am

Jayme

See that was my situation though at first. He had deleted his profile and had talked about plans to become official but pulled away. I thought I had been playing it cool because I was making him intiate most of the contact and working for it. Guess not :/

Reply April 24, 2014, 1:17 pm

Anita

Your story sounds so much like mine. I’ve recently made all those mistakes where I wish i could change. My friends (one was even male!) were getting on my back on what my status was with my boyfriend (now ex) and i got emotional and confronted him. Funnily enough – i never use to care about ‘labels’.

It didn’t go down well. He had other issues to sort out and as I didn’t get the answer i wanted there and then, I spiraled out of control never to recover.

I should have known though – everything he said and the way he acted made sense – for all intensive purposes we were boyfriend/girlfriend and exclusive.

Sometimes you don’t need a label. Sometimes you already know.

This is a great blog and really good insights into the male mind.

Reply March 24, 2014, 8:29 am

annie

^ simply means that he is not interested in pursuing a relationship with you. the “talk” are full of excuses from his side because he doesn’t want a relationship with you.

i think you should really stop talking to him as he is confusing you but it is really not that hard to see if you are the outside person.

Reply March 22, 2014, 12:01 am

Jayme

The one thing that always confuses me is that I’m honest from the get go about wanting a relationship and the guy seems on board at first. However, the relationship never seems to come to fruition. In my current case, this guy has been consistently back and forth. At first, he came on strong to get my attention and then he cooled off. Now, he keeps going back and forth and it drives me crazy. We have had versions of “the talk” but they seem to slways consist of (I like you but…(You’re away at school/I am three hours away back home/there is an age difference) It puzzles me because this was all known from the get go and he still pursued me. I’ve gone out with other guys but I haven’t met anyone to make me get over him. Not sure what to do :/

Reply March 19, 2014, 11:56 pm

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