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Hit the Brakes on the Relationship Talk

So you think it’s time to have The Talk. You like each other, and you want to know the deal. You want to know where things stand.

Don’t do it. In fact, delay that conversation as long as you possibly can, especially when you’ve just started dating. My rule of thumb is that you can and should get to know each other for 3 to 6 months before you’re going to start slapping down rules and regs. Because the first person to bring it up loses.

The need to have The Talk may seem all mature and adult, but really, it’s just you scratching an insecure itch. You “need to know.” I counter with this: If you’re having a fun, great, sexy time, why oh why would you drop those dreaded words, “Where is this going?” It’s the relationship equivalent of walking into the middle of a great party, turning off the music, flipping on all the lights, and saying, “So, I just want to check. Is everyone having a good time?”

I did this a few years back. And I regret it and would never do it now. I had been seeing the guy a few weeks. He was a bit of a tough read, and I got insecure. I thought I’d help things along or feel better by asking, “So what is the deal, I mean, are we seeing other people, or…” It was a moment of weakness. Big mistake. The whole tenuous, if promising, thing collapsed on itself a short while later. And while that wasn’t the only reason, I sped it to its short and brutish end. Like driving into a wall at 60 mph.

I’ve also been on the other side, by the way, many times. I gently tried to back off this very conversation with partners because it felt like I was being asked to make a decision I wasn’t ready to make. I felt pressured to say what I think he wanted to hear, and if that’s your idea of honesty, well. It’s not. I’ve often found myself marking time FROM THIS TALK, wondering who would be the one to bail out first. Why create this pressure when you’re really trying to get to know someone? Keep it a little gray–a little mysterious. This is how you keep that intrigue alive.

Ask yourself this: Why do I need to ask? What do I really want to know? What do I hope to accomplish? And while I can’t purport to read your mind, I’ll assume you’re craving what most humans do: significance and security. You want to know what’s going on, not because you’re conducting an investigation, but because you want to assuage the nagging fear and be reassured that you are special. You already are–can’t you tell? Nothing is totally secure in love and life, and no one owes you a sense of security.

And if your reason is that you’re afraid he’ll meet someone else? He could meet someone else regardless. There’s always that risk. What would happen if you held off on the grand summit meeting and just enjoyed the person without worrying about how to categorize or title or otherwise claim him? You get the best of both of you–and your own privacy, too.

“But I want us to be honest with each other!”, you cry. You can and should be open and communicative, yes. And after a few months you really do want to get serious, and you want a committed relationship, then of course you owe it to yourself and him to discuss it. But then—not now.

When you do feel the urge to have a meta-conversation, tell him (or her) instead about how much fun you have with that person, how much they rock, how attracted you are to them–and welcome those comments from him. A few sincere words about how you feel about that person can go a long way to making you feel more secure and appreciated. Early on you want to nurture growth, connection—not start laying down the law.

And that why having The Talk too early is horrible because it starts with “I like you a lot” and ends with “and this is what I need you to do/not do, etc.” It legislates. It kills the fun. It says, “Ok, so shall we look at the fine print?” Unless you’re about to close on a house together or do something else that’s legally binding (like marriage), there’s nothing to be gained by this conversation when you’re just starting to create something real.

There will be plenty of time to make it quite clear what you want, and then, if he’s unwilling to provide that, you’ll know you have a decision to make.

Also: Don’t confuse honesty with security. You think that if you know more about what’s going on under the hood you’ll feel better, but that may not be the case. Do you really want to know he likes you a lot but is getting over a crush from last summer, or that his ex-girlfriend has been calling again? Does he want to know you’re sort of weaning off this other guy? No, no, and no. Not your biz, not his problem. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you keep choosing to spend time with and enjoy each other. It’s the actions that matter, not the definition of those actions. You don’t have to kick the tires every two seconds. Just drive.

Oh–and fuck your Facebook status. Honestly. If you’re making relationship decisions so you can click a box, I fear for your future. Because checking a box has driven more than one person into relationships–and marriages–that shouldn’t have happened. Labeling your life isn’t the same as living it.

Case in point: A client of mine has kindled a connection with a man who lives states away, and a good chunk of the year overseas. She wants to know if he’s her boyfriend or if he could be, and worries that by not nailing it down she’s being played. I tell her, yes, it is a game—and the goal is to keep the ball in play. You do this by maintaining a rich and vital connection, staying in touch and letting that person know you’re very much interested. As soon as she tries to get him to submit to certain rules or titles, I warned her she’ll scare him away, and he’s already far away.

Let’s get one thing straight: That discomfort you feel? That excitement? It exists due to the simple fact that things are NOT SET YET. Enjoy it. Don’t suck the life out of it in an effort to make it shelf stable. If you’re still with this guy 10 years from now, there will be a point, sooner than you think, when you’ll wonder where the magic went. This nervousness and thrill is par for the course—and trust me, you’ll miss it when it’s gone.

 

73 Comments

  1. JMarie
    JMarie11-01-2012

    I needed to read this; thanks. Although not completely the same stage as what you write about, I too feel insecure by my boyfriend’s lack of verbal affirmations of how he feels about our relationship. And it drives my insecurity over the edge. We live together. Happily. We call each other boyfriend and girlfriend, so that is not the issue. But he NEVER says anything about how feels. Forget “I love you”, I will never hear that. No other simple affirmations. We don’t talk of the future really. But, his actions show another story. He’s affectionate, caring, he listens, attentive, supportive. He constantly does things to show me how he cares (no, he never buys me flowers, it is more physically what he does and how he emotionally supports me and my goals), we share our life, we visit his mother every weekend. I am slowly learning that I do not need a verbal affirmation of where we stand or how he feels. Like you said Teri: he shows up. Every day. In his own loving way. But, something in my head tells me that to feel secure I need to hear him SAY it, and it does bother me. But, reading this I feel a bit better and have a new perspective.

    • Terri
      Terri11-01-2012

      Jmarie, you bring up an interesting point. And one I will explore further. The need for verbal affirmation. Fact is, if there are things you DO want, couples should absolutely voice that need. You’re together, you love each other, but you say above he doesn’t say what you need to hear, doesn’t bring you flowers, etc. For me, I don’t care about flowers so that wouldn’t matter. But it matters to you. I’m not talking about lowering the bar here in terms of the best we can do–and quite possibly we can all do better. I think this is a conversation you can and should have, certainly.

      And did you say you go visit his mother EVERY WEEKEND?! Good grief. A little “i love you” now and then wouldn’t kill him. He can’t change who he is, but growing as a couple DOES mean being able to do things out of our comfort zones b/c the relationship matters. That’s for sure. There is a way to tell someone that, though, and it’s in a loving moment, not a judgy/bickery one. I don’t think you should settle or be complacent about him. You can tell him what you need — you certainly show him how you feel.

      • JMarie
        JMarie11-01-2012

        Thanks Terri!

        I don’t care as much about flowers either, but I grew up in a VERY verbal family. My parents and siblings end each conversation with “I love you.” My parents tell me they are proud of me, happy for me etc….
        Now, he grew up the complete opposite. His parents never say anything verbal like that. His mom hugs, but they are not a “lovey dovey” family if you will. I learned as a child to hear verbally how people feel and in that way I learned how to feel secure. All of my past relationships have been verbally affirmative, but sometimes saying “I love you” can be empty if said too much, so I don’t expect anything like that as a constant.

        I tell him all the time he makes me happy. That he’s the best. Just how I feel (I don’t say I love you though as I am not sure how that would go over). He usually gives me a hug and kiss back. I sometimes get a “ you make me happy” or a “you’re the best” IM or something, but he knows he is not verbally loving.

        I have spoken to him about this. Not nagging, not judgy. I explained I do not want to change him. I explained how I was raised and why I feel the need to hear this. I cried one time and he hugged me, comforted me, but explained that he is just not used to it and it is hard for him. Meanwhile I get worried about the status of our relationship, but then his actions go and show me that he cares a lot. I think part of it is cultural for him.

        Yes, every weekend! I love his mom though. She’s awesome and she loves me. I am in his family’s life and that shows me too that he cares a lot and we are headed in a forward direction.

        I have expressed my needs, but don’t expect him to change. I know he heard me and I know that he will work on it as he can. Time will tell!

        • Terri
          Terri11-01-2012

          OK, but you sound like you’re making excuses for him. If you can live with it as is, fine. But you’re the one who mentioned your dissatisfaction w/ that part of it. Cultural whatever–part of growing with someone is doing things that are a little uncomfortable.

  2. C
    C11-01-2012

    This article came across my radar today and I would normally not read or even dare comment on this (great article btw)…so here I am…commenting SMH. I’ve recently encountered a very similar situation where the relationship felt forced because she needed affirmation.

    I enjoyed our time together, until I started to feel pressured to show my affection or affirm my feelings to her in ways that didn’t feel natural. Love/affection/true feelings should be a natural flow of interaction, not coerced reactions to a request or from fear of being kept up for hours into the early morning discussing the topic.

    I recently had an eye opening discussion with a friend about “The 5 Love Languages” http://www.5lovelanguages.com/learn-the-languages/the-five-love-languages/ <–I had no clue there was entire site dedicated to this (I have not read the book but have had a brief synopsis, so I am no way endorsing this book). The basic gist is that guys and gals are different, in that we sometimes desire different forms of affirmation or affection. My ex would not see that I performed acts of service (I was no stranger to words of affirmation as well), instead she wanted flowers and other cliche romantic comedy gestures of affection. All I wanted was some peace and a reduction in late night conversations.

    If your significant other is "showing up" and increasing your quality of life and/or happiness, then cut them some slack and start doing some internal analysis of what's the reason for you wanting these additional affirmations. I the reasoning comes back to you want a fast track to marriage and it looks like the two of you are on different channels, then it's time to get crackin'.

    Do you think this may be the secret to sustaining life long spark, or at least a contributor…or otherwise?

    As far as trying to get someone to change how they show their affection. I would recommend being tactful and not making them feel coerced into these unnatural forms of affection. Also, don't discount their current forms of affection. For example, if he cares for your car or house…does he do this for everyone in his life?

    • Terri
      Terri11-02-2012

      C, I hear what you’re saying and I want to be clear here that YES we must acknowledge/respect the different ways people show love for each other. She cannot turn her man into a loving linguist if he’s not naturally. I don’t think she can force him, no. But they’ve also been together a while and I think each person has to make an effort toward the other. So rather than her expecting him to change for her, they need to move show evidence of their willingness to grow and express their feelings in ways that speak to both of their “languages.” I don’t know if it’s just about cutting someone slack or pushing someone. Those are two extremes. But yes–you just said it–it’s often women who need so much affirmation, and we need to learn to find affirmation in ways that are being shown to us but that we don’t see, can’t see. Which is the genus of this post: That when we let our insecurities get the best of us, we actually undermine the experience/communication. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Belinda
    Belinda11-02-2012

    I’ve read the 5 Love Languages and it’s really a life changing book. It helped me to see how others experience love and why I’d had disconnects in the past. Reading it also transformed my relationship with my daughter.

    • Terri
      Terri11-02-2012

      Hey Belinda! I will check out that book.

  4. JJ
    JJ02-21-2013

    Wow. I just read this after reading another of your articles on Jezebel. I was just thinking about something like this regarding the girl I’m seeing. I kept thinking, “are we/ should we be headed toward a talk?” And I kept scripting out the necessary parts of the conversation I assumed would happen.

    In retrospect though, we kind of know where we stand. We keep our communications open especially in a pretty new situation. I’m trying to be more in the moment and appreciate this relationship for what it is, as it is.

    My biggest stimulus for this “talk” is the fact that I’m 7 months out of a relationship and was having all of these concerns: do we have the talk? Why would we have the talk? We’re ok, right? Why wouldn’t we be ok? I just keep telling myself to relax and be in it as it happens. It’s exciting and that can be scary.

    Thank you so much for this post.

    • terri
      terri02-21-2013

      So wait–you’re 7 mos out of a relationship and now you’re in a new one. Seems like it must be around 6 mos or less. I think the key here is not avoiding things that need discussing, but not putting undue pressure to formalize, esp this soon out of the gate. She still wants to know and would likely welcome hearing what you THINK of her, and how much you like her. We all need to hear that. And that to me matters–as long as she feels loved/liked, appreciated, cared for, special, you can hold off on legislating things. That saps the fun out of everything. It’s like letting lawyers into the room. It becomes less about what you like about each other, and more about The Rules and what you can and cannot do heretofore.

      • JJ
        JJ02-22-2013

        I’m fighting against some of those old-relationship-me instincts: defining and steering and labeling. I honestly planned to not have anything serious for a year after the last relationship ended, but I met someone great and am just seeing where it goes.

        “You want to know what’s going on, not because you’re conducting an investigation, but because you want to assuage the nagging fear and be reassured that you are special. You already are”

        We both live wonderful separate lives, and enjoy time together. I like her and have shown and told her as much. She likes me and has shown and told me as much. I’ve made it a point not to rush things and just enjoy them as they go.

        This article stopped that nervous voice in my head that was steering me back into the lawyerly conversation you suggested. I’m enjoying being in the present and wanted to thank you for providing some great words that helped me go in the right direction

  5. mel
    mel02-22-2013

    ok so needed to read this. i should know this…i’m 39…but i feel like i’m JUST starting to get it.

    thx for this

  6. Alexandra
    Alexandra03-11-2013

    Wow am I glad I found this today. I’m in a new relationship (going on 4 mos) and sometimes I so badly wonder if he is my “boyfriend”, but then every single sign shows it. People continually ask me if we’ve had “the talk” and I always say no, but I just know things are good between us and we care about each other. The need for affirmation and commitment seems important sometimes, but when we’re together, I don’t need it at all because I know we are, whether we’ve had other people’s view of “the talk” or not. I’ve been debating asking what exactly this is, but this confirmed that there’s just no point.

  7. Koko
    Koko04-16-2013

    This article came a little late for me but I’m glad I read it anyway. I think I just messed up a situation with an absolute perfect guy because I started stressing about “where things were going” because he’ll be moving out of state in a few months. In so many words but without actually saying it I was trying to get him to make a decision to either make our situation “serious” or to leave me alone all together. When he started to show signs of the latter it hurt. I wished I hadn’t ever said a word. I wished I would have just stayed content in what we were doing because it was AMAZING fun. I beat myself up a lot because I’m never the woman who get’s the girlfriend title so every time I’m having a great time with a guy I’m dating I stress about the fact that I can’t introduce him to my family and friends as my boyfriend. They will ask me and the pressure I feel to be good by being committed overshadows my feelings for the guy. Its a sick sad cycle I’ve been torturing myself with for years. I feel a little better after reading this. Thank you Terri.

  8. Ron
    Ron04-17-2013

    Hey, late to the party but I thought I’d share. I met B only a few months after my divorce so I naturally didn’t want to commit right away. Things were great and she rapidly became my full time girlfriend. I had never had it so good. With anyone. Ever.

    Then came The Talk. We wound up dialing the relationship down for a while, seeing other people (which neither of us really wanted to do, but still …). We ultimately got married, and have stayed together for a very long time. I doubt we will ever split up.

    However. There was an emotional whiplash that came with The Talk that I don’t think either of us has fully gotten over. Our relationship quickly became more like a job. An important and in many ways fulfilling one, but still a job. Even before we got married the sex wasn’t quite as hot, or as frequent, as it was before The Talk. Now we have kids, and jobs, and property, and aging parents. We gave up the freedom to see all the surprises life had in store for us, and we had in store for each other.

    There is a word for what we lost, and that word is romance. B and I shared a lot of it for awhile, and its loss stings forever. So, ladies, if things are going well, and you’d like them to continue, just trust your judgment and go along for the ride. Lots of relationships survive The Talk – mine did – but they don’t come through it unchanged.

  9. Charles
    Charles06-12-2013

    Wow! What a great article. I’ve been seeing a great woman for about five months. Things have been casual, but have recently escalated a bit. I’ve been fighting the urge for a status check, but reading this has helped realize I should just go with it. I don’t know how we’ll end up — committed or not — but right now we seem to be having fun and enjoying the time we do spend together.

  10. sharon
    sharon06-16-2013

    I understand that we shouldn’t force these uncomfortable decisions. I tried to force my current boyfriend into the discussion, only to be evaded entirely. It was only when he realized that I had started to see other people that he decided he was ready to label it. But now, I’m left wondering….what’s it going to take for any new affirmation to happen? A next step? We’ve talked about the future, but he’s not ready to move in. And definitely doesn’t want to get married any time soon. That’s what he said about being in a relationship too – until I was nearly gone. What’s it going to take for the next level of commitment? Me leaving? How do I find out without having A Talk?

    • terri
      terri06-16-2013

      Fact is, whoever is willing to walk away first wins. I applaud your decision to see other people (then). You know the pattern. He only likes you when you’re leaving. So that means when you hang around waiting for affirmation, you won’t get it. It’s not that you can’t talk about it ever–of course communication is key. But when women start in on The Talk in the early stages of a relationship, it’s a killer. There’s a diff between forcing the issue and also not getting what YOU want in a relationship. How long have you been involved with this guy? If it’s less than 6 months it is a bit soon and maybe you should see other people even now. But if it’s been a year or more and your clock is ticking and you really want to be married/kids, etc, then you can’t afford to wait around. I have a post on how to get a guy to commit that i’m posting here in a few minutes, that went up earlier this week on thedatereport.com – but hang on, I’ll have it up shortly. Bottom line: You’ve made it too easy for him–he knows you’re willing to wait, and so he doesn’t have to rush. Having the ultimatum talk is not going to work, b/c if he tentatively and unwillingly agrees to make things more “serious” with you, it’s to appease you and I can guarantee he’ll resent you for it later, or simply leave. If he’s not on the same page, he’s not on the same page. But hold up, read this other article and see how it works for you.

  11. Sambadywhambam
    Sambadywhambam07-08-2013

    I agree in general.

    But, there’s one practical detail that, I think, deserves “air time”, that is quite likely to come up before your 6-month “probationary” / “no The Talk” timeline (you gave that timeframe in a comment not the post)….

    It’s “Are you seeing (fucking) other people?” There are a lot of sex-safety issues to contend with out there, never mind the emotion-safety ones. So, if one party reaches the point where they want to start exclusivity and still has no idea about the other party, then the convo is fair game. Not advisable in the first few weeks, perhaps.

    Don’t drag it out. Don’t repeat it. Make it short and to the point, and the guy (or girl) will understand and appreciate it, and give you a straight answer (or not). Adjust your sex acts and commitment-energy on the basis of their answer (assume that no answer / vague answer means they are playing every table at the casino).

    Assuming you made the topic short and sweet, anyone who responds with “Aw, I was all hot for you and now I’m not, because you brought up a relationship-definition agenda” is a knee-jerking, immature waste of your time (short-term or long-).

    • terri
      terri07-08-2013

      I hear your concern. However, I don’t think that’s the way to go. Nor does it make anyone safer by having it. What makes you safer is by picking partners carefully, talking about your sexual history and practices (condom use, other birth control, etc). Not by asking if that person is with other people, because if one person IS fucking other ppl and the other isn’t, there will be hurt/jealous feelings that can throw a wrench in something that need not be there at this stage in the game.

      I say play it safe: Assume the person you just started dating is seeing/sleeping with other people. That’s why it’s called dating. It’s unfair to assume that just because you had sex with this person, they put themselves on lock down. So again, the person who feels the need to have said Talk, and who wants to, in your words, be “safer” by having the talk, you can avoid this uncomfortable discussion by assuming that person is. Practice safe sex, get tested regularly, etc. This is just how it is. Because this version of The Talk is even MORE personal, b/c you’re now asking to police their genitals. You’re saying you have a right to know, and that’s when it gets weird if you’re not in a committed thing.

      Don’t assume someone comes to you with a clean slate and no prior romantic connections; focus on getting to know them and seeing if there’s something you’d like to pursue there. if you’re not comfortable having sex outside of a committed thing, say so, but warning, that could be a dealbreaker for some. Because it all comes down to the same thing: Trying to make your thing secure before it’s time to be secure. Telling each other whom you’re sleeping with or if doesn’t make anyone emotionally safer. Sorry. Until you decide to have that discussion, where you swear off all other lovers for now or later, assume that’s not on the table.

  12. CW
    CW09-04-2013

    This article literally stopped me in my tracks from initiating the talk after female friends advised me I needed to finally have it with the guy I have feelings for so that I can know where I stand and whether I’m wasting my time. We have been like best friends for 3 years he has supported and cared for me during some really tough times and doesn’t hide the fact that he gets jealous if I talk to him about other guys. But recently we hooked up at a friends wedding (this has happened before but at times when neither of us were in the right head space to want a relationship). I really want more and hope that he does too. He talks about wanting a relationship one minute then he’s worried that relationships never last and he then loses a friend.
    What do I do about the talk? How do I know if we are now more than friends and exclusive or if he wants that?! He is a good looking guy who gets a lot of attention and can be a commitment phobe with really mixed signals so its hard to know what to do next without making a fool of myself or losing a good friendship?

  13. B
    B09-22-2013

    This article was great! Thanks for that but it was a little too late and I did bring up those questions. But nothing changed, in fact we continue to get closer and closer. We are more then friends with benefits. The thing is, although he says he “doesn’t want a relationship right now” he still treats me like we’re in one! We act like we’re together and we’re each others best friends. I know he was hurt before by someone he was in love with but it’s been 6 months and his actions show he wants to be with me but what he says doesn’t match up. I don’t want to bring up the talk again, I want him to make the decision to be with me but should I really be worried about the affirmation if I know how he feels by what he does and I know we’re exclusively dating each other? Does him calling me his girlfriend really matter? I’m confused….

    • terri
      terri09-22-2013

      Thanks for writing! How long has it been since you’ve been dating? This article is really for ppl who pull the trigger way way too early, like before 6 months of dating. If it’s still new, go with the flow. If it’s been closer to half a year and you know you want something more of a commitment, you must and should bring it up, absolutely. YOu want what you want. And if he says he doesnt’ want a relationship, but acts like he’s in one, that COULD be confusing. ARe you datingn other ppl? B/c if he says explicitly that he doesnt’ awnt to be in one, then you should be. Dating a few others. If he’s not closing off his options neither should you.

      If you’ve been together half a year or so and he’s with you 5 out of 7 nights/week, you’re in a relationship :) But fact is, you have to know what you want. Is it being called the Girlfriend? Is it a ring? Is it moving in together? You have ot know what you want. And you should bring it up and say, look, I’m having a great time with you and want to continue to do that. But you want him to know that ultimately you want something committed and you’re not going to bother him about it every day, but it’s something you want, and if he avoids the topic, it will be a problem. Another month, two, three goes by, and still he’s “not ready?” Then you have to tell him you’re going to have to move on. You’ve got to know what you want and set about getting it. You’re not in the girlfriend-rehabilitation business. He needs to man up and decide what he wants. ANd if he begs off, then he wasn’t going to stick around anyway, right?

  14. B
    B09-22-2013

    Thanks for the help!

  15. Bridget
    Bridget09-24-2013

    If you already had the talk and it didn’t go well, but you are still seeing each other – is it completely doomed? I’ve been dating a guy for a few months, and he just got out of a serious relationship. I think I can still turn things around but this article isn’t making me hopeful…

  16. E
    E09-30-2013

    Hi Terri, thanks for this post.
    I’ve done crazy things (that you think are romantic at the time and then kick yourself) many-a-times. I’m in a new (potential) relationship where I’m resisting those urges that push men away. And guess what? It works.
    If I’m feeling a little insecure you know what I do?… I don’t call him. I don’t text him. And guess what? He texts ME, he calls ME – he tells ME he misses ME and wants to see ME again. Then the insecurity monsters fade away.
    At the end of the day we need to follow our intuition, and forget the crazy voices in our heads that tell us to GET AFFIRMATION NOW!! Because you always know in your heart if you ‘rock their world’. And if you do – they want to get their world rocked. So they’ll show up. What I do now, is reward him for the things I WANT him to do. So if he calls me – we have a nice chat, I acknowledge that his come around and we have a wonderful time when we see each other.
    I don’t know where this relationship is going, but what was discussed definitely rings true to us. When I get ‘The Talk’ tingles, I just look at him in the eyes and say ‘You’re delicious’. And that’s all. He knows I care. He knows I’m there. And it works for us.

  17. Dani
    Dani10-01-2013

    When I tell you I WISH I would have seen this article about a year and some change ago it would have definitely saved me some confusion, I might still be confused though. I had just got over a short relationship right before my senior year in college and decided that I will just focus on school and graduate. The weekend before school started I met this transfer student. Long story short about 2 months in (we talked everyday, hung out a few times a week etc) My friends would always come and ask me “So are you and K and item or what?” In the back of my mind I always would say what’s understood doesn’t have to be explained. Like his friends know who I am, my friends know who he is then it should be ok. Right?

    Feeling pressure from my friends I had the talk one night that ended up into a 3 hour convo. I started it like “So how do you feel about me?” Not asking to jump into a relationship but I just wanted affirmation that I wasn’t beginning to waste my time. He responded with ” I think I know where this is headed? What are you looking for? I’m going to tell you right now that I am not looking for a gf. “My heart dropped. We were having fun doing whatever this was and really because he wasn’t saying what I wanted to hear I kept pressing the issue. Which got responds from him like “Well I like you, I like hanging out with you but having said that if you were to chill with another guy (casually date) then we will stop this”

    I was left scratching my head like ” huh?” So let me get this right…. You don’t want a GF, you don’t really want to commit to me but the moment I try to casually date someone else its a wrap. Sounds like a classic case of “trying to have your cake and eat it too.” I also felt like because I never left after this convo that I unwillingly agreed to his terms and conditions and if I ever got mad I can’t complain. :/

    So here I am a year later and We haven’t had that talk again.. I honestly do not want to. My friends ask ask all the time and I think as long as I’m happy with things for now Its ok. Does that mean I’m settling? We basically do the gf/bf things, he met my parents at my graduation, we both cook dinner for the other, go on dates without calling them that,and gifts have been exchanged.

    and more importantly I still get the butterflies and week knees for him. We still have as much fun as we did in the beginning as well.

    • terri
      terri12-11-2013

      Don’t fall for the trap of NEVER asking for what you want. My point is not that you should never have The Talk–it’s just that far too many people have the talk way too soon. As in, a few weeks in, maybe even a month or two. It’s a momentum killer, for sure. But you also can’t sit there in quiet desperation, especially since he put you in a weird spot–he doesn’t want a GF but he doesn’t want you to date other people? Sorry, that isn’t how it works. You’re only settling if you’re not getting what you want. A year in and you’re not seeing anyone else and you’re not sure he is? Do you even know? If you want committed and you’re not getting that, you’re settling. How long can you just hang in there? Forever? If you want committed you have to ask for what you want and be willing to stop seeing him if you don’t get it. Check out this piece in Shape that I was interviewed for. And stay tuned b/c I will address this in a future post. http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/sex-and-love/8-secret-tips-go-casual-couple

  18. Diane
    Diane10-15-2013

    So what about the man who buys you an engagement ring, but never gets round to discussing marriage and when you do, he puts barriers in the way andhe walks. This is a three year relationship btw and we’ve split up three times after The Talk.

  19. Mo
    Mo10-24-2013

    This article is a game changer for me, thank you! I wish I had read this a week ago before I initiated “the talk”. Bad move, obviously. Been dating a guy for a couple of months, always have the best times but when we were at an event where we had ran into a friend of his, he introduced me as a “friend”. So of course I felt insecure and needed some sort of definition as to what we are and long story short, he doesn’t want a relationship. So what do I do now? Since the talk we have seen each other a couple of times and continue to talk everyday like our talk never even happened. I want to continue seeing him but would it be a waste of my time?

  20. C dawg
    C dawg12-08-2013

    Thanks for the informative article. Are there ways to bounce back from asking this too often from the guy I’m dating. I did feel like I lost because everything was all good until I kept asking what we were like where we both stand. Ugh. He told me about his ex and like you said that really shouldn’t be my problem because we were having fun regardless, but I just had to ask about it. Please help ):

  21. Lynn
    Lynn12-10-2013

    Ah! I wish I had seen this article about a week ago. I recently asked the man I am seeing if he’s seeing other people… He said he is “still meeting people” (we met online) but that he’s not seeing anyone in the way that he’s seeing me (by which, I think he means, we go on Prime-Time-Date-Night dates, like Saturdays, we have slept with each other – yes, I know, big mistake on my part! – we have daytime dates, we have both met some of the other’s friends). I responded with something about how I was sorta thinkin that maybe I’d stop seeing other people and just see him (I was trying to state my desires while sounding non-pressuring). Did I mention I had had a few drinks before casually bringing this up? Oh yeah, I’m brilliant. Anyway, I therefore kind of don’t remember the way the conversation ended, but I know that he asked me if I was seeing others and I said that I was, but also not in the way that I’m seeing him. I also recall saying something about how I “know myself and can’t do this” and by that, I’d meant continue to see him while we’re seeing other people. He’d said several times that’s not AT ALL what he wants, that he wants to keep seeing me. Soon after this, we (or I) must’ve fallen asleep. The next morning, he asked me if I’d want to hang out later this week and I said yeah, I’d like that and he said “I’d like that, too.” So, uh…did I make a royal screw up? Does any of this matter? Should I just pretend that night never happened and NEVER bring it up again? My goal is to be in an exclusive, committed relationship with this man – I really like him and we’ve told each other that we like each other so I know the feeling at least SEEMS mutual – and I fear that I messed up by 1) sleeping with him after only a few dates and 2) bringing up the wanting to stop seeing other people issue. I also know that he is looking to be married in the near-ish future and he knows I am too (we are in our mid 30s) and while I’m not trying to say I’m ready to marry him, I definitely want to continue going in a positive direction with him because of the feelings I have for him. We have fun together, make each other laugh, gross other people out in public by being super affection, you know, all that cheesy stuff. ANYWAY How do I undo this and get things back on the right track where I’m rocking his world and making him earn it? (I read that article just now, too! Awesome article but another one I’d wish I’d read just a wee earlier!) Thank you, Terri.

    • terri
      terri12-11-2013

      Oh boy–a lot to talk about here. I want to respond in a bigger way, but suffice it to say: Yes, you showed your cards a bit soonish, but why would you say it’s a mistake to sleep with someone you’re into? Only a mistake if you are thinking sex with him will “make” him not want to date other people, etc, or if you’re unwilling to sleep with a man who’s also meeting with and potentially sleeping with other people. Yes, you made a common slip-up, but all is not lost. See my other post on commitment and stay tuned. You’re not alone–this post is by far my most read, and that’s saying something!

  22. juliete
    juliete01-02-2014

    OMG this post is GOLD ! Wish I had seen this loooong time ago…

  23. Julie
    Julie01-03-2014

    Hi Terri,

    I like your articles. They are to the point.

    I agree about not having ‘the talk’ and that it usually just comes from a place of insecurity not matter how much you ‘rationalize’ it to yourself.

    I would add that for me it is fine to say what I DO want. I will not tip-toe around the issue of commitment to try and keep a man interested and it was the same when I was dating. Much to the horror of some relationship experts I would share early on that I wanted to be married. However it was never about wanting to be married to that particular man, it was always about my own personal desire, and that comes across completely differently from ‘where is this going?’. It never scared anyone away and I am now married.

    However I would also always be the one who was being pursued, rather than the other way round. I preferred to be in my feminine energy in dating and relationships, so it was never me bringing up the topic of commitment anyway. If he wasn’t asking me for commitment then I would be out dating others… Until my husband took me off the market! :-)

    This is now what I teach my clients to do also.

    Julie.

    • terri
      terri01-05-2014

      Good for you! Being in your power is key. I don’t know if it’s a horror to say you want to be married; if it’s what you want, you want. But talking about hypothetically to a new date (“I would ultimately like to be married”) is different than the context of “Are we going to get married?” one month in. Big difference. Sounds like you know what you want–and you got it. People get into trouble when they lie to themselves or others about what it is they do want, and go pleasing someone thinking it will get them closer to an unstated want. Very true.

  24. Cinnamon Girl
    Cinnamon Girl02-10-2014

    My problem is I don’t have the initial screening talk.. because I am busy having fun. So… I want to know…
    how do you have that initial info talk without making a guy feel like he is on a job interview?
    I was dating a guy all of last year and he finally comes out with the “i don’t see spending the next few years …when I retire with a woman that has kids at home” What? I had the kids in April they were in elementary school then and still are..7 months later in November I find out that he is never going to be serious about me because I have kids too young for his travel plans with his imaginary girlfriend he hopes to have when he retires.

    I would love to have screened this out…. avoid a year of heartbreak. I would like to find a guy who is so pleased to have me that he is totally enthusiastic about being a step dad.
    How do I talk about that before any sex etc.?

  25. kaidence
    kaidence02-18-2014

    Well I meet this guy back in December we only talked on the phone for a few weeks then in early January we went out on a date. We have only been on 3 dates since our work schedules have been difficult lately and we both attend school as well. We use to talk everyday but not now. He said he has been busy helping his brother that no longer is employed and that he is also dealing with financial issues which is what had his focus in and that he was sorry if he had not paid much attention to me as of lately. We have hung out after this convo. Hate to admit it but we did end up having sex twice before. We still talk every now and then. Problem is I ended up really liking him but I’m not sure if he feels the same way. Being that he pursued me and said he wanted to get to know me and see where things go with us, I fig he would ultimately like to be in a relationship down the line. We have been casually seeing one another, hanging out and getting to know each other, we have had some in depth convo and shared some things about our family lives and past as a whole, since mid December we have been at this, but I don’t want to pressure him or come off as that crazy needy woman, lol. What should I do? Should I give it another month or so and see how he acts and if he willingly comes to me regarding his feelings or should I just sit him down and gradually ask him? He was with a woman for a few months that he said he loved before we even meet and I was in a relationship for 3 years before meeting him but we both have been out of those relationships for a while now.

    • terri
      terri02-18-2014

      Ah–you’re in the throes of getting to know. Doesn’t matter whom he loved or said he loved before. YOu’re not them; you’re you. You’re trying to figure out what your chances are, and you can’t. YOu can only get to know, and get as close as you are willing. That’s the risk here. No one owes anyone anything. There is no “gradual” asking…once you bring up that topic, it’s up. Period. I’d ask you what YOU want out of this right now. What would it serve to bring it up? If you’re anxious to secure a real long-term thing and don’t want to waste your time, then yes, maybe you should say something…but honestly, it’s only been three months. How would anyone know what’s up exactly? Make sure that you’re willing to act on what you want. If you don’t want to waste a second more of your time with a waxer/waner, then you have to say so, but then PULL AWAY. You can’t bring up the talk, hang around and wait on him to decide to choose you. You have to be willing to walk. If you’re not sure, either, then why not get to know him? Sure, have sex–do what you’re inclined to do. But know that this is what it means to take a risk. Let him come to you a bit. Don’t chase too hard or he’ll run.

  26. Claire Herr
    Claire Herr02-19-2014

    I LOVED your article! I will definitely be reading more tonight!

    I have been dating a guy for close to 7 months but only see each other once a week (I wish we saw each other more). We’ve kept the dating very light hearted and fun, filled with lots of great dates, and a weekend away. I have met all of his friends and he has expressed opennes to meeting my parents. I am worried about bringing up even a light hearted talk about if he is seeing anyone else/ what hes looking for because he also just moved to our city the same week we started dating and he is in the middle of looking for a new job. Should I hold out on a convo for another few months?

    • terri
      terri02-19-2014

      Thank you! This requires a longer answer…so I’m writing it up as a post! Stay tuned :)

  27. THB
    THB02-25-2014

    Hello!

    Lots of good points in this article and thread. However, having read it while currently stuck in the “oops” post-Talk ether cloud, I thought I’d inquire about how to handle subsequent actions with the individual with whom I jumped the gun.

    Context: Casually dated “Mike” for a few months. Was dating other people as well. Another guy stuck for a little while, which reduced Mike to friendzone for a month or two. When I saw him for the first time in a while, he became interrogative about “what happened” with us a few drinks in. I was fairly nonchalant, but I did bring up the fact that, ultimately, I was looking to eventually get married, have kids, etc., and that didn’t seem to mesh with his current interests. It was said in a matter-of-fact, “I dig you, but I know what I want” kind of way. Much to my surprise, though, I got a much more open, in-depth response than I had been expecting. Basically, he confessed that he doesn’t usually have girlfriends because of trust and insecurity issues (particularly with his work schedule), that he has always really wanted to be a father sooner rather than later, that he would never in a million years tell his guy friends all this stuff, and that he really, really wanted to take me out on a proper date and try to date me (rather than ‘hang out’). “Wow,” I thought, and I gave him a chance.

    It’s been about 10 weeks since we picked back up, and we have developed a sort of implied days together consistent schedule. He invites me to things with his friends, pats my leg under tables at restaurants, and so on — you know, affectionate, boyfriendy gestures . I recently brought up “other people.” Didn’t go well. He admitted that he had not been sleeping with other people and didn’t have much interest in it. When I asked if it bothered him if I saw others, he admitted that it did/would. “So, if neither of us is seeing or sleeping with other people,” I inquired, “Are we trying this out?” I suppose that, given his uber confession and his behavior toward me, I thought it would be a pretty solid “sure” in response. Nope. Instead, I got cop-out central: “I’m just not a very good boyfriend,” “I’m not great at this stuff,” “I really like where things are.” I told him that, while that was fine and I respected it, I didn’t think it was fair for him to have a problem with me dating other people, and I had to make decisions that were good for me. The next week was radio silence. We finally got together yesterday night, and everything felt pretty normal. However, several of my guy friends have made the point that – if he’s not “ready to commit” – I need to just nip it in the bud and move on.

    So: We think it’s too late to make him earn it slash rock his world? Should I care about his response to The Talk now that it has happened? I don’t want to undervalue myself, and a number of my friends seem to think that in sticking around after that convo I’m telling him he can control the relationship. However, I do like him, and stuff was (and potentially still is?) positive overall. Finally, I have no clue how to interpret the mix-signal issue with “Date me, I want all this stuff too!” and “I’m not good at being a boyfriend” — those approaches seem inherently contradictory. Is there the possibility of post-Talk damage control!? Or upward and onward? Any thoughts in general appreciated.

  28. S
    S03-07-2014

    Great article! Definitely provides some insight…..

    I have been talking to a guy I met online since mid-November (about 3 1/2 months) and we hit it off right away, an amazing connection, and so much in common its crazy. A couple weeks later we went on our first date- which was the best date I have ever been on. We have opposite work schedules so seeing each other isnt easy, but we went on another date, hung out a couple times, and did some sexual things—not all the way to home base yet if you know what I mean. Anyways, he is a shy, sensitive, somewhat passive guy which is what NONE of my exes were like. I have heard great things about him from other people, he is very close with his family, and he is just an all around amazing guy–not a bad boy like I usually go for. So, we were moving a bit fast at first, at least verbally (things we would talk about), so I tried speeding it up by pressuring him to meet my friends and for him that was too fast…he pulled away a little, wasn’t talking all mushy/love dovey anymore–but we were still talking constantly–and so I decided to have a “talk”. I asked him about it and yes it was too fast for him and he also said his ex texted him on christmas and she unintentionally messed with his head. So we decided to slow down and just keep getting to know each other. His last relationship ended around 6 months ago, and it was serious, but she cheated on him. His ex before that, who he was with for 3 and a half years, cheated on him for the whole last year of their relationship. He also told me that since he’s a nice guy he has been taken advantage of alot, and girls he has talked to in the past usually stop talking to him. He is very attractive, at least I think he is. The problem is we haven’t seen each other since December! We talk every single day–I always know what hes doing, he NEVER talks about other girls, and I drop “hints” to see how he reacts–and it seems like I am the only one he is seeing. As I said above, we do have opposite work schedules, and he works alot, so that doesn’t help. I feel like he is scared to get into a new relationship or not ready because of how he has been treated, and when me and him dove in “head first” in the beginning, it is like he realized it and “pumped the brakes” in some ways (not seeing each other in a while)—but he definitely hasnt “turned the car off” lol he is perfect for me, when we talk it all feels so right and easy it is hard to explain it. So what should I do? do I need to have another “talk” with him in this case or let it flow?

  29. Monica
    Monica04-23-2014

    Hey! This really helped me! I really wanted to have ‘the talk’ with this guy that I’ve been talking to, but I’ve been pushing it off because I know that it’s something that guys don’t like to talk about and it scares them off. Sometimes it’s hard because I want to know how the guy sees me, I wouldn’t want him to be using me and playing with my feelings. The complicated part of this relationship is that we had sex a couple of times because we both established that we were attracted to each other but we haven’t really hung out and or gone out. That’s why I really want to have the talk with him because I don’t know what he wants from me. I definitely don’t want to be used, but I do enjoy talking to him. I just want the relationship to move forward without saying much.

    • terri
      terri04-23-2014

      The modern world of dating is complicated. And yes, people have sex, long before any sniff of commitment is made. There’s nothing wrong with two consenting adults having sex. But sex isn’t currency, so you don’t “trade it in” for a relationship. I don’t know how long you’ve been involved with him, but again, as I said in the piece, I beg you not to ask out of a need to scratch your own insecurity itch. It’s not that guys hate the talk–they want to be in great relationships as much as women do. What they hate are insecure women nagging and questioning and asking for a commitment way too early. You are afraid of being hurt/used. But aren’t you “using” him too? To feel good, to have a companion, to enjoy his company. Stop worrying about what he might do, and go by what you know. How does he treat you? Someone who uses you will treat you like shit. He could MARRY YOU TOMORROW and still use you and make you feel like shit (ask any spouse). So what you want is a promise you won’t be hurt, and nothing, nothing can give you that. Go with your gut and wait until you feel pretty serious about him before you bring this topic up. Just enjoy and get to know and trust him.

  30. Lana
    Lana06-02-2014

    It’s been Under two months and I now realize that I listened to friends and peers and tried to have the talk way too early. I’d like to think that I can just stop bringing it up now that he’s said he’s not ready for commitment yet, but I know that I’d be better off having not brought it up at all ever.
    What should I do now, to reaffirm my cool and make him feel less rushed. I have a feeling that I should just play it cool and never being it up again and act like I don’t care but some more advice would help.

    • terri
      terri06-10-2014

      Maybe that’s true. You know where I stand on that. Two months is very soon. The goal is not to be “cool” here as in pretend you don’t give a shit, when that isn’t true. You could, during a fun, easygoing moment, just say that you really enjoy his company, and you’re enjoying getting to know him, and that you’d just like to keep having fun and see where it goes. It’s something you’re saying, not a “talk” you’re having. You’re just letting him know that you thought about it and he’s right. It’s way too early to be thinking long term. And then, don’t hover. Let things breathe a bit, let him call you, etc. Upbeat, positive, warm–not needy. Got it? Don’t apologize, nothing like that. Just reassure and give space.

  31. Sara
    Sara06-05-2014

    Great post, needed to read this to get myself straight. I realized (and think I already knew but was trying to rationalize the talk to myself) that I’m definitely trying to scratch that insecurity itch and this article stopped me from doing it. Thanks so much, needed this!!

    • terri
      terri06-06-2014

      So glad I could help! Remember, you can have the talk, and should, but you want to resist the urge to force it early on as a way to assuage your fears.

  32. Patricia
    Patricia06-19-2014

    Hi my daughters boyfriend of 4 months just broke up with her it was her first realatonship at 21 and he knew this they seemed so happy then he said we need to talk. He told her he was not in the right headspace to be with her and that things where all foggy in his head he has suffered from three concussion in the last couple of years he says he just hates everything that is going on his life at the moment like work and being around people and he sees him self getting angry at the smallest thing is he using this as an excuse he said he really cared for her. He is 25 and has had a few girlfriends my daughter heart broken as she is really falling for him please any advice would be good

    Patricia

    • terri
      terri06-20-2014

      Patricia, I know that as a mom your heart is breaking for your daughter. But as a woman you know there is no cure for it but time. Look–this guy seems like he has a lot going on and for some reason he can’t be in it with her right now. That’s a decision he has made and she has to respect it, period. I don’t care if it’s an excuse, a fib, or a flat-out lie and he never had a concussion in his life–he wants out. And he’s obviously not a fit for her–he has said in himself. The only thing I regret is that this is her first time experiencing this, at 21. I’m sorry for her pain right now but it’s a lesson she was going to learn at some point: No relationships are a guarantee. Not a one. Now at least she has checked that box and can move on. She is freed up to meet a new love, and in her lifetime, will likely have many wonderful ones! But you have to get past the first in order for that to happen. That’s the best news of all–that the world is wide open to her and that man will not be the last.

  33. light
    light07-01-2014

    Hi, I need your urgent support. I recently broke up with my boyfriend. We’ve met on the dating site and dated for about a year. My concern was that I was very lenient with him at the beginning when he won’t call or email me. Things got worse. He is overseas and I’m in Africa. We spent time almost every after 3 months together. He loves me, I love him. No doubts about this. Now, the problem that I cannot swallow is that he will stay for about two weeks with no contact. I allowed it in the past. I spoke to him about it 3 times. He has not done anything about it, he is stubborn. The last time he stayed for a month before communicating with me, that’s when I broke up. Distance as is, is difficult. No communication makes it worse. I did not know HOW else I can stress my request for communication, hence I thought breaking up is a solution. Of course I was miserable after breaking up. I did not stop loving him, but I thought what is a relationship with few communication. After breaking up with him on the phone, he wrote me a long email expressing his shock and emotions. He apologized for the way he made me feel. But did not say he wants to fixed things going forward. “Fixing things” is the part I was looking for, but it did not come up. We wrote emails back and forth explaining misunderstandings. His last email asked me to be his friend if I don’t want him as a boyfriend and he wished me good luck for the future. I was still miserable within 2 weeks of breaking up, I refused to be his friend and told him I want him as my partner. I told him on my last email that I was hoping that he would want to fixed things and asked him what do we do when there is a problem, pretend as if all is well, push them under the carpet or solve them. Cut the story shot, After a week of breaking up, I called him and said I overreacted, I’m sorry. He said he did not expect it. He has not responded to my last email though “fixing things”. After a week, he called and spent about minutes on the phone call updating me about things and saying he is happy that things now are “normal” but said he was confused, he does not know where we stand. I said, he knows how I feel about him I stated every thing on the email. I was waiting to here from him, to hear how he feels about me after the “break up”, what do we do when we have problems and if he wanted to fix things. He promised to write me a response soon. He didn’t. After two weeks, he sent me a picture of what he did at his garden on the email, with no text. I just said it looks nice and stated that he is avoiding responding to my email. Its been three weeks after the email picture, no response. I’m confused, weather I should move on or wait. I went to register on the dating site we met on for 3 days and felt, I’m not over him and its not the right thing to do. I deleted my profile. What should I do? I constantly think of him sometimes I want to move on. It scary. Please help. I don’t want to act like a coward and run when problems arise, but this is not in my control. Please help.

    Light

    • terri
      terri07-02-2014

      This is simple: He didn’t say he wanted to fix anything. He wants it to be as it has been, the way he likes it, doing what he feels like doing. He said he was shocked, and that may be true. Shocked because he didn’t expect you to stand up for yourself. Don’t apologize for wanting what you want. That’s what you’re doing. He’s training you to do what he wants, not what you want. If that’s the life you want, go for it. But this is a no-brainer. He’s not going to change. You might love each other, but this isn’t working for you, period. Move on.

  34. S
    S07-03-2014

    Hi Terri, I really need your advice figuring something out. I have been close friends with this guy for the past two years or so. Around 10 months ago we started going on dates, we see each other once a week and I can sense that both of us feel comfortable and happy around each other… we’ve also met each others families on multiple occasions and it’s gone fabulously. However, the most romantic it’s gotten is kissing/holding hands and that only happened once. A few months ago we ended up having a conversation (over text) where I told him how I felt towards him and wanted to know what was going on between us. He said there was no need to put a label on what we are (and that I was the perfect girl for him), so we should just take it as it comes. This confused me because ultimately I would like to be in a more serious/romantic relationship with him (boyfriend/girlfriend), so I feel the need to ask him in person this time. I know how he feels about me, but I just want to clarify if this is going anywhere and what our relationship exactly is. Should I initiate this talk? How would I go about having it and what should I say?

    • terri
      terri07-03-2014

      Given that you’ve been dating this guy for a year (tho not sure I would count it as that at this point, since it’s sexually very much in junior high :) , I think it’s time to state your intention. Because what’s happening otherwise? You’re not getting anything you want. (Are you? Would you like more romantically to be going on?) You’re not getting a commitment, you’re not getting a ‘real’ dating relationship. And he’s just keeping you on hold, stringing you along in case he decides to do more, but he wont’ say if or when. That sucks.

      If you have attempted the talk and he has demurred, it means he may not be willing to go there. So rather than put yourself in a position of “begging” for more, I’d initiate a talk in which you don’t ask, but tell. And this should be IN PERSON, not on text.

      You say the truth: “I really like you a lot, and I’d love to do and be more with you. I love that we’ve taken the time to know each other, meet each other’s families, but I think it’s fair to let you know that ultimately, I’m looking for more. I know you say I’m the perfect girl for you, but as it stands, this isn’t the perfect situation for me. If you want to take this up a level, I’d entertain it; if not, then I think I need to move on.” That’s one option.

      The other is to recognize that you are not in a committed relationship–he has said he doesn’t want to label it–and that means you should be dating other people. It’s none of his biz, honestly. I’d go out on a few dates and see how you feel. And then the talk comes from a place of power. You’re not going to rub it in his face, but you know you have options. If he can’t step it up or doesn’tw ant to, sorry, you’re not a library book put on hold until he’s ready to read it. The trick for ALL of this is your willingness to walk away. If you don’t, then he holds the cards and you are signing up for whatever he wants.

  35. Siobhan
    Siobhan07-03-2014

    I recently 7 weeks ago split from my husband. We had had a loveless (no sex) relationship for 7 years. I met up with someone I had had feelings for over a quite a few years and whom had fancied me all through school! We immediately had a connection and have been seeing each other since. He is 42 and I am 40. He has been single for many years and has no ex-wife or kids. When we are together we love each other’s company and are very affectionate and have good sex. He has been honest with me that he has got himself happy being single as he didn’t think he would meet anyone and doesn’t feel the ‘want’ to be in a relationship but that he is keeping an ‘open mind’ as he loves being with me.

    How long should I give him to decide if he can get out of the single mode and grow up and have a relationship? Family and friends say I am wasting my time but how long should I wait for him before giving him cut off that if he doesn’t know he wants to be with me then we should stop seeing each other. I have 2 kids aged 12 and 14 one of which lives with their dad.

    I am probably more into him as I have been starved of sex and affection for so long I have grabbed on to what we have with strong hands!

    • terri
      terri07-04-2014

      Ok, hold up. You RECENTLY split from your husband. You got OUT of a marriage that wasn’t working. You know how hard that is to do. That means this is a very new relationship you’re in now. Yet you’re already wondering how long to give the new guy to “decide” and to “grow up.” You if anyone should know growing up is not synonymous with marriage. You are fresh out of a marriage and you’re already waiting to hustle this new love back into the very institution you just left? You realize how crazy this sounds right? You have someone whom you enjoy, whose giving you the affection you have wanted and missed. And for not that long. So as you already know from my article, your itch to get someone to lock in to a relationship says far more of YOUR needs than his.

      This guy doesn’t need to be married! He said so himself. He wasn’t looking for it, didn’t expect it. Then you come along, things are great, and now he’s supposed to change his whole life and change what he wants? That doesn’t seem fair. And I think you’re crazy to rush this.

      The other word that caught me is “wasting my time.” Since when is enjoying someone who brings you pleasure a waste? I’ll tell you what was a waste of time–a long-term marriage that didn’t give you what you wanted. THAT was likely a waste of time (and I realize I don’t know the whole picture). This man is the best thing to come along in a while. If you rush him, and make him “decide,” you risk losing him. Women always go into relationships ready to change the guy. And it’s a mistake.

      So, the question is, what do you want more–someone who will commit to you just so you can have a commitment (knowing as you do that they don’t always last), or do you want to explore and enjoy a new person. If you’re DYING to get married again, and really don’t want to be bothered with anyone who doesn’t, then after about 6 months, when you’ve given yourselves a chance, I would say what I want ultimately, and if he doesn’t want that, then you need to let HIM go. I think that YOU may be the one who needs to grow up a bit.

  36. Krista
    Krista07-07-2014

    I am considering having this battle in my heart and mind as to whether I should have this talk with a guy I have been dating for 3 months. When we spend time together, its so much fun. We make each other laugh and just have a good time. I am currently having anxiety about this relationship because 1) we are not spending as much time together as before (we see each other 2-3 days a week when before it was more) and 2) he doesn’t initiate contact between us like he used to. This weekend he was telling me a conversation he had with a co-worker who wanted to hang out with him and pick up girls. My guy told him he can’t because he is seeing someone. Is this his way of telling me that he is exclusive with me or should I talk to him? I’m confused. I have told him that I like him and he says he likes me too. What should I do?

    • terri
      terri07-11-2014

      Considering the battle? I think you’re having it. You seem to be considering whether you should talk. 3 months is still fairly early, but early enough so that things shouldn’t be losing steam already. When you’re dating someone, 2-3 times a week would be considered quite a lot, actually. But only you know what you know and what you feel about it. Q: Does he not have the chance to initiate contact? Are you filling in the gaps with texts and emails and he’s slow to respond? As you know, I am very much against the flood-and-cling model of new dating (or any dating), wherein one party seeks constant attention/acceptance of the other person. You’re quantifying the how many days, how many times thing…but what about the quality of time when you are together? B/c you seem focused on the spaces between. You may just be settling into a routine or maybe he started to realize he was losing himself and decided to pull back a bit. But I’m going to bet against the idea that he’s secretly telling you he’s exclusive. If you are, it shouldn’t be a secret.

      I’d step back yourself a bit. What happens if you don’t text first or don’t respond right away? What if you’re a little less available? I guarantee if he’s interested, he’ll start to feel the need for affirmation himself. But he can’t if you don’t give him the space to seek you out. Don’t smother this thing.

      If, after another month or so, you feel unsure, I would bring it up and state your intentions. It’s not the are we/aren’t we talk, but more like, “Bob, I really like you, and I get the sense that you like me, etc, and I would like to be in a committed relationship with you. If that’s something you’re not into, I’d like to know, because if that’s the case, I’d like to move on.” Of course, it’s not said all cold/business like, but during a positive moment. You have the right to want what you want…and to give him an out if he doesn’t. But then you need to stick by that. you can’t say “I want more” and settle for less, or your words mean nothing.

  37. Vanessa
    Vanessa07-09-2014

    Do these tips apply if you’ve been dating again for 4 months, known each other for over a year and he won’t add you as facebook friend, citing privacy concerns? What about if some of his stuff is still at his ex girlfriend’s, including his dog. They broke up last May. She still hangs out with his kids when they are in town, lends him her car, computer and buys his kids concert tickets.

  38. Krista
    Krista07-11-2014

    I am not the constantly texting him or calling him. There were two days this week where I didn’t contact me and there was no contact on his hand just because I don’t want to cling to him. But it would be nice to hear from him like he did before. When I do text him, his response time varies. He doesn’t check his phone during the day except during lunch or break.

    His actions when we were together shows that he really does like me. He even told me that he thinks I’m awesome. The quality of time together is great! We enjoy the time we do spend together and we make each other laugh. We are at ease when we are together.

    There have been many times where I don’t respond to him right away and not text him. But I don’t think it really affects him. Nothing really gets to him. He’s very easy going.

    Last night when I saw him, we were having a conversation about my friend and how her family is there to help out her and her husband with their kids. He said its nice to have family around to help. Then he said me and you are screwed. I take that to think he possibly sees a future with me. I don’t want to think too much into it.

  39. c
    c07-13-2014

    Omg. Thank you so much for this article. I was on the verge of “the talk.” I’m so glad I read this first. I think my reason for want to establish a relationship status is because I am basically husband hunting and I don’t want to waste a lot of time on someone who is only interested in a casual thing. I now have no doubt that having “the talk” would have sent him running!

  40. mcj
    mcj07-16-2014

    HI Terri! I know I am guilty of bringing up “the talk” in a bad timing. I did it 5 months into casually dating this guy CD. I wasn’t seeing any other guys, and he wasn’t seeing any girls either ( I know in my heart of hearts he wasn’t). I told him honestly that I could not go on anymore having sex without the commitment. It bothered me. He admitted that he has never had a “fling” relationship too. But since it bothered me,I left it at that, and moved on. But then he came back, asking me on real dates. but as time goes on, both of us couldn’t stop ourselves from being physical….and it made me really uncomfortable again. I tried to go with the flow even though it was really hard for me. I waited and see if things would be better. His family situation made it worse that he cannot give me the quality time that I need, when we see each other, we have sex. So my resentment grows and grows and then I finally have the “talk” again because I cannot keep doing this. I broke it off even though I still wanted to spend time with him. I am in a dazed right now. I don’t know what to do. If I go with the flow, I get hurt. If I’m being honest and tell him what I want, I’m still hurt. Damn if I do, damn if I don’t.

    :(

  41. Eli
    Eli07-17-2014

    I’m a female who “google searched” this issue because it confused me so much, and I found this wonderful post. I just left a short-lived relationship after 4 months. I hesitate to say 4 months, because about 1 month in, The Talk happened–that the guy initiated. And yes, I had been counting my time with the hapless fellow since that point.

    I have been in a few committed relationships, and have dated a bit, and am in a period of my life where I am busy, have hobbies, and having a partner is a great bonus but not something I want to rush into making “shelf stable” as it was nicely put. I liked the excitement of living in the moment. I met this guy, thought I made my life goals and relationship ideals clear. We had some things in common, but had some big differences. Chemistry was good, but I wondered about the rest–I thought it was best to take my time. I thought this was fine—as I had mentioned I was interested in finding compatibility and not rushing things–in one of our initial, wonderful, talks.

    As he put it, “he fell hard.” The Talk happened one night when he was drunk (I was DD) and accused me of not liking him and much as he liked me. It floored me. I thought things were going great. Apparently in this month he felt that I was not acting like a good enough girlfriend: my texts were not frequent enough, not affectionate enough (I’m not a texter), and he wanted to see me more (I go to school and work full time). I was angry, and turned off as this drunk, whiny, needy guy was telling me apparently how awful I could be to someone in 1 month–despite the amazing chemistry, despite MY initiation of dates, my creativity, and all the effort I made to be real, and treat him with respect. He needed to know I missed him, more. I couldn’t be MIA on him for 6 hours–I had to let him know he mattered by doing everything possible to contact him in those long stretches of time (? I do shift work, and go to school…).

    The Talk lasted the next 3 days, as I grappled with what he said, my anger/disgust/confusion, and his assertion of “relationship rules.” Every sentence coming out of his mouth was “a relationship is, it isn’t, in a relationship you should, you shouldn’t.” I said things like how we had great chemistry, I did like him–but I agreed I wasn’t sure if our mutual like was equal. I didn’t apologize for his perception of how I wasn’t living up to his ideals. I let him know that he might be expecting me to act like another person/old gf, and that I felt things were moving too fast. I had different ideals that I reiterated. “What’s the rush?” I asked, letting him know I was no where near ready for marriage talks (who would be at that stage??…other than him). He back-peddled and said he was happy with me, that I was a “great of 95% of the time,” and that “we could work on the rest.” He insisted there was no rush, he was a young guy who should be having fun and not push for the white picket fence dream. I agreed that relationships take “work,” but I wondered how natural this effort would be. I spent time letting him know what he wanted was fine, but he might need to find that with someone else, not me. He insisted “no guy will ask for anything different,” and that if I didn’t want to try, I must not want a relationship.

    Needless to say, The Talk seemed to not make things better, or reassure him, or solidify my feelings for him. It actually served to make things less clear with where we stood with one another. We had been monogamous from the get-go, and clearly interested in each other. I thought this was a feat in of itself, and so I had been looking forward to getting to know this seemingly great catch (he told me so), over the next few months to see about compatibility while building a possibly great foundation for a future.

    Instead, the Talk didn’t slow him down for the next 3 months. He was passive aggressive, pushy, intense, and needy. He amped it up, telling me he loved me multiple times, expecting a reply. I clearly did not say it back. He insisted I was a coward when it came to love and tried, when we were intimate, to get me to say I loved him. Creepy! The more he pushed me, the less I liked him or “what we had,” which was apparently something really special that I was throwing away. He bought a house near where I live, explaining it was a move he wanted (despite him saying he wanted to live somewhere completely different a month ago). He told me people who love each other can only think about each other, were each other’s best friend, and constantly missed each other. Okay, buddy, maybe that’s your ideal of love. I made excuses to not see him. It took me three tries to break up with him, but eventually he accepted this and broke up with me (try number 4) and proceeded to send me a facebook message about how I “failed” and was a “coward when it comes to love.”

    I have been a month out of this, never looking back with regret, but still thinking about what happened. Thinking about what he wanted to gain from The Talk(s). It bothered me that someone who knew I was their gf, that we were monogamous, wanted something more after a short period of time. He was/is a nice person, heavily influenced by his married friends around him. I know he wants that, and he’ll get it. Just not with me. Not because I don’t want it! Because I need to take my time knowing that’s a good move, before essentially promising them that way ahead of time, which is what he wanted.

    I guess I just needed to vent about my own experience, and comment that I am a woman on the other side. Of course, there is a lot more to him, me, and the situation. I’m still thinking about it because I am still learning from it. Just wanted to share… :)

    • terri
      terri07-21-2014

      Thank you for this. In fact, I’m making it a blog post…it DEF goes both ways and now you have a perspective that lots of women don’t: That clingy, needy, demanding behavior does nothing but drive someone away.

  42. Julie
    Julie07-22-2014

    I have to disagree with you on this one. I think you should have a talk on where you stand before you even start dating. Not an oh-so-serious discussion, but you should find out about the person… if they are interested in pursuing a relationship, how long they have been single, what they are looking for in their next relationship to find out if you two are compatible Women always let men have the upper hand in relationships because they are so terrified about scaring them off. I am sorry — but if you are a strong, successful, beautiful, and intelligent woman, your energy isn’t going to turn him off. A man who is interest in you, and getting to know you — is going to want to get to know you. He is going to want to call you, and connect with you. He is not going to care about the “sticky” relationship topics, because he “too” wants a relationship. And why would you want to be with someone who is unwilling to communicate, or willing to let you go? My advice is to show him the door — and say “bu-bye.” Women are just too insecure. You need to have faith in yourself and the universe. Maybe that’s why the divorce rate is so high — cause women are just settling for assholes.

    • terri
      terri07-23-2014

      Hmm. Interesting. Well, if the reason for the divorce rate was that “women settle for assholes,” then in fact the divorce rate would have been soaring for the past million years. There are lots and lots of factors playing into why the divorce rate is what it is and why fewer people are getting married. And settling isn’t the issue–quite the opposite. Women are wondering why they should settle in the first place. There have always been assholes, my dear. Since the dawn of time.

      But I think we’re actually in agreement more than you realize. I didn’t say “speak of nothing but the weather for three months.” I think you should know and learn a lot about that person as you date–what they liked about past relationships, hated, ran from, wanted, etc. All of that IS part of dating and getting to know someone (which is why I think it’s silly when people “refuse” to hear about past relationships–I love asking about them). What I’m talking about, in case you didn’t read it closely enough, is the kneejerk urge to make someone say whether you are “official” before you’ve had a chance to know each other. Knowing what someone ultimately wants? Of course that’s a good idea to know. If he only wants meaningless sex, yes, clear that early on. It’s that urge to ask just to scratch an itch, when you have so much evidence that it’s going well, that can sometimes up-end things before they need to be.

      In fact, it takes a very secure woman to do this. The insecure women “need to know” everything too soon.

  43. Bella
    Bella08-02-2014

    Hey Terr,
    I really needed to read this article, i am a 20 year old girl in university and met my boyfriend 5 months ago. He is very insecure and he brings up the fact that Piscies (him) and gemini (me) aren’t really compatible. He says he doesn’t want to get serious as we’re having fun right now and are young. But for me, I see him as someone I want to be with for a long time. He might graduate and go to england next year and he says he doesn’t believe in long distance relationships. He doesn’t have time for me so we meet once a month. But my problem…I’M CRAZY ABOUT HIM. I do stuff for him that i wouldn’t imagine doing for anyone else. I would leave everything on a day he’s free and I’m not and go see him. He’s busy studying for law school and lives very far from me as well. I asked him where this is going and he says that at this point…its just that we can’t expect to be with each other forever because we’re young, why is this one sided, i would do anything to be with him and he wouldn’t? i can’t really understand this, can you please help me out? I want to be together with him and that’s why even though i can’t handle how we don’t see each other for a month, i still hang in there and try my best to be a good and understanding gf. I asked him that why would you be together with someone you don’t see yourself in the future with ? and he said, we’re together in a relationship because i like you and you like me, and he wants to think about now and whatever happens in the future will happen. I don’t like that :( please help me out because i can’t seem to think about anything but him and this isn’t good for my studies because i have high hopes!! Please and thank you so much!!

  44. Carla
    Carla08-04-2014

    How had I not read this a week ago!! I’ve been meeting this guy for 6weeks an it was as if we were together. I seen him 5/7 days he was always phoning and texting me an spent every weekend together. He put in all the effort arranging to see me because I didn’t want to feel like I was pushing him to see me. I fetched up his birthday which is tomorrow an he freaked out slightly telling me I shouldn’t of got him anything an I felt like he was avoiding me which then led to the ‘can you see this going anywhere’ no he says he loves spending time with me an really likes me an always have a good laugh an crack but just sees me as a friend than as if he’s meeting me!! Which has came totally out the blue an I can’t understand where it’s came from when he’s spent so much time an effort an he can’t give me an answer as to why he can’t see it going anywhere when he could when we were together??? I’m so confused

    • terri
      terri08-04-2014

      Forgive me, doll, but I’m not sure I understand what exactly is going on. I don’t know what “fetched up” means in this context…nor what precipitated the change. He decided maybe that it’s not going somewhere, and has decided to move on, then? I know it’s confusing, but maybe it took him that much time and effort to realize it’s not what he wants. I admire him for doing that–because while you’re confused, he did his homework. If he never made an effort to know you and then called it off, you’d be mad, right? But he DID make an effort, and now he either freaked out or has just come to a decision. We can’t read his mind; you can only go by what he says. Moving on.

  45. Alysha
    Alysha08-17-2014

    Thank you so much for this article, I was having a breakdown yesterday about having the talk with him (jeremy).
    The thing is, I don’t know what to do… We had dated before for nearly three months. We hit it off pretty quickly in the beginning mainly having sex, yet still doing dates. Due to my past relationships I was very insecure and I got the itch and well was moving relatively fast. In the end we split-among many reasons of: going too fast, not enough time for one another, etc. so we didn’t talk for two months until I was in the hospital. After recovering 2-3weeks after I asked to have him come “hang”. And ever since then- now 8 weeks of seeing each other once a week or every other week I can’t help but feel that itch again. Mainly just confusion of okay so are we just sex buddies? I don’t want to be used for sex but he confuses me with taking me out to eat when we “hang”, he holds my hand when we are out and always when driving in the car. We don’t talk a lot when we aren’t together in person. But when we are together I just still really like him, and it kills me to question myself if we should be doing this at all.. Does he care about me, want to be with me at all? For a while my ex kept trying to contact me, and on occasion I would hang with him, but Jeremy got a bit..protective which confused me more. So maybe he is still serious about me but just taking it slow? We haven’t talked about us at all yet. I just keep getting pressured by my parents and other family members that I shouldn’t give my body out for free and I should make sure he’s not just using me. What should I do? He surprised me last time we hung out which was two weeks ago he said he was interested in spending the night at my place next time my dad was gone. I’m still flabbergasted. Looks like we are moving forward a smidge. So tomorrow night he’s supposed to come, I just don’t know if I should say anything about this… Help please?

    • terri
      terri08-19-2014

      The reason I advise holding off on the big convo is because it’s usually to scratch an insecurity itch. But in your case, if you’re sleeping with the guy, and not comfortable with it, then of course, you shouldn’t just keep doing a thing that makes you uncomfortable! THis isn’t about his thoughts/intentions, nor is it about your family and their pressure. This has nothing to do with them. What you haven’t said is what YOU want. You’re trying to guess and imagine what he wants, what cards he’s holding. This isn’t fun, right? You have to own what you want and be honest about it. If you really would rather be in a committed relationship with someone when you’re intimate, then you have to say so. Off the bat. The goal is not subvert your wants and feelings just to seem “cool.” I don’t advise that. I say you DO have a talk with him, and be willing to walk if he doesn’t feel the way you do. If you say one thing, but then “hang” with him another night, you’re sending mixed messages and then you yourself are to blame for getting a mixed bag. So, time to step up, and if he isn’t into it, you need to let him go. It’s only been three months…but if you feel it’s a waste of time and aren’t into it, and he isn’t clear, then you need to get out. Just tell him what you want, and that if he’s interested in taking this further and considering something more serious, then great! If not, then time to say goodbye.

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