A step-by-step guide to having the "what are we" conversation with someone you're dating
Since so many of us are using dating apps and meeting more people all the time, it feels like we have the “what are we” talk less and less. Hookup culture is like that. But sometimes, we get lucky and meet someone that we want to keep around. Which means you might eventually have to have the “what are we talk” and figure out if you guys are on the same page. Or maybe you have to have The Talk because you think the other person is getting more serious than you actually want.
Either way, having the “what are we talk” is a necessary step in most relationships.
But it’s not easy! It can be scary to bring it up, no matter what side you’re on. If you really like this person and want to ~go steady~ with them, you are totally exposing your heart and running the risk of getting burned. If you sort of want to just make sure the other person is cool with being f*ck buddies, you run the risk of ruining a good thing when you realize the other person wants to settle down with you and you have to cut them loose. Or just maybe you end up happily ever after.
The bottom line is that the stakes are crazy high. In order to do it right, here’s how to best have the “what are we” conversation.
Don’t buy into the trope that it’s annoyingly “girly” to ask a person what you guys are actually getting into. That’s annoying — there is nothing wrong with standing up for your feelings and figuring out what the boundaries of this relationship are. So own the fact that you want to have the conversation. Of course, make sure it’s a proper time, like when you are both relaxed and have the time to have a conversation. If they ask you to postpone the convo, that’s cool. But make sure you get around to it. And make sure it’s in person!
2Tell the other person how you feel.
Once you’re both settled down and looking each other in the eye — again, do not do this over text — tell the person how you feel. If you don’t want to get serious, remind them that you like them, but that you’re not in a place for a relationship. If you want a relationship, tell them that. The trick is to be as clear as humanly possible about what you want.
3Ask them what they’re expecting.
Far too often, one person in a relationship wants to have the “what are we talk” and gets so wrapped up in the scary part of sharing their own feelings that they forget to acknowledge the other person. A “do you feel the same way?” will suffice, but there are tons of ways to toss the conversation back to them.
4Listen to the other person.
This is important! In relationships, we tend to hear what we want to hear. That’s not being crazy, that’s probably just us wanting to protect ourselves a little bit. When a person tells you something, listen to them and believe them. Pushing someone into a situation they don’t want is going to lead to heartache, no doubt.
5Make a choice.
Can you live with what the other person wants? Think about it. Like, really think about it. Try to remember what you said in step two and what you asked for out of this relationship. Don’t settle for anything that doesn’t feel good.
6Stick to the plan.
This can be varying levels of hard, depending on where you two end up. If you wanted to be exclusive and the person is into that — good for you! Have fun. (Or at least some celebratory romantic AF sex.) If there’s more of a compromise situation happening — like you don’t want a relationship, but the other person does — figure out what that looks like going forward together. Don’t lead anyone on, and don’t be lead on.
The whole point of the conversation was to map out the boundaries of your relationship, so remembering to stick to them is half the battle.