There's something magical about a fresh start in a relationship, whether it's something brand new or just trying to figure out how to turn a hookup into a relationship. In today's modern world, many relationships start much more casually than they did in the past. Many of us aren't waiting to have sex, and we aren't establishing boundaries and labels in our interactions with the men or women we're interested in. So we may end up in this weird area in between hookups and relationships. Is it a fling? Is it a relationship? Are you just hooking up? It's hard to know.
As a wedding planner, I get to hear about how couples meet all the time. Sometimes they're cute and traditional, like "we met in line at Starbucks," but more often than not, couples begin in this gray area: "Oh, we hooked up for a few months before I finally had the guts to ask her if she actually liked me or not." So hey, I would know — just because it's a fling now doesn't mean anything for the future.
I can't speak for everyone, but eventually I get tired of this in-between area. I want to know if I can text someone whenever I want without looking like a stage-five clinger, and I want to know that I don't necessarily need to make weekend plans because I'll be with him. Most of all, I want to be able to assume that I'm going to see him and hear from him regularly without feeling like I'm totally mentally unhinged. So, that begs the question — how do you push your summer fling into an actual relationship?
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1. Make Future Plans
I'm not talking about inviting him or her to a wedding in six months. Be casual about it! If there's a band you both like that will be in town next month, suggest that you get tickets. Now you have plans for September that don't involve a 11 p.m. text that just says, "hey what's up?"
2. Engage On Social Media
Sounds silly, doesn't it? But if you've been dating or seeing each other for a few months, it's time to broach the social media sea. If you aren't Facebook or Instagram friends, add him or her and see what happens. Does he or she wait weeks to accept your friend request or doesn't follow you back? Yeah, cut your losses and move on. But if you're already connected on social media, post on his or her wall or comment on a picture. Does he or she write back or comment back or post that picture of you two on Instagram? These are little signs that your fling could be heading towards some sort of real relationship.
3. Change Up Your Routine
Is your routine that you come over on Saturday night, hang out, and have sex? Time to switch it up. I hate to quote He's Just Not That Into You, but I'm going to do it: If a person wants to date you, they will date you. If he or she only wants you to come over and have sex with him, that's not a great indicator that he or she likes you for who you are and wants to spend time with you because you're smart and interesting. So, push for hanging out during the week. Suggest going out to dinner. If you've been acting like you're fine with the hookup, it's now time to start changing your behavior and see if her or she reciprocates.
4. Be Honest With Yourself
Why do you even want a relationship with this person, anyways? Are you ready for what that will entail? Great sex isn't a reason to get involved in a full-fledged relationship, and the comfort that comes with seeing someone regularly is also not a reason. Make a list of pros and cons to help you clarify what it actually is that you want — and if it's this person or not.
5. Have A Conversation
Seriously, I feel like I say this all the time. Just talk about it. If he or she is a mature human being, they'll be able to handle a conversation about what is going on between the two of you. Don't pressure them about it, and don't go all '80s romcom on them with crazy declarations of love. Most of all, don't expect the conversation to resolve immediately. Say something like, "I totally get that you might not have been expecting this, and we don't need to figure it all out right now — I just wanted to put that on your radar." Then, bring it up again in a week or so. (Better yet, he or she will bring it up!)
6. Have A Conversation, Part Two
If your relationship has been hookup-focused for the summer, it's time to subtly start changing the focus. Let your guard down. Let him or her in. Talk about your childhood dreams, what's going on at work, and how you've always wanted to go back to grad school. If your casual fling doesn't know the real you, how can they want a relationship with you? Vulnerability is scary, but it's the only way, folks.
7. Pull Back And See What Happens
I absolutely hate giving this advice, but sadly, it's so true. I have one friend who executes this classic move with an alarming success rate. As soon as you stop texting someone — guy or girl — their interest level goes up. Aren't available to hang out all the sudden? Interest level goes up. You can't do this forever, because people will get sick of you not being around, but it's a good way to gauge if he or she is into you. I know it's painful, but you can do it.