You’ve been on back-to-back dates for weeks. You can still smell their kiss on their skin. You think about them all the time, and you never have to wonder when they’re going to text you back. Everything between you and this new could-be-something partner is going so well that you want to pinch yourself ... but you’re also wondering what they’re thinking. You’re ready to define your relationship and take it to the next level. But what if you push too hard and freak this person out when you're trying to make things exclusive and official-official? It’s the same worry we all have when we’re starting to feel vulnerable and like our heart is on the line, but according to some experts, there is a way to go about the inevitable — and terrifying — ‘Talk.’
Lori Bizzoco, relationship expert, says there’s no rule book on why, how or when to define your relationship, but there are a few ways to go about it the discussion in a healthy, productive and respectful way. Here’s what to say—and what to avoid —when you DTR:
1. Do: Take Note Of How Often You're Seeing On Another
Thomas Edwards, the founder of The Professional Wingman, says if someone is making concrete plans with you way in advance, it’s a good indication that having ‘The Talk’ is something they’re thinking about, too. “A strong sign is there are plans to spend time together often and very far in the future. While most couples’ timeframes will vary, typically, you’ll start to see them get shorter as you get older, in some instances being as short as just a few short weeks,” he says.
2. Don’t: Call it ‘The Talk’
Edwards says if you really want to see where his head is, ease into the conversation by sharing a light-hearted story around a friend of yours who recently made things official with their partner. This will open up the conversation and ease into the discussion without making it stressful or like you need a label right-that-second.
3. Do: Express How You're Feeling
Both Edwards and Bizzoco say that if you’re feeling so strongly about someone that you want to make it official, it’s important to express that. Tell them how often you’re thinking of them, be open about how you feel in terms of relationships and what you’re up for. If the communication is as great as you think it is, they’ll be honest about how they feel too, making it more natural to discuss next steps.
4. Don’t: Worry About Who Brings It Up First
In heterosexual relationships, Edwards says the advantage of letting him bring it up first is that you don’t have anxiety over how he’s feeling, but if you really do think you’re on the same page, it won’t matter who says it first and he might even be thankful that you took the lead. “In this situation, it doesn’t matter who brings up the status of your relationship,” Bizzoco says. “What matters most here is that you have weighed both outcomes and are ready to accept wherever the conversation goes.”
5. Do: Take A Minute To Figure Out How You Feel
After way too many bad dates to count, when you meet someone promising, it’s easy to put on rose-colored goggles and put them on the pedestal of Tinder-Gone-Right. But Bizzoco says first, take some time to really consider why you feel so strongly about this person and why you would like to make it serious. “Feeling the urge to have the talk could be a red flag, so instead of asking where it’s going, make more of an effort to see this person more often,” Bizzoco says. “This will help you figure out your relationships emotionally and let it progress with ease.”
6. Don’t: Rush The Talk Because You're Afraid
“Most couples who are in happy, committed relationships have gotten to that point organically and naturally. Even when having the conversation, it was done more for formality than any misunderstanding of where the relationship was headed or what label should be put on it,” Bizzoco says. If you’re feeling pressure because you’re afraid they might meet someone else or that they might not feel the same way, the best thing to do is to give it more time. As she says, these types of conversations usually happen on their own, without making anything complicated.
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