When To Have The Exclusive Relationship Talk With A Guy

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Hi Nice Guy and Fuckboy,

I've been seeing a guy on and off for about six months. We met online. Our first date went really well — way better than I expected. He always plans our dates around things I have said I like doing or my favorite foods and drinks.

We've gotten pretty comfortable, and have had a few nights just ordering in, watching movies and drinking a few glasses of red wine and beers. We also have been out drinking with his friends.

To me, we have a great connection – we can lay in silence and just hangout on our own and it won't be awkward. Not to mention, the sex is great (although sometimes I wish there were more).

Between now and the last six months, though, a few things have happened. He's disappeared for a few weeks with no contact. I am stubborn and won't chase. I also know he still has an online dating profile... and I can't be sure, but I think there are other girls.

Apart from that, we are pretty consistent with messaging, although I don't feel we are going anywhere, which could be very much to do with me, as I can be a closed book. We've told each other how we feel in terms of liking each other, but nothing has progressed in terms of being in an exclusive relationship.

Recently, I got back from Thailand, and we have been out for a few dinners and sleep overs. Last weekend, we went for dinner with my best friend and her boyfriend, and two of his friends who are married. They loved him and we all got along really well. The next night, he had an event, then he came and met me and all my friends, and stayed over again…

It's getting to the stage where I don't want to see anyone else. I don't want to put pressure on him, but I feel I need to know where I stand so I can either keep dating or we can actually give things a go.

My question is, do I have a conversation with him, and how? I'm scared of feelings because I've been hurt before. So many things point to YES, but there are a few niggling things that make me feel like he's playing me.

Thanks,

Let's call me Kate ;)

Kylah Benes-Trapp

Kate,

First off, let me say that you sound like an awesome person and so does he. I really, really want this to work for you two.

From what you've shared (and you've shared a lot for somebody who refers to herself as a "closed book"), this guy seems like a genuine, considerate dude. If I had a buddy who did the same thing for a girl, I'd be fairly certain he had feelings for her.

However, I'd also assume they'd be dating by now. Hell, I know people who've been dating for years and don't treat each other as good as this guy treats you.

So... LOCK. HIM. DOWN.

As for him still having an online dating profile (the only negative thing I could find about the dude), I will confess that I'm engaged and still have one.

But here's why: The process of deleting dating profiles on certain sites is so unnecessarily complicated. (Then again, I'm also the guy who's paid for GQ subscriptions for three years having not read a single issue for two years because I haven't bothered canceling it.) As such, my profile has remained inactive for years.

My fiancée and I met on Tinder and when we became official, we made an event out of the profile deletion process. We took each other's phones and, over some coffee and dessert at the local coffee shop that we had our first date, ceremoniously deleted the other's account. We made it fun.

Plenty of Fish on the other hand? A nightmare to delete. Seriously. I've Googled how to do it, but got bored halfway through because it's so infuriating.

So, if that's the profile in question, his reason for having it still probably isn't as sinister as you're making it out to be.

But then again, you haven't made it official/exclusive yet, so he really has no reason to delete it, does he?

Based on what I've heard, you've reached the point of no return in this promising, could-be relationship: You two have to make it official. And quick.

Either that, or you can keep this thing going as is, but the likelihood of the exclusive status will grow less and less likely. Guys are very goal-oriented, so if there's no light at the end of the tunnel, he'll get bored and find another exit. (If this isn't obvious, this "exit" I speak of is a woman.)

I know it isn't fair, but women are assumed to be the more relationship-oriented gender. If you aren't pushing for exclusivity, maybe he feels like you aren't really interested in it. I know I would feel that way. And this guy sounds real nice, so I think it's likely that he may feel this way as well.

If you aren't pushing for exclusivity, maybe he feels like you aren't really interested in it.

I mean, you met his friends! That's the step before parents! No guy goes through the trouble of introducing a girl to his friends more than once unless there's relationship potential. Even moreso if you go on a double/triple date with them, which you've done.

From the sounds of it, you both really like each other, but neither has the balls to initiate the conversation about exclusivity.

Since you're the one writing us and it's 2016 (meaning and any and all gender norms at this point are bologna), I'm going to elect you do the deed.

So Kate, here's how you do it: Have a drink (but just one — let's not breach the topic wasted, just loosened up) alone together. After some back and forth, say, “Listen, I have something to tell you, but I want to take a shot first. You in?”

The alcohol combined with the clinking of glasses and the mystique of it all will make the conversation a little less awkward, I assure you.

Then, tell him how you feel. Tell him that you like him and you really see this going somewhere. Don't rehearse anything. Then, ask how he feels. Let him express his feelings.

It's going to be a terribly awkward conversation, but it's a necessary one. This guy's a good guy, so he's going to try his best to make the conversation as amicable and engaging as possible.

By having this conversation in person instead of over text, you'll get a more honest response from him. His response will be candid. I have a feeling he's going to say what you want to hear, but if not, at least you know the charade is over. No more “What if?”

I should add here that you should drive to the location separately (assuming you won't be getting drunk), just in case the conversation doesn't go well and you don't have to ride home together in silence. Just say you're leaving from work or something.

Also, it wouldn't hurt to send some flirty texts or snaps earlier in the day to let him know you're excited to hang out that evening.

I think that's about everything! It's time to open that book, Kate, and start a new chapter with this great guy. I really hope this works out for you.

Best of luck!

Bobby

Kylah Benes-Trapp

Let's Call You Kate,

Yes, let's. You seem great, Let's Call You Kate. I like you. I don't want to see anything bad happen to you. Which is why I beg you: please don't tell him how you feel.

Guys know when a woman likes them. We can see it in your eyes and feel it in your touch. We see it in how dolled up you get for us and how interested you pretend to be in our opinion.

This guy has known you for six months. He knows you like him. There is no need to announce this like it's news and purposely begin a discussion he's not comfortable being in.

It's better to let these things happen organically.

In fact, the reason he disappears sometimes is probably because he likes you. If this guy knows anything about keeping women interested, he's avoiding you as a way to make you miss him even more when he comes back.

He doesn't want to show you too much commitment too soon. He doesn't want to show his hand and drive you away. I can understand that.

What I can't understand is why we're all so obsessed with the possibility of shooting ourselves in the foot.

Just from the way you framed your question, the way you spent so much time rationalizing whether or not you should tell him how you feel, makes me believe you know the potential consequences of the action you're considering.

Of course you know the risk. If you didn't, you wouldn't be asking.

Still, you're going to push the envelope and approach him with this. I can just tell. When you're at the point of asking if you should, you're really just looking for someone to agree with you so you can.

But it would be the height of silliness to do so in this case. Things are fine now... yet you're almost looking for an excuse out.

You have to ask yourself if the net gain of being in a "real relationship" outweighs the chance that your plan backfires and he runs for the hills.

Think about it. Will your relationship really be that much different than it is now, if you have this talk and he agrees? What exactly will be different? These are not rhetorical questions.

Will your relationship really be that much different than it is now, if you have this talk and he agrees?

If you hang out, let's say, three times per week now, what will that number look like if you two become Facebook official? If you introduce him to your friends already now and you double date, what exactly will be different if you have this talk with him?

If you're not having enough sex now, what really will be different if you guys get more serious? Getting more serious is basically the antidote to constant fucking.

On the flip side, a metric ton of it will change if you have this talk with him and he feels threatened or pushed or just doesn't agree. You run the risk of collapsing the entire house of cards you built over six months.

And why? Not because the deck ran out. Because your fingers got jittery.

Then, your friends will tell you he's a jerkoff and didn't deserve you, and all that. But the truth will be that you ruined it with your impatience.

My favorite line of your inquisition was telling, because I think it appropriately illustrates a disconnect common across the modern dating landscape: "We can keep dating," you wrote. "Or actually give things a go." That was my favorite.

What do you mean "actually give things a go"? It sounds like you're dating already. You go out. You meet his friends. You drink, you dance, you fuck. You spend some time apart. You come back together. You drink, you dance, you fuck again. This is what dating is.

A lot is written on this website about the impossible standard men set for women, for what they should look like and how they should behave. But I'd like to point out that little is said about the similarly impossible standard women set for men, and for their relationships with us. These are very much two sides of the same sword.

Just like we idealize certain things about you, you tend to fantasize things about us: About what is expected of us, and the narrow parameters our relationships with you must fit between.

For example, it's been six months, so you must be exclusive by now. You've met his friends, so that must mean whatever it meant to your girlfriend and her boyfriend, or your cousin and her husband, or whatever.

When you girls gleam these benchmarks from other people's relationships and project them onto ours... well, we don't like that any more than you do when we project preconceived notions about body image onto you.

The main reason it bugs us is because, in our experience, it's the optics of the casual relationship you're most concerned with: What will people say about us if we've known each other for this long and aren't actually dating? My friend proposed to his girlfriend after eight months, and we've been dating for a year!

You don't really care about what we want or what we're comfortable with. Your main objective is to fit some sort of nebulous narrative.

Fuck the perception. Many men aren't interested in what other people believe. And many of us are really not interested in fulfilling empty benchmarks – “exclusive,” “official,” these are such puerile labels – just to make you feel better about what your girlfriends think of you.

We would rather enjoy what we have instead of fretting over ambiguous things that we don't, because we know half of those things are insecurities that exist only in your heads.

Look, these mythical relationships – the rom-com couple, the “normal” relationships – either don't exist or are exactly the types of relationships we consistently deride as archaic. The days of our parents — when you met someone one day, were exclusive the next and married after that — are gone.

So, relax, lady. And have a drink. Make your fucking boyfriend buy it for you. Because that's what he is, or on his way to becoming, even if he doesn't know it yet. That doesn't mean you have to rub it in his face.

Unfaithfully yours,

Let's Call Me Treez