There are countless ways to respond to the oft-posed sixth date question "What are we?" You might reply: "boyfriend/girlfriend." You might say: "dating." Other appropriate replies include: "doctors" (if you are indeed both doctors) or "two lonely curmudgeons searching for meaning" (if you are both Larry David). I'd guess that only 19 percent of "what are we?" relationship conversations go exactly as planned. Humans, man — when presented with people who actually like us, we tend to detonate the relationship.
Exhibit A: A woman and a dude have gone on five dates. They think about having the sex post-fifth date, but Dude asks, "What are we? Because I don't fornicate without being exclusive." (Except he says it in a much less obnoxious way.) Despite liking Dude a lot, Woman says "I have food poisoning" and calls a Lyft. Everyone is confused. Everyone loses.
Exhibit B: A man and a lady are dating casually for NINE MONTHS. After a morning romp during which Man may have accidentally let an "I love you" slip, Lady asks Man, "What are we? Officially dating?" Man says, "I'm just not ready for a relationship right now." He then lets a fart slip, rolls over, and the non-relaysh is over.
These are stories from my imagination, but I have a feeling they have happened to at least one "are we/aren't we?" "couple" out there. I went to the deep, dark corner of the internet — or, Reddit — to confirm that none of us know how to handle ourselves when it comes to defining relationships in 2017. Here are a few stories from male Redditors whose "what are we" conversations took a wrong turn:
1. This Guy Took "Being Exclusive" To Mean "Dating" (Same)
I said "we've been dating exclusively for like 2 months and we make out all the time. Are we boyfriend/girlfriend?" She started sobbing uncontrollably and broke up with me.
OK, so there is no reason this woman had to say "yes we are," but if she had this much consternation and pent-up tears over their situation, what was she doing for two months? It would be nice if we were all less afraid to pull the plug on a relationship that isn't working so as not to waste each others' time.
2. This Guy Was Dating A Very Confused Person
I've had this conversation a few times with a girl I'm currently trying to date. A couple of weeks ago everything was great and building really nicely. I remember asking if she was ready for something serious and she said, 'I only do long-term relationships and they usually start the way you and I have been going.' It wasn't a yes or a no, but I felt pretty good about things. I just recently saw her over the weekend and it was amazing. We had a conversation about the date itself and I was trying to get clarity on where we were and what the future looked like. Me questioning it at all sent her into full on anxiety mode and she assumed that I was expressing disappointment with her. She thought I was no longer on the same page as her. Clarifying myself didn't help and it's been about two days now and she hasn't responded to my messages even though I know she's seeing them. Frankly, I don't have time for this. I got out of a long-term relationship almost 10 months ago where similar circumstances led to poor conclusions. So at this point, even though it looked great to start, I'm just assuming that it's about to crash and burn hard, if it hasn't already. I honestly don't know what happened. But if I can't talk to a potential partner about the relationship itself, that's a huge problem for me.
Here's the thing, if you want to be with someone, you'll simply be with them. You'll find a way. You'll say "yes." This story makes me sad because all that this guy did was ask for some clarity, and this woman's anxiety-spiral and indecision means he probably won't ask "what are we?" in the future. I feel you, man.
3. This Guy Said "Yes" In A Panic
Went terrible. We had great sexual chemistry and I was single for a long time, but we were toxic, she asked and I panicked and said I guess we're a couple. the longest 4 months of my life and another 6 months to shake her off with therapy. Have courage and be honest with your self and your partner.
There is something to be said for replying to the "what are we?" question as honestly as possible, even if someone's feelings might get hurt. It's best not to skirt the question or say what you think the other person wants to hear, just to keep things going. Eventually, you're just going to end up in therapy/eating ice cream forever/blocking someone on all forms of social media anyways, so don't lie to yourself or your "SO."
4. This Guy Was Confused, But Then Got A Happy Ending
It was terribly awkward and we both left confused. We clarified the relationship the next day and we have been dating for 4 years now. I still like to joke around about which day is actually our anniversary.
SEE? Communication is everything. Imagine if these two cuties never brought up the "what are we" convo again and never ended up dating for four years? If you leave a conversation like this truly confused, bring it up again. On the other hand, if you're pretty sure you got a "hard pass" from your friend/hookup/date, let it go.
5. This Guy Told It Like It Is, And Lost A Friend
Yes, I had this two weeks ago. My best friend and I had dated from March through August and decided to call it quits - she was desperately in love with me but we are far too different to make it work. She expected me to change too much, but she is 10 years older than me and seeking a much different life. She's also a textbook narcissist but that's a whole other issue. We hung out as close FWBs for a couple months until two weeks ago she sat me down and told me she loved me and wanted me and it was driving her crazy because she can't even think about other guys. She told me I could either commit to her, or she won't talk to me or be my friend any more. I don't want a strained relationship, only to be her best mate. But now I have nothing at all, just good memories and he hope that when she meets someone we can still be friends.
THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T F*CK NICE THINGS WHO ARE OUR FRIENDS. This is textbook, but I commend him for being honest. I also think it's nice that he is giving her space — if someone you've slept with isn't ready to be your friend, they don't have to be. Let them go.
6. This Guy Had Every Right To Be Creeped Out
By date number 2 she asked me that. Mind you i've only known her for like 2 weeks at this point. Naturally I got creeped out and broke it off.
Everyone should do whatever it is they want to do when it comes to matters of the heart (except murder) but... there is such a thing as too soon. Date two, precisely.
7. This Guy Has The Right Idea
They never go well because im not interested in monogamy at this point in my life.
OK, so I'm going to assume that "dicklord_airplane" is a pretty upfront guy, as evidenced by his username. If he is letting potential partners know that he's not looking for a monogamous relationship before sleeping with them, I dig his no-fake-news approach. It's OK not to be interested in monogamy, just don't pretend that you are so you can put your P in a V. It's possible to be honest and upfront while still being kind. Telling it like it is is actually the best etiquette when in a "what are we?" situation.
In collecting these stories, I realize how many people I have "dated" or "seen" or who I have called my "hookup" or "sort of person" or "guy I'm seeing." If we're all going to be noncommittal monsters that leave relationships sitting in the gray area for months, then we need a word for these "in betweens" that is not "serious boyfriend" but is also not "hookup."
Some initial brainstorms include: my "naked-friend" or my "semi-person" or my "who the f*ck knows." A final idea: "the cute guy I need to grow the ovaries to ask to be my boyfriend." Asking "what are we?" is brave, friends, and I encourage you to do it when the time feels right. (So, not the second date.)