How To Feel Confident Having That "What Are We?" Conversation, According to Experts
Defining where you stand with someone has become a crucial part of relationships these days. It's not always safe to assume that you're automatically in a relationship, even if you talk all the time, spend most of your free time together, and are only sleeping with each other. (I know.) To establish where you stand with someone, you need to have the daunting "What are we?" talk, and that's not easy for some people — myself included. If you want to know how to feel confident having that "What are we?" conversation, fret not. I have your answers, thanks to a little help from the experts.
Every relationship is different, right? So, there's not one perfect time to have the "What are we?" conversation. For some couples, defining the relationship can happen immediately. For others, it may not happen until months down the line, even after you've both already said "I love you." The timing varies, but once you establish what you are (or aren't), you can either move forward together, or move on to someone who wants the same things as you.
When you decide to have the conversation, remember that you are a star! If someone doesn't want to be with you in a more serious way, that's their loss, not yours. You will find someone who wants what you want, and that'll be the person who deserves you. But even so, when you are ready to have the "What are we?" conversation, you may still be incredibly nervous, and understandably so. Even though the conversation may not be easy, "like taking off a Band-Aid, sometimes you just have to start, even if you're scared," Erika Ettin, dating coach and founder and CEO of A Little Nudge, tells Elite Daily. And with that, let's dive into four ways you can feel confident when you decide to have "the talk."
1. Think about why you're even nervous in the first place.
Figuring out the reasons why we feel the way we feel is often a lot harder than it seems. Our minds (and hearts) have a way of running away from us and not really showing us why. So, thinking about why you're nervous about the talk in the first place can be tricky. "Is it because you don't think you're looking for the same things? In that case, I contend that it's always better to know sooner rather than later so that you can make an educated decision as to whether to stay with this person," Ettin says. "The longer you wait to ask because of sheer nerves or subconsciously already knowing your goals are not aligned, the more emotionally you'll be invested when you do eventually talk it through." And the more emotionally invested you are, the more it may hurt if the person you want to be with doesn't reciprocate those same feelings.
2. State your requirements.
Like I said earlier, you're a star, and as a star, you have to stand up for what you want. If the person you're dating just wants to keep it casual, good for them! But if you want something serious, giving up on what you want just to keep them around isn't fair to you. "If you're not on the same page, walk. He's not mysteriously going to get on the same page later, unless he just feels like it. You've got to put your requirements," Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Elite Daily. "If he's not going to define the relationship, then this isn't going to happen, and you need to walk. It could possibly be that he just wants a little more time, and that's OK, it's a little negotiation. But when you're way off, no. Just walk." And trust me, I know how much easier that is said than done. But remember what you deserve!
3. Don't be demanding.
Now, just because you should stand your ground on what you want, doesn't mean you should be demanding that they match that. "There's a difference between saying what your needs are and being demanding," Trombetti explains. "You don't want to be demanding. You just really want to know what your needs are." Find that middle ground between stating what you need and not coming across like you're trying to force them into a decision they're not ready to make. Remember: You shouldn't have to convince anyone to date you.
Let's say they make the decision to DTR because they want to make you happy. Down the line, that could cause friction in your relationship. The same way you're entitled to want what you want, they are, too. But it can definitely hurt if you both want different things and you end up having to walk away.
4. Don't try to change them.
Trombetti says that a common mistake is when people think they can change someone's opinion, or just change who they are in general. "When a guy clearly states what he wants, they try to change it or prove to him that this one will be different, and they try to make him do different," she elaborates. But unfortunately, the same way you want someone to accept who you are and not try to change it, you shouldn't try to change someone else. But that doesn't mean you have to stick around if you don't like who they are or the decisions they make.
So remember: If the person you're seeing doesn't want to have the "What are we?" conversation, or they don't say what you wanted to hear, it's OK. There are plenty of fish in this mighty sea we call life. "You can meet all these other people, but there's only one you," Trombetti so kindly reminds us. "And if he really likes you, and he realizes that you're not playing around, and you just say 'fine' [when he doesn't want to DTR,] and you disappear. Guess what? That's your best chance of getting what you want. He might come back," she says. And if they don't? That just gives you the opportunity to find someone who won't bail when you decide you're ready to take the next step.
Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!