- in Commitment
How To Talk About Where the Relationship is Going? – 8 Perfect Tips on How To Have the Talk With Him Without Freaking Him Out
This question is actually part of a much larger inquiry and response process.
When should you tell him anything you’ve been holding back for fear of bad timing or not getting the answer you want? What should he already know about you and you about him that would have set the stage for any divulgence that has not already been offered? What is the difference between an inquiry that just asks for clarification and one that could be interpreted as a request for commitment?
All relationships, whether they last a week or a lifetime have uneven desires and non-reciprocal commitments, sometimes as fixed and other times as flexible.
Partners who are authentic and transparent, those that have nothing to hide, and those who care enough to know where the other is at all times, are not mystical. They don’t have to be cornered, interrogated, or “handled” when it comes to the disclosure of intent. They are clear with each relationship developmental phase where they stand, what they want, and what they have to give.
Unfortunately most people aren’t confident enough to trust themselves when it comes to sharing vulnerable information or needs.
They most often wait too long to see if the other is available before expressing them or push too quickly to alleviate their own anxiety. That tendency to hold back for fear of loss lets them build up a bigger charge inside so that the eventual questions usually have too much emotion behind them and are often experienced as “coming out of nowhere” by the other partner. That results in a bottom line challenge or underlying ultimatum. Either can push a partner away who might have been fine with gradual inquiry and a more casual approach.
Because most males are more comfortable in being the pursuer than the pursued, they do better when the idea of commitment is theirs to begin with.
More females than males, on the other end, don’t feel that commitment means entrapment, just the new security platform from which to plan the next phase of the relationship. Those differences in response to “where is the relationship” going types of questions can set up a default that might never have happened if the partners had talked about those philosophical issues early in the relationship before they might pertain to their personal relationship.
- “What have past relationships been like for you in terms of unequal desires or needs?”
- “How have you and your other partners resolved them?”
- “If we ever have concerns about non-reciprocity about anything together, how would you be most comfortable talking about them?”
- “I’m a person who is very kicked back and comfortable in relationships when I kind of know the landscape and can predict different options. What are you like in this area?
These are only a few examples of an easy way to start off right. They are also great “screeners.” Any potential partner that you would want to stay connected to would be glad to talk about these more casual inquiries early on.
Dr. Randi Gunther, www.randigunther.com
The anticipated, yet dreaded, “Defining the Relationship” talk, better known in the shorthand form, THE DTR.
Just thinking about it is enough to kinda make my stomach do a few flips. Yes, you want to move this relationship forward, but Mister over there doesn’t seem to be making the moves towards talking about it yet. There are a few things to consider before you decide to breach the topic, and if you are ready for what the potential outcomes could be…
How long do I wait? Well ladies, there is no magic number of dates or months of dating that need to be met (that would make this question much easier to answer).
Think about these questions:
1. How often do you talk?
If you’re talking nearly everyday and throughout the day in some capacity with both sides initiating, that is a good indicator that things are moving in a DTR direction. If it’s sporadically throughout the week, you probably want to hold off until it is a little more regular.
2. How much time are you spending together?
If you are hanging out when schedules permit and it’s been increasing over the course of the last several weeks, that’s a good sign. Again, consider DTRing it. If it’s still fairly casual, no need to rush and enjoy the period of casual dating you’re in.
3. Who are you spending time with as a couple?
If you both know each others friends and have done several group outings this is also a great indicator of moving things forward. However, if you’re still uncertain about who is friends are and your friends aren’t too familiar yet, maybe hold out a little bit longer.
So the time is right, how do I bring it up?
Of course it will be easier after a couple drinks but that might not help you be clear. Hopefully if it’s the right time it will be something that happens easily and naturally. If things are as good as you have them envisioned, he is probably on the same page as you and will be excited to have this conversation and move things forward. However, if it happens that he doesn’t know what direction he wants this to go or somehow you aren’t on the same page, remember it’s better to know these things on the earlier end than later.
Haley Gage, M.A., LAPC – www.simplifiedatlanta.com
When you’re starting out in a new relationship and getting to know each other, your conversations will probably be superficial and benign.
This means you are probing to find his general likes and dislikes, quirks, compatibilities and compassions through discussions and overall behaviors.
However, in a significant relationship, you want to feel comfortable sharing any concerns and challenges you may have about the relationship. The ability to discuss important issues should serve to strengthen and deepen your emotional connection.
The “Where is the Relationship Going Talk” is appropriate when you feel your partner has the qualities and characteristics you like and want from someone you are in a long-term commitment. How do you open this kind of discussion? What do you say?
Here are some tips:
1. Be honest about how you feel, because you want to know if the feelings are mutual.
2. State your expectations clearly (you’re looking for a commitment, marriage, or just a casual fling, etc).
3. Pause for him to digest what you are saying.
4. Keep the dialogue going by asking open-ended questions. Do not manipulate the conversation with threats or intimidation, which would defeat your purpose.
In other words, your intent is to find out if your goals and dreams are the same.
Otherwise, it is time to move on to find the right person who shares your vision for the future. Keep in mind that some men just don’t know what they want, long term, and that it could take several days to sort the information and express his feelings. Hopefully he’ll realize he has a good thing going and doesn’t want to lose it!
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
This is a hard question to answer because there are so many variables.
My ﬁrst response would be: Do not do this too early in the relationship! Why? Because it smacks of loneliness and desperation. If your sole reason for dating him is that you wish to ﬁnd a permanent partner, you are going about this the wrong way.
Please pay attention to who he is and how you are when you are with him.
You simply cannot know about his character within a few dates. Before you start pressing for more commitment, please make sure that each of you enhances the other and that the two of you, for the most part, bring out the best in each other.
I think it’s ﬁne to let the gentleman know right at the start that permanency is what you’re looking for.
Let him know that your goal is to settle down. If his interest is solely dating, that’s ﬁne, but let him know that you will be meeting other men as well. That’s fair.
Listen to what he tells you that he wants. Believe him — he might feel differently in time, but don’t count on it. If he changes his mind regularly, you are in for a painful ride.
Do not whine as you discuss your future. State what you want, tell him how you feel about him, but do it in a matter of fact fashion. Any hint of clinginess is likely to turn him off. I guess I’m coming from a retro point of view, but, I do believe it is best if he brings it up ﬁrst. In these types of situations, he will surely pursue a relationship with you if that’s what he really wants.
Include him in the decision-making.
Asking him what he thinks about the relationship and what he dreams of for his future will ﬂy better than, “ I want you to make a commitment to me”. Years ago a gentleman said to me, “I’m sorry you are unhappy, but this relationship is perfect for me”. At least I knew how he felt!
Always come from a position of strength and self-respect and then, let the chips fall where they may.
Ruth Gordon, M.A., MSW, LICSW – www.foreverfabulousyou.com
When to talk about the direction of your relationship is the easy part.
When is whenever you want to know. Simple as that. When is according to your own clock, not his, not anyone else’s.
The only hitch is that you need to ask yourself the same question first.
“How am I feeling about this relationship? What are my hopes for the future? Is there anything I want that I’m not getting? What good things do I want to maintain? How do I imagine us growing together?…”
Be sure you know how you are doing before you go to your partner for answers.
How is more difficult, and again, will depend on checking in with yourself first. Be sure you state where you are coming from, honestly, before you ask him where he sees the relationship going. He, like you, is only answering for himself- not the relationship. Remember that you are not a victim to his plans.
Your partnership is a co-creation, and you each hold equal shares. As with any investment, it is your right and responsibility to get (and give) updates on it’s progress.
Elizabeth Baum, M.A., MFTi – www.elizabethbaumintegral.com