Consider the thirteen steps of modern dating:
We had coffee.
We met for a drink.
We went to dinner the other night.
We finally hooked up.
We’re kinda dating.
We’re dating but we’re still seeing other people.
We’re in a relationship but I don’t know if we’re committed or not.
I’m thinking about having the “commitment conversation.”
I just found out he/she’s been seeing someone else the entire time!
I guess you could say he/she is my boy/girlfriend.
We’re in a committed relationship.
It’s getting serious.
… a week later …
I’m seeing someone else.
Okay, so it’s not really that bad. But the point here is that people tend to “advance the frames” in their own mind while they forget to communicate with their partner. Every step of the way, they wonder about the relationship status and where the relationship is heading, but it’s so much easier just to ask.
I had lunch with a friend recently and she was really uncertain about where things stood with the guy she was seeing. I told her to be direct and honest and just ask him, and I was amazed at how many “buts” she had:
But I don’t want to scare him off.
But I don’t want to put pressure on him.
But I don’t want to seem desperate.
But I don’t want him to think I’m controlling.
Perhaps it’s a fine line, but it’s not desperate to want to communicate. And there’s a big difference between expressing curiosity and being controlling. It’s all in how you ask the question:
Are we in a committed relationship? vs. I want a committed relationship.
Are you seeing other people? vs. I don’t want you to see other people.
And if questions like these frighten off the other person now, it means that’s not where their head is at and it wasn’t going to go in that direction anyway. So you save a lot of wasted time and emotional investment and unnecessary suffering and emotional pain.
Personally, I always appreciated direct questions and a direct approach. It means I didn’t have to wonder. And if either of us didn’t like the answers, we could move on and we saved ourselves a lot of time.
If you aren’t sure when you are going to see each other again, then you’re not in a relationship. If he only calls you once a week, he’s seeing other people. If you haven’t talked about being in a committed relationship, you’re not in one. And if you are afraid to ask him if he wants you to be his girlfriend, he’s not your boyfriend.
Sure, too much honesty and directness can scare someone off. But no honesty and no directness will only prolong the uncertainty and waste a lot of time.
Paul N. Weinberg is the coauthor of The I Factor, an inspirational and aspirational book about connection in the age of social media. The I Factor was recently published to rave reviews and endorsements from some of today’s biggest celebrities, including Larry King, Jack Canfield, Marianne Williamson, and Sofia Vergara. Available exclusively online in print and ebook versions through Amazon.com and the Apple iTunes Bookstore. www.theifactor.com