Is it time for a Relationship Defining Talk?

throwaway101990 asks: 

So, I (24F) was dating my ex (24M) for about two years and we broke up in May. I had surgery on my hip in April and was out of work for two months. Still saving up money to move out…makes dating awkward because no one can come back to “my” apartment. The recovering from hip surgery also makes sex impossible; I’m just not healed that far yet. None of this is that big of a deal really because the plan was to just not to date. My ex and I are best friends. I can’t imagine losing him from my life. The break up was COMPLETELY mutual. It was a one-sided relationship and I was exhausted supporting him and he felt awful not being able to be there for me.

The problem came in when a guy (24M) from work asked me out. He is actually a really great guy. I didn’t think that much of it because I didn’t think I liked him that much. Everything before my ex for me was one night stands and no commitment. I’m great at no commitment…or at least I was.

This guy is actually just what I need and I think I fucked it up. I’m so bad at dating I’m totally this straight forward person. All I want to do is ask him if we are dating, does he like me, can he deal with my baggage and make the claim that I’m totally worth it. He is calm and together and responsible. We had one date and every other time we’ve “hung out” has been with his friends (2). My friends tell me that it’s a good thing to hang out with his friends. I was blown off yesterday 4th of July and ignored today (one text). I was trying to be low-key and get some one on one time. But it’s killing me that I feel like I can’t just ask him. I feel like I’m being friend-zoned (honestly new experience). However, I super self-conscious after my surgery and being unemployed for so long I know I could be blowing everything out of proportion.

Demetrius says:

Well, this is a bit complicated. It sounds like you’re dealing with some issues regarding your own perception as someone worthy of being in a relationship, and when/how/if you should have a relationship defining talk. Let’s tackle these issues one at a time, shall we.

Being temporarily out of work and living at home with parents can make dating difficult in a number of ways, but it doesn’t make you completely undateable. If you’re upfront and honest about your situation and someone wants to date you, well then I think you’re pretty datable. Pro Tip: Even if no one is telling you directly that you’re datable, 99.9999% of the time you’re still datable. That goes for just about everyone out there. If you’re under/unemployed but can afford to date (even if those dates are free/cheap) and you’re honest about it, by all means, date the people who want to date you. If you’re living at home, that’s cool too, I just hope you’re meeting people who can take you to their place when or if you want some Adult Privacy Time. I’ve dated since I was 18 and I moved out on my own at 21, so I have some experience dating while living at home. Living at home and being broke most of the time didn’t stop me from going on dates, and it actually helped me get really good at planning fun low to no cost dates. There are very few situations where I would say definitively that you shouldn’t date, but having to briefly stop working and having to move in with your family isn’t one of those. You might have to change how you date of course, but it doesn’t stop you from meeting new people. Same goes for the surgery. If you’re recovered or recovering and can get around, there is nothing stopping you from dating. Same goes for sex, but make sure you clear it with your doctor first. According to the Internet’s favorite doctor/anxiety generator WebMD the average wait time is 4-6 weeks after a hip replacement so you’re probably in the clear for some sexy times.

You would think that a combination of Surgery, Unemployment, and Living at Home would be bigger barriers to a relationship but surprisingly, they are not. Most people would rather have a surgery than have an Relationship Defining Talk , so I just want to applaud the fact that you had one and want to volunteer to do the other. You’re braver than most, that’s for sure. In all seriousness, when and if you should have a Relationship Defining Talk is entirely dependent on whenever you feel like you’ve reached the point where it’s necessary. There isn’t a hard and fast rule, but you’re probably ready to have the talk once you’ve gotten to the point where you think to yourself “I cannot put this off anymore, this uncertainty is killing me”. When I describe the steps on how to have a Relationship Defining Talk its going to sound a bit clinical, so feel free to soften up my language. I’m prone to laying things out as if they’re steps you’d take to put together a coffee table, so if you diverge a tiny bit I wont begrudge you.

Here’s how you have a Relationship Defining Talk:

  1. Tell the person you’re seeing you want to talk about your romantic situation
  2. Tell that person how you’d like for things to progress and what some ideal next steps are (ex. Officially a couple, monogamous, disable your dating profiles)
  3. Ask them how they’d like for things to progress and their preferred next steps are
  4. When having the talk, be open to hearing their side of things
  5. Determine if you’re both on the same page, or at minimum in the same book
  6. If yes, AND the new status sound agreeable to you both, confirm your new status and seal it with some heavy petting (recommended)
  7. If no, determine if you still want to see them or end things

You might have noticed that I didn’t say to ask “What are we?”. The reason why I skipped it, besides the fact that it sounds like a terrible cliché, is that I think you should make the Relationship Defining Talk exactly that, a Talk. Not a question and answer session where you put someone on the spot, but a conversation. An important thing to remember is if you’re having a Relationship Defining Talk and you realize that you want different things, don’t treat this micro-rejection as an insult. People occasionally want different things, it happens.

I wish you the best of luck in your recovery, finding a new gig, getting out on your own, and your upcoming Relationship Defining Talk. All those things can be scary and tough, but I think you’ll do fine.

Good Luck Out There.

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