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Sex + Relationships

Why Asking “What Are We” Isn’t Necessarily A Bad a Thing


Being in a ‘sort of’ relationship is the worst place to be. You talk everyday, you hang out, you know it’s not quite friendship and yet calling it a relationship would be an insult to relationships.


The question “what are we” has gotten a pretty bad reputation. It’s seen as this desperate plea for a relationship and it’s said that if you need to ask, then you already know, you’re just refusing to acknowledge the truth. 


But it’s really not that simple. These days dating is never as easy as ‘you’re either together or you’re not’. When you’re in that ambiguous middle ground, it’s important to communicate how you feel and gain clarity about the situation.


Good communication is essential from the very first encounter. Even though it’s the pre-stages of a relationship, if you are able to listen, understand and respect each other’s opinions, it’ll create a stable foundation for the actual relationship. 


It’s also important to know what you want and stand by it. Before you ask the question, you need to be prepared for what happens next. 


In an ideal world, both of you will be on the same page and the question will be more of a formality confirming that fact. 


Unfortunately, things are not always that simple. Maybe you would like to keep things casual and the other person is ready for a full time commitment. Or you might be thinking you are ready for the next step and they have been contemplating ending it. If you are ready to ask the question, you need to be ready if things don’t go the way you want them to.


So what do you do when you want out of that gray area and into one of the other more stable colours?


Be straightforward. You’ve been confused for long enough. Resist the urge to over explain and ramble about your feelings. It’s easier for both of you if you don’t leave any room for confusion. 


It can be as simple as saying, “I’ve enjoyed spending time with you, but I’m looking for someone who is open to taking the relationship to the next level. Is that something you would be looking for as well?” Whatever you say, make sure it’s clear and direct.


Have the talk face to face, there is nothing worse than waiting hours for a response to a serious question. 


Although the topic is serious, how you have the conversation doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to sit down and utter the ominous words “we need to talk”. Keep it light, tease that you’d like to know if you know if you can finally delete Tinder or if it’s time to get a premium subscription. 


Lastly, give the person time to think. There’s a chance the other person hasn’t given the situation much thought. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to be with you. It’s better to give the person time to reflect on their own feelings, rather than rush them to give you an answer right there and then.


Dating isn’t nearly as easy to navigate as it should be. If you find yourself in a hopelessly ambiguous situation, rather than stay confused and miserable, letting someone else control your dating life, ask the question and be prepared to walk away if the answer doesn’t satisfy you.

Law graduate at DCU.
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