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“What Are We?” AKA, The Most Terrifying Question on the Face of the Earth

We all know what it feels like to have the, “What are we?” question running through our anxious brains at all times of the day. If you’re in that awkward more-than-friends-but-less-than-dating stage and have not yet established any sort of relationship, you’re only human if you find yourself worrying, wondering, and talking to your girlfriends about it until they too can no longer take it.

You may find yourself making comments like, “YOU are annoyed???? How do you think I feel?!” or “YOU don’t know what’s going on? NEITHER DO I! Help!” Thankfully, it’s okay. This is what friends are here for. Unfortunately, our girlfriends do not have answers. Their guesses are only as good as ours. Talking about it with everyone but the friend-boyfriend-crush-thing will not solve the dilemma.

Girls, clearly it is time to step up our game. The way we speak and the time during which we ask, “What are we?” are the factors that need to be considered, because let’s be honest, the majority of us have not been blessed with the courage to be so blunt. I don’t personally condone playing games with love interests, but this topic is not one to be brought up in such a straightforward manner. By asking the question directly, ultimatums are implied, which may put too much pressure on your possible future significant other. When a person feels pressured to put some type of label on a relationship, it leaves little room for thought. You may receive an in-the-moment response. In other words, the response you are given may not be genuine.

While it is important to ask this question without literally asking, it is also important for you to be serious. I have been stuck in a situation such as this one before, and I considered asking playfully, but was quickly whipped into shape by my friends, who told me that if I wasn’t assertive, he wouldn’t answer seriously. By making it a joke, you are simultaneously continuing the confusion. An ideal way to bring this up might follow something along the lines of, “I feel like I’m investing a lot of time into whatever this is, and I’m starting to wonder if it is actually anything. I’m not saying we need to draw conclusions right this second, but this has been going on for awhile and I think it’s important that I know whether or not this relationship is going anywhere. I like you, and I just want to protect my feelings.” This does not sound clingy, pushy, needy, or “crazy” at all. You have every reason to have grown feelings, and odds are, he already knows. You also have every single right to know if you are wasting your time. People who tell it like it is are the people who are respected. If he doesn’t respect the fact that you are looking out for yourself, he’s probably not the best fit for you, and you have no one to blame but him.

Like I said before, timing also carries great importance. Attempting to have this talk after two weeks may make you sound a little crazy. Don’t jump the gun. It is also necessary that you don’t drag it past the point of return. I know quite a few girls who spend as long as six months with a person, being confused the entire time. This is absurd and quite unfair to us. The longer we wait, the deeper the hole we’re digging for ourselves becomes.

Picture this–You have been in the, “I don’t know,” phase with someone for about six months. During these six blurry months, you are growing feelings. Your feelings for the person are becoming more intense with each month that passes. It is no longer avoidable, so you finally muster up the bravery to ask the big question—What are we? The response you are given goes something like, “I just thought our relationship was fun. I enjoy hanging out with you, etc., but I’m not looking for a relationship. I don’t see this going any farther than what it is right now.” Heartbreak much? If only you had been brave sooner, right? This predicament is our worst fear, and by procrastinating, we are only hurting ourselves.  

We often worry about having this conversation because we are afraid of the responses we may receive. We need to remember that WE come first. We deserve to protect ourselves. And lastly, we need not forget that the pain will be worse if we continue to put it off, so let’s do ourselves a favor, put our big girl panties on, and have “the talk” before it is simply past the point of no return.

Kanchan is a junior at James Madison University. She is in JMU's School of Media Arts and Design with a concentration in journalism and minors in both creative writing and Spanish. Her passions include writing, photography, music, and traveling. 
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