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How to Ask Guys Questions Without Seeming Needy

One of the scariest accusations in a relationship is being “needy.” Typically partnered with incessant calling, lovey-dovey pet names, and poor portrayals in movies, “needy” has become a quick insult and an even quicker way to push your beau away. To avoid this dreaded term, some girls sacrifice their relationship desires and refrain from asking certain status-related questions. But have no fear, ever-cool collegiettes™, there are ways to assert your relationship wants without sounding like Harry Potter’s love-crazed Lavender Brown. Here are four desirables and how to ask without seeming needy:
Are we exclusive?

Let’s face it girls, dating has completely transformed since our parents’ generation when Saturday night was the date night and people were clear about what they wanted from a dinner out. In college, some relationships form out of casual hook-ups. If you’ve been hooking up with the same guy for a while but are too nervous to ask him upfront what to do with that uncertain Facebook status, try talking to his pals. “When I wanted to know if my boyfriend and I were exclusive, I talked to our mutual friends about it,” says Nikki Fig, a former HC intern and student at Emerson College. “I wasn’t trying to be sneaky, but I was a little unsure about our status since we hadn’t stated we were exclusive.” By not asking him directly, you avoid the risk of rejection and might give him the courage to make it official.
But not all relationships have the benefit of mutual friends. So, if you’re without these liaisons and your goal is a relationship, be brave and ask him directly. Steve Nakamoto, author of Dating Rocks! The 21 Smartest Moves Women Make For Love, advises discussing this in a calm environment with no distractions. “A good place to talk about this is on a walk,” he adds. Wording is key here, says Nakamoto, who advises you say, “I just want to date only you,” then “gauge his response and let him stew on it for awhile.” Depending on the type of relationship you’re sharing, he might appreciate knowing whether you’re seeing other people or not, according to Eric, a senior at Wooster College, who has been in a relationship for the past two years. “If we’re hanging out and hooking up, it’s okay to ask about being exclusive. I just want to make sure I don’t contract something,” he adds.  Good call.
“I Love You”?

Movies have scarred women in connection with this relationship milestone since before we passed through the “boys have cooties” era. In a Patrick Dempsey film, “I love you” would come in the form of white doves and sweet treats, all ending with a kissing, happy couple. In our modern age of reversed chivalry, some women don’t feel the need to wait to hear “I love you,” but want to express it first themselves. This is true of Nikki’s friends who have figured out a way to guard themselves form the risk involved with expressing this sentiment first. “I have friends who’ve prefaced it with ‘you don’t have to say anything back, I just want you to know,’” Nikki says, adding, “This way, the guy doesn’t feel pressured to say something he doesn’t feel.” 
That said, admitting “I love you” too early can trigger the needy title, according to Eric from Wooster College. “If we’ve been dating less than a month or two, I’d say it’s rushed.” Alex, a freshman at University of Oklahoma agrees, adding, “People throw love around like a football. Every girl has always said it to me first but that’s just a judgment call.” Nakamoto’s call is that women wait and let the man say it first. If you are overwhelmed by the urge to confess your love, he recommends you preface it with a “watered down version as a test. [Try saying] I really like you…. I mean really like you.” Like the previous chat, go on a walk or watch a quiet movie together to create the best environment for this discussion. Sometimes, though, this emotion controls the tongue and it just slips out. For those accidental professions, add an “I said it and I meant it!” recommends Nakamoto. In other words, own it!
Will You Meet My Parents?
Now that canoodling on the couch has become a regular event and you’ve established the exclusive status, mom and dad are aching to meet this new man in your life. Casual is the best way to go for this meet. Avoid one-on-ones and opt for a less formal event, warns Eric. “Going to a family event is more of a ‘hey, it’s a party, come and you’ll have fun,’” he says. Nakamoto agrees, and recommends very coolly throwing out, “You’d like my parents, they’re cool. How do you feel about that?” This question is best proposed in a casual setting and carried out in the same format. While you’re eating lunch or walking to class, offhandedly suggest it. Prim and proper one-on-one dinners paired with awkward greetings won’t entice or enthrall your beau.

Do you want to stay together over the summer?
With the summer comes sun, tans, bikinis, and possibly separation from your school friends and boyfriend. The question about what to do during your months apart often begins looming over your status during the spring months. If you hope to stay with your man during the summer but he hasn’t acknowledged it, casually bring up the topic. “If he’s into her, then he’ll want to stay together over the summer,” Nakamoto assures.
Rather than asking him to stay together and waiting wide-eyed and anxious for an immediate response, use your savvy nature and give him time to decide. Be honest and forward, but utilize your charm. Nakamoto advises you “say something sweet like, ‘I’m looking forward to a fun summer especially if you come see me.’” It puts little pressure on the topic but brings it to a forum for discussion.This is not a statement to prepare early, however. Eric, the aforementioned senior, suggests not mentioning it until the summer has almost started because “it’s not worth making long term promises if you don’t know you’ll want to make it in two months.” So, enjoy the spring and let it linger a while longer if you can bear it.

Do you want to stay together after graduation?
Graduation presents a step into the unknown for all of us. Even if you’ve been dating someone for a while, a post-college relationship may not be in your best interest. Before inquiring about your status following graduation, decide if he is actually what you want and if you’re compatible for life after college.  Kim Olver, author of Secrets of Happy Couples, notes, “chemistry and attractiveness isn’t always enough to justify a relationship.” She suggests you decide what you hope to find first. “Knowing what you want and not settling for less can help you say ‘no’ to people who do not meet your criterion.” Once you’ve assessed what you want and where you’ll both be after May, let him know it’s on your mind in a relaxed way. Pete, another senior at Wooster College, says, “don’t make it a big issue. Keep it light,” though we know that is easier said than done.
Although “keeping it light” might be college guy approved, Nakamoto warns that you “don’t let a month go by without some sort of sensory connection.” Phone calls or planned Skype sessions allow long distance to be more intimate than in years past, but inviting him to a party, picnic, or some other sort of event during the summer, advises Nakamoto, will let him know you’d like to see him but won’t force any sort of commitment. Without heavy pressure, he’ll be inclined to consider the possibilities without feeling forced into a long-term relationship.
Fear of the “needy” title should never prevent you from gaining what you want out of your relationship. If something is important to you in your relationship—no matter how causal it may be—stepping up and speaking out will always be worth it. No matter your question, Nakamoto recommends a walk as the ideal spot for these conversations, adding, “walking together is a good way to create unconscious rapport.” With a calm environment and an equally composed proposal, you’re likely to avoid a needy title and gain the information you’re craving. And if he really likes you, he’ll be glad you asked whatever the question is.  Best of luck to you, brave collegiettes.

Steve Nakamoto, author of Dating Rocks! The 21 Smartest Moves Women Make For Love and iVillage.com contributor
Kim Olver, coach, speaker, and author of Secrets of Happy Couples
College men and women from across the country 

Rebekah Meiser is a senior studying Magazine Journalism at Ohio University, with a split specialization in Italian and Art History. Like many Italians, she is obnoxiously proud of her heritage and fully embraces it by consuming embarrassing amounts of pasta, bread and cheese. She currently owes a scary amount of money to the government, but continues to masochistically check Net-a-Porter and Urban Outfitters online for beautiful items that she lusts but cannot afford. Rebekah goes to school in the middle of some of the best cornfields in Ohio. Although she finds the location less than ideal, she has become an avid star-gazer thanks to the unpolluted sky. A true lover of fashion, her friends make fun of her for playing dress up as often as she does, but she’s not one to be discouraged. Rebekah also loves to run (read: alternate between jogging and walking), read fashion blogs, bake, and read magazines (of which she owns a forest-worth). She hopes to live and work in New York City after she graduates in the spring.