We've all at some point or another been in a situation where we start dating a person, maybe even watched Netflix and chilled, met the family, and made vague plans for future outings without clearly knowing where things are going.
Being in dating limbo sucks and is extremely confusing, yet it's a dark hole potential couples fall into when neither parties are brave enough to broach the subject or one of you just wants to keep things casual but is too selfish to own up to it. Whatever the case, you deserve some clarity especially if you really like this person and see a potential future with him/her. And that's where the exclusive relationship talk needs to take place.
"I had instant chemistry with someone I met at a photo exhibition, and we dated shortly after. I felt it was fair to 'pop the question' at a stage where we were feeling very comfortable with each other and were already seen out together by friends," says Davina Goh, plant-based lifestyle advocate and creative behind Davina Da Vegan. "His reply implied that he was just going with the flow and didn't want to confirm a relationship. I was of course disappointed, and being single for the past two years, I came to the conclusion that most men didn't want commitment, and I had to be okay with that. Thankfully, I've had very fulfilling relationships since, and am now happily married."
For Davina asking the all-important question, though terrifying, gave her closure and the courage to accept the fact that some unions just weren't meant to be. Unfortunately for a lot of us, pride and fear hold us back from raising the topic. Bottom line is, it's better to know sooner rather than later where you stand and whether it's worth investing time and effort in this particular someone.
TV host, emcee, and music DJ, Patricia Knudsen agrees. She shares, "It took Joey and me a while to have the talk. I was very nervous and scared as for the first time I was really head over heels in love with someone. We had a very rocky start because we were both very insecure about each other and didn't want to get hurt. There was ALOT of pride and game-playing between us but I was also 21 years old then. I remember the first time when he told me he wanted to be with me and no one else. It was very romantic...he wrote the lyrics of my favourite deep love song (Bloodstream by Stateless) which confessed how he was in love with me. I was very insecure so it was such a relief that he took the first steps to say something. Ten years later, we are still together!"
When asked if she had any words of advice for those currently in limbo, Patricia recommends talking. "It is so easy to get stuck in a hell-hole, where all you can think of is this person and it can consume you," adds Patricia. "If the relationship doesn't seem to be going anywhere and you feel stuck where neither of you are happy, you might need to be the one to just walk away. I know that it takes a lot of strength to be the one to make that kind of decision, but make sure you know that the relationship is not going anywhere and that it's best for both of you to move on. Honestly, you don't want to end up being in constant limbo and life just passes you by. Try your best to be independent and confident and know what is right for you."
The Action Plan
Getting shaky and sweaty about the prospect of having the talk? We feel you. Arm yourself with these three tips to help ease the situation:
1. Think before you leap Don't let outside influences push you to have the talk. Take time to sit down and really think about your partner and what you want out of the relationship. Be cautious not to jump into the serious conversation blindly as you will likely just go along with whatever your partner may be expressing. You can start by creating a mental list of what you want from the relationship. Remember, you need to do what's right for you and you'll need to voice out your own feelings and sentiments.
2. Be prepared for the outcome If you're both on the same page in terms of taking the next step in the relationship – fantastic! Unfortunately not every story has a fairytale ending. So it's important that you're prepared for both scenarios and you're emotionally ready to walk away with your head held high. "I feel that asking the questions is a very fair thing to put forth to make things clear between both parties. And if a man/woman turns cold after such a question, he/she has done you a big favour of saving you from further heartache. Staying open-minded to receive any sort of answer, and observing your reaction to it, will help you decide what kind of relationship(s) you seek in life," advises Davina.
3. Do it face-to-face Though it's tempting to text, email, or chat over the phone – don't. This convo should be done in person so nothing gets misconstrued and you'll be able to see and gauge each other's feelings through facial expressions and body language.