On “What Are We!?” [Dear DBN]

In life, love is the treasure and no one has the map. We’re all bumbling fools on a quest no one will admit they are on. This week, why the bumbling fool technique doesn’t work and why communication does.

What’s the difference between a date and just hanging out between two people?

If someone says, “You want to grab lunch?”, you are likely hanging out.  If a person says, “Would you like to get dinner Friday night?”, that’s probably a date.  Your best indicator, though, is physical contact.  Footsie?  Sitting so close your thighs touch?  Holding hands?  You might be on a date!  If you’re not, that kid’s weird!

It’s a date if they asked you, and only you, to go do something specific at a certain time.  And I’m not talking about, “Do you want to study later?” or “Want to grab dinner in a bit?” I’m talking about “There is this thing, at this time, that I want to do with only you, that has no correlation to other obligations we may mutually have.”

Also, any time you get the feeling, “Oh shit, is this a date?”  Yes.  It’s a date.

So I’ve been FWB with this guy since around thanksgiving, but it’s something we had been talking about since the summer. We’ve both always been attracted to each other since we met like four years ago, but now this friends/dating/gray area is getting a little weird. It’s not just sex – we go to yoga together, get breakfast and text about random stuff. But neither of us are entirely sure we want a relationship. I’m starting to think I want more but don’t want to ruin what we have. Thoughts?

You either want to be in a relationship or you want what you have.  They’re two different things and you need to choose.  A third option is to remain in an indecisive limbo where you don’t vocalize your needs and remain acquiescent to feeling mildly satisfied.  That third option is only really useful if you like being dramatic.  Do you?  No?  Then choose: you either want to be Friends With Benefits or you want to be in a Relationship.  Should you know off the top of your head?  Maybe not, but think on it.  My guess is that if you’re writing anonymously to advice columns, you kind of want to be in a relationship.

Think of it like this: you’re an intern and you want to be hired full-time.  They’re going to let you keep working for free for as long as they can, so it’s up to you to go for the promotion.  And if they say no, better to know now so you can get a job somewhere else.  You got some experience, you had some fun, but sometimes if you want something more, you need to be the one to ask for it.

I’ve been casually hooking up with the same guy for a couple of years now and it’s recently turned into us starting hanging out a little more. When we’re together, he’s so there and acts like we’re dating. When we aren’t, it’s like I have no idea what he’s thinking/feeling. Do I even risk making it weird by bringing up my feelings? Or is it just a lost cause by now? 😦

I’m sorry – for a couple of years?  You know what’s weirder than bringing up your feelings?  Not bringing up your feelings.  You are confused, lost and seemingly worried – would weird make it worse?  I hate to break this to you, but weird is a whole lot better than locking your feelings in a jar in efforts to not make some guy feel a little uncomfortable because you might actually have desires, wants and needs of your own.

Newsflash women: you have feelings.  Guys have feelings.  Animals even have feelings because don’t pretend you’ve never seen a dog look guilty!  And we are all entitled to express those feelings in a responsible and honest way. By no means should you get drunk and throw a tantrum, but please, learn to talk to people.  Stop being so embarrassed about what would make you happy.  You want the promotion?  Ask for it!  You want to be exclusive?  Say so!  You want to eat Italian tonight instead?  Little Italy, look out!

Is there context and timing and exceptions?  Of course.  But the key to a good relationship of any kind, whether that be physical, romantic, platonic, familial, professional, what have you, is good communication.  And if you don’t feel like you can communicate honestly with someone without it ruining the relationship, then maybe it’s not a relationship worth pursuing.  We spend so much time acting like wanting to be in a loving, committed relationship is something to be ashamed of, but what’s truly shameful is denying yourself happiness out of sheer fear of vulnerability.  Will you get what you want if you ask for it?  Maybe not.  But how’s anyone going to know you want it if you never ask?

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