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When and How To Have ‘The Talk’ In Your Relationship

Cain Parish

In This Article:

‘The talk’ – Either the start of a relationship or the end of it. It can be hard to confront someone with what might inevitably be a deal breaker or a conversation you can’t come back from. This article will show you how.

Two stick figures having the talk about their relationship

Table of Contents

Similar to waking up earlier, exercising, and eating less ice cream, we all know communicating in a relationship is important. We just don’t do it.

One of the most important questions you can ever ask is a time-honored tradition of every overly clingy one-night stand. Starting just after a very long pause, it’s the magic phrase:

“Soooo, what are we?”

An excellent question. In the best-case scenario, both of you are on the same page. There’s no disagreement, just clarification. Some excellent relationships come from this exact prompt.

But, more often than not, it’s a recipe for disappointment. Someone is more emotionally invested than the other, and the reason the talk hasn’t happened is that fifty percent of your ‘relationship’ doesn’t want it to happen.

The poor, brave soul that leads that discussion usually wants a relationship and is praying to God that their casual side piece lying next to them agrees.

It’s important not to be premature with the talk, so as not to look desperate. But if you wait too long, you risk your partner getting the wrong idea or things fizzling out. So, to help out, here are five signs that you might want to try having ‘The Talk” with your butt buddy.

  1. You’re catching feelings.

This is probably the most obvious sign that you should say something to your horizontal tango partner. Sex is a gateway drug for feelings. Over time, the intimacy the two of you share might lead to someone falling for the other. If that’s you, it’s your responsibility to say something. You can’t expect your partner to do the job for you.

Additionally, it’s crucial to not postpone asking for the relationship you want because you’re afraid of rejection. It’s not worth sacrificing what you want because it’s awkward or uncomfortable. The longer your feelings fester unexpressed, the worse things will be later down the track.

2. They’re catching feelings.

On the flip side, if you can see your casual partner starting to get more emotional, more clingy, or more interested in the relationship aspects of your affair, it might be worth asking them about it.

I know I just told you that it’s the person with the feelings’ responsibility to start “the talk”, but there are a lot of reasons that person might be feeling uncomfortable doing so, especially when there are power dynamics at play. Things like age gaps or differences in experience can make it really hard for even the most romantically inclined to ask for relationship definition.

It’s not a must, and the more amoral of you can get away without doing this, but for the sake of encouraging a more socially aware, healthy dating climate, I think it’s a good idea to check in with the people you’re sleeping with, just in case.

3. You’re not happy with how things are.

One of the most insidious tricks that all people (not just guys) use is pretending to be ignorant of the other person’s feelings. Suppose your partner isn’t noticing that the two of you are pretty clearly ramping up in emotional intimacy despite not committing to one another. In that case, they might just be stringing you along.

I’m not afraid to say that I’m guilty of this. It’s a very easy way to squeeze an extra couple of weeks or months out of a casual relationship that’s making you happy. If your relationship is ambiguous or slow to launch, enjoying the most of that grey area is totally your prerogative. If you’re not having a good time anymore, the best way to avoid being taken advantage of is to have the talk.

4. Your friends are starting to notice.

Everyone’s time frame is different. Some people wait a month before they make it official. Some people go for over a year. Some couples never make it to proper labels. But eventually, if your partner-to-be is someone you talk about a lot to your friends, they’re going to start prompting you to get your act together.

For some reason, the human brain is shocking at seeing things that we’re in the middle of. You might finally look at a calendar and go “holy shit, it’s been six months and I still haven’t wifed this girl up?”. That’s what your friends are around for. Friends and family have a way of checking you on your silly relationship mistakes.

If people around you are bringing it up, time to at the very least consider having the talk.

5. You just want to know.

It’s never too early or too late to have the talk. In a dating climate where everything relies on nonverbal cues and social intuition, the only way to cut through the noise is to ask. “Is this a date?” “Do you think this is a relationship?” “Do you call me your girlfriend when I’m not around?”.

Honestly, this isn’t just about establishing relationship definition. This advice really just goes for almost anything. If you’re uncertain about anything relating to your relationship, ask. The quicker you foster an atmosphere of communication between you and your partner, the better. I’ll say it in the words of your grade three teacher. There are no stupid questions.

Your gut intuition will tell you when it’s time to speak up. You’ll be staring at your phone or their face or something random, and the question will pop into your head. “I wonder if we’re a proper couple or not…”

If you want your relationship to be the kind of place where those questions have answers, it’s always better to speak up as soon as you think of the question. If you wish your partner knew something, tell them. If you want them to clarify something, ask.

Good communication starts with any communication. Check in on your partner’s feelings by… talking to them.

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Cain Parish

Cain Parish is the owner of A prolific writer, educator and relationship coach since 2019, he specializes in dating, relationships, emotional intelligence and social skills. He is also the author and creator of the world’s largest and most comprehensive database for dating and relationship advice, which can be found on his website. His first book, I’m Sorry I Egged Your House, is due to be published in 2024.

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