When Having ‘The Talk’ Leaves You More Confused
Originally Published on Thought Catalog
Everyone hates it. Women and men alike, even when they want to have it, get anxious and nervous. We go into thinking that it can either go really good or really bad, but in the aftermath – we usually have no idea how it went. Maybe it’s because we’re the generation that is too selfish and self-centered to love another person, but the talk isn’t necessarily about being in love. It is about defining a relationship that has, hopefully, been going in the right direction. Yet having that talk has the potential to derail two people who might be on the road to exclusivity anyway. Avoiding this awkward conversation as long as humanely possible just breeds more anxiety on both parties, even if they don’t realize it. Sooner or later, it is going to happen.
There is absolutely no way to analyze every situation and every talk. Everyone is different; there is no guidebook to how to have this talk because we are all unique individuals with our own experiences that have shaped who we are when it comes to matters of the heart. Those experiences matter. The individuality of whomever you’re having ‘the talk’ with, matters. He or she might have recently gotten out of a relationship, or say they’re too focused on their career, or say that they just want to see how things progress naturally. Most of the time anyone with objections to settling down will straight up say they don’t want a relationship, but still act affectionate and want to do things that you would normally do in a relationship – which leaves you confused. A majority of the time, the talk leaves you with more questions than answers. So what do you do when the defining the relationship leaves you with a partly cloudy definition?
- Remember what they’ve said – in fact, if you’re the type who overthinks situations then you should write down any key points you remember afterwards. If someone says they don’t want a relationship – they do not want a relationship. Whatever the circumstances, right now, that’s how they feel and you need to respect that. Your job isn’t to change their minds and it isn’t to run for the hills because you think they’re wasting your time. Your job – if you really like and respect this person – is simply to listen and remember. Every time you find yourself overthinking what transpired or is transpiring between you two, keep their feelings and words in mind.
- Don’t Run – I mean, unless the person treats you like crap. Don’t cling to them either though. If they tell you they don’t want a relationship but continue to treat you with respect and connect with you, you should continue to date them. It isn’t a waste of time. A committed relationship isn’t the ultimate goal of dating – a healthy, loving, fulfilling relationship is. And even if that isn’t the outcome, getting to know another person being isn’t a waste of your time. It is part of the human experience and if nothing else, it is practice.
- Yes, Practice – Dating isn’t like socializing with your friends. You’re usually meeting a brand new individual and figuring out how to show them who you are. Which isn’t as easy as it sounds, unless you’re super outgoing. You are a complex individual; you have different sides to you that your friends and family get to see all the time. Take the pressure off yourself when dating, stop trying to impress, work on showing them who you are, and focus on getting to know them in return. And that does take practice. You have layers to your personality. They do too. In the process of getting to know someone you will find out why they said they didn’t want a relationship or you may discover you don’t want a relationship with them. On the flip side, you could also find out that you’re great for each other but you shouldn’t fantasize about the label, about being ‘official,’ before you’ve had a real chance at discovering who that person is.
- Change Your Pace – I said don’t run, that doesn’t mean you can’t slow down. You should have a life of your own before you get into anything serious with another person so continue to build that life and don’t get so captivated by this new ‘sort of’ romance to the point where you neglect other aspects of your life. If this person said they don’t want a relationship, it isn’t the end of your world, bur it shouldn’t be the end of you seeing them. If they want to continue to see where it goes, keep going on dates but prioritize. If they don’t want to be serious that is okay, but they are no longer a pressing priority. You do not drop anything for them. No last minute dates. No pretending you’re in a relationship by giving him or her the benefits of one without committing. When you hang out, still have fun! Go out and do new exciting things together. Don’t be bitter because the relationship hasn’t progressed exactly how you want it to but assert some control over the situation at hand and change the pace.
- Changing the pace does a few things.
- It protects you from getting overly attached/over investing.
- It leaves room for him/her to continue dating you without feeling like you’re trying to suffocate or force them into a relationship.
- It sends the message that you have a life – which is important because unhealthy dependency will kill a relationship at any stage.
- It sets you apart. Most people invest more once someone expresses that they don’t have a desire to commit.
- It establishes the kind of respect you want in a relationship. If it works out, you’ll both be more likely to hold onto your independence and will already know how to be in love without being clingy.
- If things don’t work out, you’ll also be more likely to bounce back and not let this experience negatively affect your love life in the future.
Even if you do all of these things, there is no guarantee things will work out but that is okay, a relationship should be an addition to an already happy and fulfilling life. In a perfect world, you’ll have ‘the talk’ at the perfect time, with the perfect person, and live happily ever after. But you shouldn’t want that with everyone you date. It takes time to get to know someone. And in the real world it rarely works out the way we plan, both in our lives and in relationships.