It’s Time to Stop Asking "What Are We?" Here's What to Ask Instead to Get Down to the Truth

Because life’s too short for situationships

Image by Paula Boudes

After three months of getting drinks on Thursday, stealing his sweatshirt on Saturday and hoping for more from him on Monday, you’re ready to have the “what are we” talk. Presumably, this comes on the heels of him telling you, “Let’s just see where things go.” At the time, you probably agreed to this (casually dating without a label, that is). But now, whether it’s been weeks or months, you’ve become possessed by the fantasy that he’ll turn around and ask you to be his girlfriend.

The problem? Your relationship is solely dictated by him, his timing, his wants. While you might be envisioning a silk wedding gown and a honeymoon in Bali, he’s still in the phase of “getting to know you.” (Translation: he’s keeping his options open.) Instead of holding out for him and taking things on his timeline, I have another idea in mind:

Stop asking, “What are we?”

First and foremost, asking someone, “what are we?” is a one-way ticket to giving away your power. It allows the other person to dictate what you mean to each other with virtually zero recognition of what you want or how you’re feeling. Plus, if he comes back with anything other than, “I want you to be my girlfriend,” you’re probably going to leave feeling even more confused than you were before. In that sense, this age-old question is really about seeking validation through the promise of exclusivity—and it has little to do with you or your connection. What’s more, you could risk placing an ultimatum on the relationship before it’s had time to develop. Still, before you try to push for commitment, you want to make sure you’re not projecting unrealistic expectations. So what should you do instead?

Start asking, “What do you make of me?”

Create an open space for honesty where the power is more equally distributed. If you’re stuck in a dynamic where you want more, try asking, “what do you make of me?” or “how do you see me?” The open-ended question might lead to an answer that illustrates to you how this guy sees you in relation to himself (i.e. “I see you as someone I want to be with”) or it could be a doorway to understanding how much this dude sees you. Does he answer with astute observations? (i.e. “You’re a passionate person who’s also kind of introverted”) or does he simply list physical attributes? (If so, run.) By asking him how he sees you, you get a sense of whether he’s right for you.

The best part? If his answers don't match up with what you're looking for, you get to take advantage of keeping your options open, too.

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Sydney Meister

Assistant Editor

Sydney Meister is PureWow's Assistant Editor, covering everything from dating trends and relationship advice (here's looking at you, 'soonicorns') to interior design, real estate...
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