Look what you’ve done.
You’ve gone and found someone you actually have real, genuine feelings for.
Now that cavernous void in your blackened heart will be stuffed with a silly putty of wobbly legs, constant butterflies and neurotic fantasies of your firstborn. Congratulations!
Cynicism aside, falling for someone is fun. It’s the dates neither of you want to end. The Saturday nights out knowing you’ve got someone to go home to. The text messages that make you feel like your stomach is gonna fall out your big idiot butt.
But copping a serious case of the feels can also be incredibly nerve-wracking. What if the feeling isn’t mutual? What if they’re actually seeing other people and aren’t as serious as you? What if the apple of your eye sees you as little more than an overly-eager worm?
The only way to find out what another person is thinking, apart from performing some voodoo magic and/or reading their iMessages, is to ask.
Some people call it the ‘Exclusivity Talk’. Others refer to it as the ‘What Are We Talk’. The most seasoned of dating vets, though, refer to it simply as… The Talk.
When it comes to high-stakes conversations, The Talk is right up there. It’s arguably awkwarder than asking your boss for a pay rise, or asking a mate to wear deodorant for their stank pits.
Thankfully, there are a few ways you can prepare for this integral chat. Here they are.
Get clear on why you like this person
If you’ve been on a string of shitty dates before meeting someone you really click with, it can feel like a miracle. You might put this person on a pedestal, just because they’re seemingly normal and you feel a spark with them. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself and misjudge infatuation for actual feelings.
It’s important, especially in the beginning of getting to know someone, to continually ask yourself what you like about them.
Do you actually feel a connection, or are you simply enjoying the attention?
Is this person someone you can see a future with, or are there some personal deal breakers you’re choosing to ignore (e.g. they’re about to move interstate for work, they’re still in cahoots with an ex)?
Ask yourself these important questions before you dive in and have the talk. You might realise you’re more into the idea of this person rather than person themselves.
Consult your friends beforehand
You wouldn’t dare buy a dress without consulting the group chat, so why would you lay your feelings on the line to a dude without asking your friends first?
(I’m joking about the dress bit. Sorta.)
Let’s be real: if you really like someone, what your friends say or think about them will probably mean diddly squat. We all have that friend who ended up dating a total cretin no matter how many times you told them it would end badly.
But truth be told, no one knows you better than your mates. Chances are some of them have known you since you were a kid. They know your history, your preferences and they’ve probably got some juicy intel on your past relationships.
That’s why it’s so important to introduce your potential bae to your mates before getting really serious. Your friends will have a relatively objective view of the relationship, and will be better able to pick up on red flags you might have missed, or chosen to ignore.
Don’t jump the gun but don’t wait forever
Cool, so you’ve decided you definitely really like this person, and your mates are on-board with it, too. Now you need to choose a time to execute The Talk.
Timing is integral, here. Professing your feelings too early and you could blow it by coming on too strong, too fast. Wait too long and you risk ending up bitter and feeling like you’ve wasted your time if it doesn’t go the way you hoped.
Every circumstance is different, so it’s hard to give a definitive answer on when to have The Talk.
We’d say, though, if you’ve been on over five dates, you’re sleeping together and you’ve met their friends, that’s surely grounds for a chat about where things are headed.
Write out what you’d like to say
Before any big chat, it’s a good idea to get clear on exactly what you’d like to say.
It might be taking notes in your phone, or writing your thoughts down on paper – whatever works for you.
You probably shouldn’t bring these notes to the chat, but memorising certain important things you want to mention is a good idea. That way, you won’t kick yourself after thinking you should have said this, or that.
Keep it casual
Here’s where The Talk starts to look a little like a break-up. Everyone knows breaking up with someone is best not done in a restaurant; same goes for The Talk.
It’s best done somewhere semi-private. Having strangers witness things going ass over tit only adds insult to injury.
You want to be able to fully focus on this person and what they’re saying, and there are some places that make that easier.
A favourite is in the car. There’s something about driving and having the road to focus on that can put people at ease, especially blokes. If it’s just you two in the car, you’ll be sitting next to each other, so there’s an element of closeness; but the fact that you can’t sit and stare into each other’s eyes can take a bit of the pressure off. How else do you think Seinfeld is able to get such candid answers outta his guests on Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee?
Another tried-and-tested method is the ol’ post-sex chat. It makes perfect sense. You’ve just had sex and you’re laying in bed naked next to each other. It doesn’t get much more intimate than that. You’re probably both feeling comfortable and relaxed, too, meaning you’re more likely to be honest and open about how you really feel.
Beware, though: if the chat doesn’t go the way you’d hope, you can feel pretty shit laying there naked. On that note…
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
On that previous point, it’s important to consider all the possible outcomes of having the talk. Here are a few:
- They could also confess their feelings and you will live happily ever after
- They could confess their feelings but also not be ready for a serious relationship
- They could really like you but want to be able to see other people
- They could be attracted to you but more serious about someone else
- They could think you’re great but not see a future with you
Sometimes you’ll have an inkling about where the talk will go, but sometimes you’ll be blindsided. The best thing you can do for yourself is to mentally prepare for everything and anything.
Put a contingency plan in place if it all goes to shit. Have some mates on call who’ll take you out for a parma and a pint. Book a yoga class for afterwards. Have a pint of Messina in the fridge.
If things do go bad, be sure to take care of yourself in the resulting days and weeks. It mightn’t be the same as breaking up, but you’re still allowed to mourn what could have been before getting back on Tinder.
Don’t offer an ultimatum, but don’t take shit either
When having this talk, especially if you leave it a long time and you’ve invested a lot of energy into the relationship, it’s tempting to give the other person an ultimatum. You might feel like telling them, We either make this official or I leave.
It’s best not to do this because no one likes feel pressured into anything, especially a relationship.
It’s important to sit, chat and listen to what the other person has to say. Do they have a good reason to not want to make things official right now? Do they potentially see things changing in the future?
If, of course, you get the feeling they’re stringing you along, you’re well within your rights to call it quits. No one deserves to be kept on the back-burner. But calling it off in the hope they’ll realise their mistake and come crawling back? Usually doesn’t work like that. Make peace with the fact that maybe, they’re just not that into you.
Or… you could ignore all this advice and go with your gut. We apologise on behalf of everyone for the following cliche, but… If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.
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