Knowing where we stand, especially when we’re in a relatively new relationship or there’s enough ambiguity that there’s uncertainty and possibly anxiety about whether we’re on the same page is crucial. It helps us to build any subsequent relationship on a healthy, honest and mutual foundation, but it also allows us to approach our relationships from a place of self-care. In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I delve into why we get so stressed by defining the relationship conversations and how to gauge whether it’s time to talk.

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Nuggets from the episode

  • Defining the relationship conversations are about knowing where we stand. This allows us to establish common ground and to create healthy boundaries.
  • When we operate in a situation based on assumptions, we don’t make emotionally responsible decisions for us or the other person. 
  • We have to be willing to represent our position even though it might be different from the other party’s. 
  • Broaching the subject of what we want or what the relationship is or isn’t helps us (and them) to have realistic expectations. We have an opportunity to get honest about intentions, and, yes, in some instances, address issues that maybe we were unaware of.

Sometimes we want to know where we stand in a relationship but also don’t want to know. We’re afraid that we’ll hear something we don’t want and that it will have to end. We fear admitting what we might already know but are pretending that we don’t.

  • It’s easy to assume that because we said that we wanted a relationship on our dating profile that we don’t need to broach the conversation about what they want. Um, yes we do. Plenty of people say that they want a relationship on their profile because they don’t want to be honest about their true intentions.
  • While defining the relationship conversations can be about moving into a relationship or elevating the commitment, it might be about, for example, establishing that you are dating as opposed to ‘just hanging out’.

We don’t have to judge us (or them) for wanting something different.

  • We are not owed a relationship because we were nice to them or because we’ve been seeing them for X weeks r months, or because we’ve been willing to bend boundaries, sleep with them or whatever.
  • It helps if we avoid starting these conversations with “We need to talk”. That gives the impression of doom, not a collaborative conversation.
  • There are no hard and fast rules about when to define the relationship. If we try to define the relationship before we know enough about the person to make that conversation feel organic, we’re fast-forwarding us and them. Knowing what we want or having a sense that the relationship is mutual and progressing is also another good sign.
  • Sometimes we fear vulnerability and owning what we need and want. We try to get the other party to go first. If we’re only willing to say what we want when someone else has said it, how do we know what we want?  

We wonder, Why can’t they go first? We’re the ones who feel uncomfortable so it’s up to us to relieve us of our discomfort. 

  • If the only time we’re ever willing to ask questions is when we’re simmering and seething, that says more about our approach to honesty and intimacy than it does about the relationship.
  • Defining the relationship conversations aren’t a one-time thing; it’s an organic process. It’s how we interact combined with conversations that communicate our intentions, needs and desires.
  • We can’t move from stage one to two without being in mutual agreement about what the relationship is. 
  • If we are consistently honest about who we are then conversations about what we need and want won’t be so scary.
  • Whatever relationship we’re trying to define, as long as we’re on the same page and its mutual
  • We sometimes wonder, What if they change their mind and decide they want the same thing as me and I’ve already left? If they don’t want what we want, stepping away allows us to respect their position and theirs. They get to figure out what they want. That’s not something they’ll need to do if us staying communicates that we are not serious about what we want.

Links mentioned

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