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Hey, Baby, What’s Our Status?

There comes a time for every couple to have the 'State of the Relationship' conversation, but that time is not always clear. The 4-Way panel talks feelings, sex, and labeling the relationship.
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Dear 4-Way,
I’ve been dating this guy for about a month. We have a genuine connection and he’s a great guy with almost everything I’m looking for. I’m starting to have feelings for him, so one day I asked him what we are, as far as our relationship status as a couple. He seemed alarmed by the question and said he just wants to be single. I was shocked, but said, “whatever happens, happens,” and he agreed. I left it at that, but got more confused when I saw him the next time and he asked me if I missed him, if I wanted to sleep over, and pointed out the toothbrush he left out for me to use. I’m confused. Should I be telling him to back off and stick to his word or let his words catch up to his actions? MJS, Chicago, Illinois

The Straight Woman’s Perspective: Rebecca Brown
I was curious about why you gave him the shakedown on your relationship status in just a month. But then I saw that he invited you to sleep over, which made me wonder if you’d slept over before, which would probably mean that you did more than sleeping. If that’s the case, I think getting some sort of status update from someone you’re intimate with—even if it’s just a “exactly how many other sleepovers are you having?” status—is perfectly acceptable. You probably should’ve framed it a little better, meaning you don’t necessarily need to know what song he’d like to dance to at your wedding right now, but you do need to know if he’s potentially fathering children all over the city of Chicago.

That said, there seem to be two camps of people in the world: people who need to put a label on a situation from the get-go (you) and people who will do anything possible to never put a label on a situation (him). They don’t always react well to one another. I think you asked for the relationship status (not the same as the hookup status above) prematurely, and I think his response was unsatisfactory, but expected. Now you’ve both said your piece and you have to deal with it, like it or not.

So if you’re looking for more than just a sleepover, you need to tell him that, but tread lightly because he probably felt a little Modern Bride-ed by your previous approach. You want him to know that a healthy relationship is your eventual goal with the right person, not a string of dates with someone who never wants to partner with anyone. If he truly does just want to be single, stop wasting your time and move on. Don’t be shy about telling him what you want, either; women can sometimes be almost apologetic about wanting to find love (if that is indeed what you want) but you’ve got to be clear about it and weed out the ones who aren’t serious.

The Gay Man’s Perspective: Darren Maddox
Hey, Chicago, I think you are the one who needs to think about your words before you analyze his actions. What I mean is this: you told us he said he just wants to be single, and then you acknowledged the fact by replying with “whatever happens, happens.” So, let me tell you what he’s probably thinking right about now: “GREAT! She understands I don’t want to be in a relationship right now but she’s open to still having sex with me. SCORE! This is a no-lose situation!” Are you okay with that? If you are, then you truly are in the “whatever happens, happens” mentality. If not, then you need to realize where he is and either accept that it may take him a while to get where you are, or be willing to continue on your quest for Mr. Right. Besides, it’s only been a month. He’s still getting to know you, so stop eyeing that Vera Wang wedding gown. When and if the boy comes around, you’ll know it. Until then, just enjoy it for what it is. 

The Straight Man’s Perspective: Chris Kennedy
First off, you didn’t need to have the talk about your status with him after only a month. According to my official estimates, in a month’s time span. you’ve probably seen him about ten times. The first few dates are quite negligible because you’re both doing the clunky, get to know you/selling yourself stuff. So really how is anyone supposed to know where you’re at and where it’s all going after a handful of dates? No sane person has an accurate read on things at that point.

Now, if you’re looking for an insane guy who will profess that you’re the one and discuss the number of children you’ll have together and the location of your starter home, there are a few of those out there. But they’re likely either incarcerated or contestants on The Bachelorette. So his answer that he wants to remain single was really the only honest response. It was simply too soon for him to know the direction and status of things. Because he’s understandably uncertain, he’d rather stick with what he’s familiar with (being single) than commit to something he felt was too soon to make a decision about (your status). 

His statement doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you or doesn’t want you around. He does. His actions show it. He just isn’t sure where it’s all headed and didn’t want to mislead you. That’s reasonable, right?So let me turn this back to you since you were smart enough to write in. Why don’t you stick to YOUR word and let whatever happens, happen. A bachelorette who forces the status issue will stay a bachelorette, which is fine if you want a TV show, but not if you want a great mate.

The Gay Woman’s Perspective: Jody Fischer
I’m curious as to why you approached the “how serious are we” talk in the way you did. From what you write, it seems like you left the entire question up to him. You didn’t share with him that you feel a genuine connection and that you’re developing feelings for him; you just asked him to define your relationship status. Is this really the communication style and type of rapport you want to foster in this relationship? If someone I was dating asked me to define our relationship in this manner, I think I’d be alarmed, too.

What I’m saying is that actions do indeed speak louder then words. And from what you sent in, I don’t hear your words or see any actions from you that show him how you feel. So if you want him to talk the talk and walk the walk, lead by example. That said, the toothbrush incident seems to be a roundabout way of saying that he’s into you. One of you needs to man up and talk about your feelings.

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