Sexual Health

Defining Relationships: When is the Right Time to Ask?

It’s tricky at the best of times, to know at what stage of a relationship you are at. Are you talking, ‘seeing each other’, dating, exclusive or official? No matter how laid-back you might be, there will come a time where you want to know where you stand. If you’re an old soul like me, these labels can be somewhat of a challenge to grapple with.

“Where are we at right now?” is a question widely discussed in the media and even amongst our social circles. I’ve sat at many kitchen tables with friends, exchanging our woes of figuring out what to do next, low-key freaking that we hadn’t been “asked out” yet.

With the rise of dating apps to bear in mind, this has undoubtedly caused a major shift in how we navigate our romantic lives. And it is because of this, we know that who we are interested in could have potentially endless options aside from us with a swipe on the screen. Not to mention, we often become intimate with someone new without having a label, it’s commonplace but it’s still a minefield.

It’s very easy to go into something fresh with all-guns-blazing, asking all the questions from day one. I know how much you want to know, but giving time for your relationship to develop can work in your favour. Pick up on the signs and the flow of how things are – do you think you work well together? Have you got to meet their friends? Are you only seeing them in the evenings? Ask yourself, do you want to pursue it yourself first and foremost?

The hard truth of this is, there is no “right time” to ask the Big Question, I’m sorry to disappoint. When you feel comfortable about wanting to ask the question, you will know. I can’t tell you when that will be. However, I think it’s safe to say when you constantly find yourself asking “what are we doing?”, you need to nip the overthinking in the bud before it takes over.

Don’t dive straight in, go into the conversation with establishing what you want out of the relationship; what is it you want at this time with them? This will save confusion in the long-run. Yes, you could head in relatively relaxed and not expect much and continue what you are doing with the person – but ultimately no one else is there to address your needs.

In all of this, communication is key as always. Listen to your partner’s needs and wants too. It is rare for everything to line up exactly with what you want, but with open, honest discussion and a little flexibility, you can find a way to potentially make it work. Make it known that you are asking because you care, that will speak volumes.

There is a chance that your needs and wants will not match anywhere on the scale. Remember that some people take a bit longer to get to where you might be at. If it’s not meant to be, take comfort in the knowledge that you tried and you are no longer placing your time in the wrong direction. You will learn from it; your heart and time are too precious things, look after both.

I would not worry about who is asking – for example – if you are a woman asking a man let’s say. Whoever is opening the talk, it’s a sign of maturity – take some solace in that amongst the nerves that might shake the water. I have been the one before to find out where I stood. Similar to what I have outlined above, it came to a stage where I just needed to know after about three months of dating – especially as there was some element of an age gap involved. I found out that at that point, they already saw me as their girlfriend and referring to me as such with family and friends. It was news to me, but it was all well and good. However, I explained there had to be some chat about it. This notion was news to them, too.

It goes to show that irrespective of age or experience, people will have different ways of handling these things, which makes communication all the more important.