The status of our relationships in this modern day dating world have become much more complex than they used to be. Many couples go through multiple stages until they’re officially declared an item. From ‘single’ to ‘it’s complicated’ to ‘in a relationship,’ the situation can get blurry. Although the beginning of a relationship can be exciting, it doesn’t always end that way. Some people date for several months without a label, and then the painstaking question “Are we exclusive?’ is asked and the relationship abruptly ends with no warning. It may not make sense, or seem even fair that one question can stir so much confusion or controversy. So, many women have learned to keep mum and stay in the ‘it’s complicated’ stage instead of turning their status back to single. But, instead of going backwards how do we proceed forwards to the comfort zone of monogamy? We spoke to psychologist, professor, relationship expert and author, Dr. Karin Anderson and she offered five ways woman can navigate through:
1. Play it cool. Of course you’re going nuts with the nebulous nature of your relationship and of course you’re looking for a more definitive understanding as to what sort of connection you and your “friend with benefits/booty call/boyfriend(?)“ actually have. But the #1 way to keep things complicated is to push the issue by having one of those, “I really need to know where this relationship is headed” conversations. Play it cool. Psychologists who study couples speak of The Law of Least Interest–whoever is least interested in maintaining the relationship holds the most power. Every time you bring up an issue, you lose power. And until your relationship has more concrete structure, you don’t want to lose any power.
2. Was it ever not complicated? A good question to ask yourself is, “Was this relationship ever not complicated?” Meaning–did you ever know where you stood with your man? If not, you probably have more information than you realize. This may be hard to hear, but if this guy has known you for some time, has enjoyed having sex with you regularly, has never wanted to legitimately establish himself as your partner, then it’s likely he’s never going to go in that direction.
3. Make him want to commit. Naturally, we can’t make anyone want to do anything, but we can certainly sweeten the pot. For example, when you’re together, demonstrate your affection in ways men respond to (e.g, a fridge stocked with his favorite beer, a TV tuned to his NFL and college teams’ games). When you’re away from each other, resist the temptation to be too available (i.e, absolutely no booty calls). You want him to recognize how great you and he are together, but those benefits can’t be his 24/7 until you guys are an official couple. It’ll keep him wanting you.