“Where is this relationship going?”
Does this statement send chills down your spine? Want to make you crawl inside your own shell and hide until the words fade into the night? What is this obsession that women have with The Talk? Why can’t they just let it lie and let the relationship, or whatever, run its natural course without questioning, analyzing, talking, talking, talking?
There are several motivations behind The Talk for women. Primary amongst them is the fact that we have spent the better part of our dealings with guys, from junior high on, having no idea what is going on inside their heads. While we feel there is a rational reason behind everything we do (bear with me), we can’t for the life of us figure out what exactly is the thought process (let alone comprehend the horror that there may not be one) behind any of a man’s seemingly inconsistent and erratic behaviour. While a man’s instinct when he doesn’t understand the opposite sex’s behaviour is to shrug and turn up the football game, a woman’s first instinct is to HASH IT OUT. Get down to the bottom of it. Get some answers. Unfortunately for you.
Admittedly, there are some other motivations behind The Talk. Like anyone, women don’t like feeling foolish. We don’t like thinking we’re in a relationship, only to find out to our great embarrassment that it was just “a thing.” What is more humiliating than that? We are really just trying to protect our hearts, and yes, our pride, from feeling like an ass by assuming too much.
We also want to hear you say it. That warm feeling you get when a guy drapes his jacket over your shoulders to protect you form the cold can quickly turn icy when he follows that up by jumping up and giving some girl a giant hug while she straddles him. Gestures are nice, but nothing beats the words, “I really like you and want to give this a shot.” Some of us will even settle for, “You’re the hottest girl I have ever met. I only want to sleep with you.” I mean, we all have our own standards as to what The Talk needs to accomplish, right?
Another reason we want to know is that we’d like to know how to act. When we are out in public, can we put our hand on your thigh when we’re in a group of people? Can we hold your hand? Would that be too presumptuous? If we don’t know where we stand, we may feel like we need to hold back to the point where we might seem borderline cold, and make you wonder if we’re even that into you. The truth is, maybe we want to be, but we need some very minimal guarantees that our warm gestures aren’t going to be taken the wrong way or, worse, shunned.
We also want to know if we are sleeping with you, if we are the only one. Call it territorial, but some girls get a little testy when they roll over into a wet spot and you haven’t even done anything yet.
So, in many ways, it is more about self-preservation than it is about getting you to commit to something. But not in all ways. We also want to know what we can hold you accountable for. How can we expect to be treated? How can we expect you to act? Can we get slightly irked that the straddling girl and you spoke intimately and animatedly for 20 minutes, and you didn’t even introduce us? Are we allowed to tell you when our feelings are hurt, or are you going hide behind the “back off, crazy committing lady” look? If we find you in bed with someone else, are we allowed to be upset?
To us these don’t seem like unreasonable standards. On the other hand, we know that most of us, having spent the better part of our conscious time since the age of 5 talking about our feelings, have an advantage over you in being able to first, identify an emotion, and then articulate it. We also know that we have spent much of the time we have spent with you, and the majority of time spent away from you, trying to guess how it is you feel about us or the “situation.”
So, how can you avoid The Talk? Isn’t that the eternal question. Here are just a few strategies:
Since the motivation behind The Talk is to find out how you feel, the best way to avoid an all-out Talk is to pre-empt it by telling her how you feel. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just say, “I really like hanging out with you.” Or a casual, “You’re a pretty cool chick, you know that?” A casual, well-placed comment will do wonders for staving off The Talk.
Date girls with commitment issues that are equivalent to your own. Believe me, there are just as many single girls out there looking for something casual as there are boys. Unfortunately, her friends will be nattering in her ear about what’s going on, so eventually she will have to ask to assuage them, but if you can keep it light, do so.
Turn it around on her. If she asks you what’s going on, immediately turn the question back onto her. It’ll catch her off-guard. It is assumed that the person who has the balls to bring it up first gets to answer second, after carefully gauging the other’s reply, but where is this law written? If she brings it up first, you should assume that she already has an answer and she should have to go first, since she’s so eager to talk.
Let your actions speak for her. The longer you can make her feel secure, the longer you will fend off The Talk. Send her flowers, open doors for her. Do all the things guys know damn well girls want them to do, but they’re too lazy to do. If she feels appreciated, she won’t feel insecure. (Note: By showing you care, I don’t mean smother her. There is a fine line between showing you care and seeming slightly desperate. When you feel the talk coming on–and you should know by now that it’s in the air by either the fifth date or any moment after you have slept with her–then some flowers and calling when you say you will will do wonders.)
Or, if you feel like it is really casual, keep it casual. Don’t be all lovey dovey one minute and distant and flippant the next. Chances are that if she wants more and has any respect for herself, she’ll ditch you without even bothering to let you know. But if she’s desperate enough, you are probably just driving her into a mental dervish that is not going to be pretty when it hits you.
As a final desperate measure, and if you really don’t care if she sticks around or about her feelings, just refuse to have The Talk. She’ll get the point and you can start all over again, dashing the hopes of some other young hopeful looking to scoop you.