will you be my girlfriend? [ ] yes [ ] no [ ] maybe
December 7, 2005 3:44 PM   Subscribe

How did you make the transition from "just dating" to boyfriend/girlfriend?

In past or current relationships, after you started dating, when and how did you decide to become an official couple?

Was there a conversation or perhaps a token given? Or did you just kind of "know" after being together for awhile?
posted by skjønn to Human Relations (33 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: For me it was just knowing that I didn't want to spend romantic time with any other girl- she was the one and only for me.

A conversation about that would be the best way to start it- both members of the relationship can treat it the same way and be on the same page.

In a previous relationship, I made the mistake of not having that conversation. She was going nuts not knowing if we were exclusive, until one day she overheard me talking to a friend and I refered to her as my girlfriend. She said that was the most relieving thing she heard.

I would recommend not putting your SO through that.
posted by id at 3:48 PM on December 7, 2005 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When we had an explicit discussion about it...my girlfriend (of nearly 4 years now) and I were good friends for about 6 months and we had known each other for about a year and a half before we decided to make the transition to boyfriend/girlfriend. You could say we "knew" that it would be a good idea before we talked about it, but I think that the conversation regarding that topic made it a lot easier. It definitely made it less awkward, in any event.
posted by johnsmith415 at 3:50 PM on December 7, 2005

My last girlfriend and I saw each other non-exclusively for three months. All it took was one conversation one night to make us both realize that should change. I gave her a necklace that I've been wearing the past three years to seal the deal. When we broke up in September, she put the necklace away for safekeeping. She's coming this Christmas to see me, and I suspect whether she wears the necklace will have a lot to do on whether we get back together or not. (Not causal but it's fun to think of it that way.)
posted by Happydaz at 3:50 PM on December 7, 2005

Even if you're SURE she feels the same way, it's always nice to have some clarity...because you never know, right?
posted by johnsmith415 at 3:51 PM on December 7, 2005

After having been friends for months, my now-ex-girlfriend and I were on the couch talking one afternoon. Day turned to night, we were sitting in the dark, and it just kind of came out: "I'd really like to kiss you now." I'd felt the same way for a while and things grew from there. It didn't last, unfortunately, which in the end killed the friendship as well. I'll always regret that it ended, but the time we were officially dating was the happiest I'd been in a long time.
posted by Servo5678 at 3:53 PM on December 7, 2005

How do you know? yeah, it tend to be ambiguous. I'd like to think that if you're trying really hard to spend every waking moment together and really don't plan to be with someone else, they you're bf/gf status.

My indicator is to hold hands in public. I mean, it's one thing what you do in the privacy of your own home, but when you're broadcasting your status on the street with PDA, then yeah, you're together.
posted by Sallysings at 3:56 PM on December 7, 2005

In a previous relationship, I made the mistake of not having that conversation. She was going nuts not knowing if we were exclusive, until one day she overheard me talking to a friend and I refered to her as my girlfriend. She said that was the most relieving thing she heard

I would recommend not putting your SO through that.

Yeah, it's tragic that she was biologically unable to bring the matter up on her own. Then again, you do say PRIOR relationship so maybe communication skills were part of that demise, hmmm?

I've had relationships where it was clear from the get-go we weren't dating others, where the subject just came up one day in conversation and where one of us broached the topic explicitly. If you're uncomfortable with the subject you can start off by making it about yourself and your actions rather than about what you want her to do. "I'm not going out with anyone other than you and I don't have any urge to."

If you're afraid to discuss this at all I suggest that you contemplate why. If you feel that way and she doesn't it's an important issue to explore. It might be unpleasant to hear it stated out loud if she's still interested in seeing other people but is that really worse than having it happen and not knowing that's how she feels?
posted by phearlez at 3:57 PM on December 7, 2005

I've never had to wonder or even have a conversation about it. It's always been perfectly clear.
posted by footnote at 4:01 PM on December 7, 2005

I don't know if this is a cultural difference or what (I'm British) but I don't think I or anyone I know have ever "dated" anyone. I'm not sure I'd know where to start. Things seem to go more the way of two people like each other, they kiss or whatever, and then they're "going out", girlfriend and boyfriend etc. I really think the dating thing must be an American originated thing, I don't think I've ever heard anyone here say that they were dating anyone.
posted by Lotto at 4:04 PM on December 7, 2005

Hey skjønn, is this the guy from your apartment building you took to Harry Potter?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:14 PM on December 7, 2005 [1 favorite]

My boyfriend brought it up very early after we started dating -- like within a week or two. We were driving to see a movie (the new Batman, to be ridiculously precise) and he just turned to me at one point and said "I don't want to date anyone else but you. How do you feel about it?" And I said, "I don't want to date anyone else either. So that's cool." The first actual use of the word girlfriend followed about 20 minutes later. So it was all refreshingly clear and unambiguous.
posted by scody at 4:19 PM on December 7, 2005

I don't know if this is a cultural difference or what...

It totally is -- I've had this talk with dozen of Londoners and they all think we're crazy about this "dating" vs. boyfriend/girlfriend thing. None of this may make much sense to non-North Americans.

In answer to your question: yes, you do "just know" but it's important to cement that with a conversation because, well, it's so lovely to know that the other person "just knows" too.

God, I hope it's the guy from the Harry Potter thing!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 4:39 PM on December 7, 2005

I used to wait until it felt stupid introducing her as anything but my girlfriend. If the lady in question didn't object, that was that.
posted by oddman at 4:45 PM on December 7, 2005

Response by poster: PinkSuperhero and RJ Reynolds-

Yes and no. I'm dating three guys right now (Harry Potter guy is one of them). But it's starting to get to the point where if I saw one of them while I was with another it would be weird, even though there have been no talks or anything like that yet.

Harry Potter guy turned out to be really nice and I like him a lot. However, there's this other girl in my complex who seems to be chasing him as well. :-(
posted by skjønn at 4:46 PM on December 7, 2005

In a further attempt at derailment:

So, if you're dating more than one guy (say, three), you're going for dinner, to cinema etc with them, right? But what else? Do you kiss them, and therefore be in a position of kissing more than one guy at once? (not simultaneously) If yes, do you do more than kiss them? I'm not asking individuals, I just can't get my head round this whole thing generally!
posted by Lotto at 4:51 PM on December 7, 2005

Response by poster: In the culture I'm part of, premarital sex is out of the question, so no, nothing besides kissing/making out.
posted by skjønn at 4:55 PM on December 7, 2005

Lotto: It seems to me that questions about the phenomenon of American Dating would make a fine AskMe question of its own. I mean, I grew up in the US but can also say that I'm mystified...

(apologies for the minor derail)
posted by vacapinta at 5:06 PM on December 7, 2005

I asked her when she was drunk, and she said yes. She hasn't changed her mind yet...
posted by jewzilla at 5:10 PM on December 7, 2005

As RJ Reynolds said, I have never (as a European) understood the American "dating concept". My cup filled over last summer when at the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla an American journalist commented that they had been "dating" for so and so many years. Sweet Jesus.

If you talk about conventional heterosexual relationships in Western communities, you somehow meet, then spend some time together which might or might not be in the form of a "formal date" and then just stay on doing whatever you want and then maybe at some point get engaged or married or break up. The semantics of "dating" for one thing is just wrong on so many levels. I just don't get it no matter how much time I spend in the U.S.

But maybe that's why I never get a date. *sigh*
posted by keijo at 5:11 PM on December 7, 2005

Oh, and as vacapinta said, fine AskMefi/Metachat topic on it's own.
posted by keijo at 5:13 PM on December 7, 2005

But I'm glad that somebody else is baffled. *stops flooding AskMefi now, I've just recently been wondering about this very topic.
posted by keijo at 5:14 PM on December 7, 2005

Best answer: Ah, in response to your follow-up, someone said this to me the other day: If you'd feel bad telling one of your dates that you're sleeping with someone else, that's fine, as you shouldn't be sharing that with them anyway. But if you feel bad while you're sleeping with that someone else, then it's not fine and you're supposed to now have a conversation on the topic of exclusivity.

Feel free to replace "sleeping with" with any age- or lifestyle- or circumstance-appropriate primary romantic activity, like making out or holding hands or killing goats.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:19 PM on December 7, 2005 [2 favorites]

I had a whole derail here - on preview - I'll put it in the other question. As to the matter at hand...

As a single person I always found having sex to be the point at which you at least had to ask about whether or not you were exclusive - if for no other reason than one of public health. If you're both out sleeping with different people (I can't believe this never happens outside of the US) then you know to protect yourself both physically and emotionally.

Since sex isn't an issue for the poster- I think if you've been making out with someone consistently for more than a few weeks and you want to see them exclusively - you just have to tell them that. I think every relationship I've been in has "started" with the "I don't want to see anyone but you" conversation initiated by one person or the other.
posted by Wolfie at 5:28 PM on December 7, 2005

Hrm, I dunno. I think we realized that were were "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" when she started staying at my place more than 50% of the time.

Basically, she just kind of came over and never left. ;)

(Just kidding. We actually had "the conversation" - and I realized that there's nobody else on the planet that I'd rather be with! :-D
posted by drstein at 6:03 PM on December 7, 2005

Should your relationship blossom, your title for this question (will you be my girlfriend? [] yes [] no [] maybe) is an effective way to propose.
posted by schustafa at 6:58 PM on December 7, 2005

I agree that it's necessary to have the "talk."

There's nothing worse than spending time/dating/hanging out/[insert your preferred euphemism here] with someone, thinking that perhaps it's leading to something and then feeling like a fool because they didn't feel the same way that you did.

I was in a "relationship" with a guy once upon a time. We'd spend lots of time together doing coupley things and then he moved 5 hours away. I figured that would be that. But he continued to keep in touch--he'd call 3-4 times a week and we'd have great conversations that lasted long into the night, and whenever he came back into town (which was quite often because his company's HO was here) we'd get together. To confuse matters even further, he asked me to marry him (more than once, the first time on our first date, or whatever you want to call it, in a jokey way, of course), and we even talked about kids names--trite, I know. Long story short, when I finally asked him what the heck was going on, he told me he just wanted to "hang out," that as soon as you add the labels "bf/gf" expectations get in the way and screw things up. (Even as I write this I still don't get what happened and chalk it up to him being a commitment-phobe because if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...)

The moral of the story is to not take anything for granted. Ask for clarity about exclusivity sooner rather than later and save yourself from all the analytical second-guessing borne of the insecurity about your status as a (non-)couple.
posted by phoenixc at 7:34 PM on December 7, 2005 [1 favorite]

I have never (as a European) understood the American "dating concept".

Hey, I am an American and have never understood the American "dating concept." I don't think I've ever been "asked on a date," and I've certainly never had the "exculsivity talk," and yet I've made it through 8 years of more-than-friend relationships. This doesn't even seem to be an international cultural difference, it's part of the smaller culture/society you are part of day to day.
posted by whatzit at 7:47 PM on December 7, 2005

I agree with whatzit. This discussion has come up with my friends and I several times; most of us don't see a different between dating and boyfriend/girlfriend, with many even referring to the latter as "going out."

Using that terminology, my girlfriend and I had been going out for a month or two before we went on a date.
posted by danb at 7:54 PM on December 7, 2005

Eh. My girlfriend said that if I wanted to sleep with her, I couldn't sleep with anyone else. I wanted to sleep with her, so I broke it off with the other girl that I was seeing. (With the other girl it was a bit weird since we were just kinda going into the dating period after the hanging out/classmates period, but I was still in a study group with her, so I didn't really wanna be all like "It's not gonna happen..." Things were just vague until my girlfriend and I ended up sitting behind her at a movie).
posted by klangklangston at 9:08 PM on December 7, 2005

Definitely have the talk, and be explicit about what you're committing to. In my current relationship, we had an ambiguous talk, and much heartache later had to straighten it out officially & clearly. At that point we agreed that we would be exclusive or nothing at all.

The relationship before something prompted it - we were going to spend a summer apart, and I said we wouldn't be together at the end of the summer if he had slept with anyone else in the meantime. That was explicit enough.
posted by Amizu at 5:30 AM on December 8, 2005

My friends and I always called it the DTR or Define The Relationship talk. In my experience, it usually comes about when one of the partners asks or wonders, "What is going on here?" or "Where is this relationship headed?" I agree w/ what others have said. Make it explicit. Don't assume anything. Also, ask him/her and listen carefully.
posted by apark at 1:22 PM on December 8, 2005

I am American and I don't like/get the whole "dating" concept either. I just "broke up" with a guy who it turns out I was never "with" because he's been seeing someone else all along. After making this admission, he the claimed to be confused and upset about having to pick between the two of us. After a bit of time claiming he hasn't called, so I guess he picked the other girl :(

The whole thing was quite hurtful to me. If I like someone, I want to see where it will go with THEM. How can you really get to know someone if you're focussing on keeping all of your options open? I find dating thing distasteful...you hang out with/make out with different people with no commitment, invariably comparing them to each other until one comes out the winner after passing all sorts of tests? It seems to be a system where men get exactly what they want, which is physical affection (and often more) with no commitment.

I also think that some men will intentionally lead women into thinking that a relationship could go somewhere when actually they know that there's no relationship future. By keeping the status of the relationship open or vague they get to keep their options open. (Maybe women do this too? I know I don't.)

I just don't think any of this sounds or feels very nice. But then again, I'm pretty sensitive.
posted by mintchip at 8:12 PM on January 3, 2006

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