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That Awkward Moment: what to say (or not) if your relationship hits one

It’s when you want to know where it’s going but don’t want to sound desperate or pushy –  relationship expert Dr Lori Boul has advice for getting through That Awkward Moment in a relationship

So, you have been seeing your partner for a while now and things are going well but you want to know if you are going to have a future together.  Here’s how.

Spot the signs

There are lots of signs that your partner is serious about you.  For example, does he/she:

  • Holds your hand in public (this is a declaration to the world that you are together)
  • Introduces you to family and friends (and when you meet them they already know about you)
  • Refers to you as his girlfriend/boyfriend, partner, the lady/man in his/her life
  • Spends Saturday nights with you (and not just come over late and leave early)
  • Gives you all his contacts (home, work, mobile phones and email) and answers the phone when you ring
  • Phones you more than texts – and has real conversations
  • Talks about future plans that include you
  • Will soothe your fevered brow when you are ill (even when you are throwing up in a bucket)

Unfortunately, we are not always good at reading signs so it is much safer to actually hear the words.  But how and when do you ask these awkward questions without sounding desperate or pushy?

There’s no right time, only the time that’s right for you

There is no definitive answer on the when; it can take weeks, months or even years.  My father asked my mother to marry him six weeks after they meet and were married four months later.  On the other hand I know a couple that have been together for 10 years and have still not made a commitment to anything other than dating.  So, the time is when you need to know.  If you feel ready to make a commitment then it is time for you to find out if you partner feels the same.  There’s no point in investing time and energy in a relationship that isn’t going to be the relationship you want.

Gratuitous gorgeous man pic 101. Well he IS in the film
Gratuitous gorgeous man pic 101. Well he IS in the film

Tell them how you feel but don’t say ‘Where is this going?’

But, if you have decided the time is right then what about the how? The most important starting point is to tell them how you feel.  This doesn’t mean declaring your undying love, even if you feel it.  They could have a panic attack if they haven’t got to the same place as you (yet) and some people are simply more restrained than others when it comes to the ‘L’ word.  Don’t start with something like, ‘where do you think our relationship is going?’ – since your partner might not know how you feel this puts them on the spot.

Wait for their reaction

You could always tell them how you feel and wait to see what their reaction is but as I said earlier we are not always good at reading the ‘signs’.  Also, telling someone how you feel without asking a question could get you no response at all, so you will be no wiser on where your relationship might go.  First decide on what it is you want to know and be specific with what you ask.

awkward bed

5 Awkward Moments and how to deal with them

1. Friends to dating

Moving from friends to dating can be difficult, while friendship is based on affection, and is the cornerstone of a good relationship, dating usually starts with attraction.  Therefore, while you might be attracted to your friend the feeling might not be reciprocated, if this is the case you could lose a good friend.  If you want to move from friends to dating you could try something like, “You are a great friend but I have realized that my feelings for you have been getting deeper and I am really attracted to you.  So, I have been wondering how you feel about being more than friends, maybe start with a date and see where it goes?”

2. Friends with Benefits

If you want to be ‘friends with benefits’ be very careful.  You could lose a good friend but even worse your friend might think that by having sex with you they can persuade you to become a permanent fixture.  However, if you want to try this route you should be very clear, you might say something like: “You are a great friend and, although I am not ready for an exclusive (committed) relationship, I really fancy you. Any chance you are interested in a casual sexual relationship with me?”

3. Dating to Sex

Most people don’t have a problem with moving from a dating relationship to a sexual one since the passion of attraction usually takes over.  However, if you need to ask but are not ready to use ‘L’ word you might try, ‘You are very attractive (beautiful) and I really like you.  I would like to make love (have sex) with you, how would you feel about that?’  If you have already declared your love for each other then obviously telling them how much you love them is important.

4. Serious Commitment

There are a number of different types of committed relationships, including marriage, live in partnership, exclusive dating-relationship and more, so you need to be clear on this one.  Again start with telling your partner how you feel.  For example, ‘You know how much I like (love) you and I am happy with what we have but I have been thinking about where our relationship is going.  What I would like for my future is (to get married, live together etc.) and I was wondering if this is what you want’.

5. Rejection

Finally, don’t ask questions if you’re not prepared for the answer.  While you might not receive an outright rejection your partner might not be in the same place as you.  Relationships are about negotiation and in a loving relationship the negotiation should be mutually beneficial.  So, never sacrifice your values and principles because you think you can change your partner to your way of thinking, it won’t work and will bring you both nothing but misery.

Lori BoulDr. Lori Boul is a psychologist and psychotherapist, sexologist and business mentor and the author of DIY Sex and Relationship Therapy (£9.09 Amazon). Visit her website for more


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