Move from Casual to Committed by Saying This to Him

Dear Jonathon,

I’m afraid it’s happening again. I’m kinda-sorta in a relationship with a guy and doing everything I can for him—I really take care of him. We’ve been together for about six months (just dating), and I want more. I want to be his girlfriend.

We do everything a boyfriend and girlfriend do—have sex, spend a lot of time together, and we even have keys to each other’s houses. Yet he’s never made anything official, so I know he’s not my boyfriend. But I don’t want to be doing the casual dating thing six months from now—I want a committed relationship with him. How do I do that?

My mom says don’t bring it up and just let him take things at his own pace. My girlfriends say I need to tell him right now that I want the title, or I’m leaving. (They’re all single or divorced, so I don’t know if their advice is any good.) There has to be a better way than either of those, and I’ve already tried telling a previous guy I dated what I wanted, and he walked away. Help!


Dear Stacie,

Right now, you’re in a pretend relationship… you pretend he’s your boyfriend. But as you correctly said, he hasn’t made anything official, so you know you’re not his girlfriend. That’s smart.

First, I want to congratulate you on your patience and easygoing way. Most women would’ve been climbing the walls after a month or two. You were right to hold off having “the talk.” Far too often, women jump the gun and scare men away. But you’ve been acting like a girlfriend for six months, so I can understand you want to know if this is going anywhere.

Second, good for you not taking the advice you’ve already received. I mean nothing against your mother or your girlfriends, but their recommendations aren’t the same as I would make. I tell women not to take advice from anyone who’s not already in a good relationship.

What do you do now?

First, realize that he may assume you’re his girlfriend now. Or he might not realize that’s what you want. Some men can be pretty obtuse about that stuff.

Second, know that you are taking a risk by initiating “the talk.” A man who is relationship ready will have no problems talking about it, but a boy will run. Be prepared for that to happen. You’ll want to be passionately detached here—say what you need to say, and then detach from any particular outcome.

Third, make sure he knows there is a win in this for him. You win by getting a committed relationship, but what does he get? Will it be more time with you, more sex, a happier you? Moving from casual to committed should be a win-win for both of you, and when you talk to him, you’ll want to make his win clear to him.

With that out of the way, here’s what you do:

You let him know what you’re looking for without making him wrong for not giving you the title. Find him when he’s in a good mood and seems open to talking. DON’T say anything that resembles “We need to talk.” That puts men on the defensive right away. Just bring it up casually when you know he’s listening and receptive. Say this, and then stop. Don’t go any farther.

“You know, I’ve had a great time getting to know you over the last six months, and I really enjoy being with you. I’m looking for a committed relationship and I just want to know where you’re at. I get the sense that may not be what you’re looking for right now, even though you’d (talk about his win here, briefly!).”

Be quiet, give it two seconds to see if he says anything right away, and then move on to do something else. Don’t stand there or stare him down. Just toss it off very casually and move on with your life. His reaction will tell you all you need to know. It may shock him for a moment, so don’t worry too much if he doesn’t come after you immediately.

However, after he’s had a little while to process what’s going on, his reaction will speak volumes about his character. Does he give you a reply or does he ignore what you said, as if he wishes it never happened? Does he tell you that he’s not sure what he wants, or does he tell you he’s ready to take things to the next level?

Again, be prepared for whatever might happen. He may be all in, which is great, or he may not be ready yet. That’s when you’ll need to decide whether you wish to continue seeing him and giving him a little more time. Weigh your options if you feel he’s not there yet, but please don’t let his reaction deter you from seeking the love you deserve.

If he’s not the one, someone else is.

Good luck!