When And How To Have The "What Are We?" Talk With Your Potential Boyfriend

One of the most nerve-wracking conversations we’ll have is the “What are we?” talk with a potential boyfriend – but it’s also necessary.

By Keelia Clarkson3 min read
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So you’ve been dating a guy for a while now – maybe a couple of weeks, or maybe a couple of months – and things are going pretty well. You’re hanging out all the time, having fun back-and-forth text conversations, you really like him, and could definitely see a future with him. 

The only problem? You’re not sure where he sees things going. You’re not really sure what to even call the relationship – he acts like your boyfriend, but you haven’t talked about how to label things yet. You’re dying to initiate the “What are we?” conversation, but just don’t know how to broach the subject. Is it the right time? How do you even bring it up? Or, should you wait until he brings it up?

Here’s when and how to bring up that question.

You Know What You Want

Before you ask him the big question, you have to know what your own answer would be. Do you want him to be your boyfriend? Are you in a good place to begin a long-term, committed relationship? Is he the right guy?

The “What are we?” talk is really only necessary once you’re sure that you want to pursue a relationship with him, and would be looking for a particular answer from him. If you’re not totally sure what you want yet, wait it out a little bit longer. 

I know what I want

You’ve Been Out More Than Five Times

So you’ve just had the best first date of your life – you felt all the sparks, and he already asked you out again for next weekend. It’s understandable to want to know what he’s thinking right away, but if you’ve been out fewer than five times, it may be best to wait just a little longer to ask him where things are headed. (However, every relationship is different, and you might find that it comes up naturally before five dates.)

On the other hand, if you’ve been out a few times and are still wondering where the relationship is going, it’s perfectly normal to bring the conversation up around the fifth or sixth date mark.

Have the Conversation Face-To-Face

We’ve all received a text that we completely misunderstood the intention behind. And while it’s tempting to hide behind your phone, for a conversation this important and potentially sensitive, it’s best to talk things out face-to-face.


Let him know beforehand that there’s something you’d like to discuss, just so he can be prepared to sit down and talk rather than feel ambushed. You can bring up the conversation by saying something along the lines of, “I really like you, and I wanted to know if you’d thought about where things might be going for us.”

While you might wish he’d bring it up so you wouldn’t have to, or pick up on hints, it’s best to be direct and clear with what you’re trying to talk about. This will help him feel like he’s able to move the conversation forward, rather than having to decode what you’re trying to get at.

Be Prepared for an Answer You Don’t Like

Obviously, if you’re initiating this conversation instead of breaking things off with him, you’re hoping for a very particular answer, something along the lines of, “I’m so glad you brought this up. I really like you too. Will you be my girlfriend?” 

This is the ideal response, but it’s not necessarily one that should be expected. It’s important to be emotionally prepared for a myriad of less enthusiastic answers, from “I like you, too… but I’m not ready for commitment right now,” to “We’ve got a good thing going here, but let’s take things slow,” to “I’m sorry, I thought this was a casual thing.”

But Don’t Compromise Your Desires

If it turns out that he doesn’t want a relationship, you can’t control his response, convince him to be your boyfriend anyway, or make him change his desires. You do, however, have agency over what you do.

If you like him enough, you may believe that sticking around will change his mind, or you might even convince yourself that you’re okay with keeping things unlabeled, just to keep him around. But ultimately, this isn’t going to work.

While he’s allowed to not want a relationship, you’re allowed to want one – hold fast to this desire, not compromising on what you really want in order to fit into some guy’s life. If you’re not in agreement on something as fundamental to a healthy relationship as commitment, then he’s not the right guy for you. 

I choose me

Closing Thoughts

It’s not always fun to be the initiator of the “What are we?” talk, but, at a certain point, it’s necessary. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a loving, lifelong relationship, but if it’s not, remember not to compromise your ideals and desires in order to please someone else.

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