How Do I Ask The Dreaded "What Are We?" Question?

Navigating the windy path of love in the gray area.


Grandparents have a hard time understanding the concept of a relationship’s gray area. To them, you are either with someone or you are not. But if you aren’t receiving social security checks just yet, you understand very well that dating is just not that simple.

We’ve all heard the alleged problems with our generation: we have too many choices, too much porn, too much stimulation. Our focus is on building our careers rather than our future families, and we’re so engrossed in our screens and our selfies that having a relationship is unattainable. We’re forever doomed to a lifetime of a relationship in the grey area.

Yet, we have a hard time believing that we’re so cold. We know people our age in relationships. Real relationships! The kind where you do your whites together on laundry day, meet the fam, and plan the future. Having a significant other is not a myth, but the idea that you have to have the awk “relationship talk” to be a bf/gf might be.

That’s right. You heard us correctly. Asking the dreaded, “What are we?” question is not usually necessary. Relationships work best when you can live in the moment and let things unfold naturally, without pressure or an agenda. If it’s a good relationship, if you connect genuinely and appreciate each other mutually, then the "what are we" talk will just happen naturally. And pro tip: If it’s a good relationship you won’t feel that anxiety of not having officially labeled your person of interest just yet. When a guy or girl likes you and wants to be with you, he/she will (most of the time!) make sure you know it.

But what about the situation where you’ve been seeing someone for three or four months and you still don’t understand what your relationship is? Here’s our advice on navigating the windy path of love in the gray area:

1. Take a realistic look at the current situation

You need to know what your relationship is before figuring out what you want it to become. Only have the “what are we” talk if mutual actions and words have shown you and your lover are on the same page and you just want to solidify your understanding with a verbal agreement.

If you’re not already spending a great deal of time together, then most likely, there is no “we.” This translates to: If the only time you see him is for the occasional hookup, then it’s probably not a good idea to question what the relationship is. You should already know.

2. Trust your instincts

Most people tend to ask the big relationship question when they know deep down the relationship is more casual than serious. Trust what your spider senses are telling you. In most cases, you know the answer before you ask the question.

3. When you have the conversation is as important as why you’re having it

Once you meet someone you really like, your first instinct may be to lock them down right away, but this eagerness could actually have the reverse effect. If you ask too soon, you may drive the other person away. We cannot emphasize this enough: ***LET THE RELATIONSHIP DEVELOP NATURALLY*** If you feel that your relationship is mature but you still aren’t sure if you’re exclusive or not, then feel free to ask away.

4. Know what you want and ask for it

Oftentimes, the “what are we” talk comes from a discrepancy in the relationship, leading to one person wanting clarity. Be direct and simply say, “I’m having a really great time with you, and I’m interested in ….” Then, ask the other person if they feel the same way. Don’t leave any room for confusion. You’ve been confused long enough. 

5. No matter what, put yourself first

Make decisions that are good and right for you. Stay on track regardless of the other person’s answer. If a committed relationship is really what you’re looking for now, have the strength to walk away if your partner doesn't want the same. It will hurt but it will be a lot less painful than staying in a relationship that doesn’t fulfill your needs.