What is “official”, exactly?

I’m hooking up with this guy but I don’t know if he is being sincere. You’ll have to have an honest conversation and ask him, says our elder. Don’t sell yourself short.

Dear EWC

So I started hanging out with this guy — he’s 20 and I just turned 21, and he got out of a long relationship with his high school sweetheart. Now we are hooking up. Just the other night he asked if I wanted to make it “official” and I said yes. However, I am not sure if this is just to make me feel good/flatter me or if he actually wants a relationship now. He has shown signs that he still hangs out with other girls and is playfully flirty with my sister when he comes over. I am not sure if I am rambling or if you catch my drift, but how do I know when someone is being sincere and actually wants to be with me or just wants steady hookups while he is friends with other people?

Purple-Finch replies

Hi, and thanks for your letter. Let’s see if I can say something helpful.

I think I have to question the communications between you two. Or maybe just the communication in your letter. Here is what I think is an essential question: Exactly what is he (or you, plural) making “official”? Does that mean that you are officially hooking up? Are you friends with benefits? Or are you having a relationship? If you don’t know the answer to that question, then you need to ask him. Ask him plainly and frankly. Because if he is looking for “friends with benefits” and you are looking for a relationship, then this will not work at all. You will be terribly hurt, and I’d like to see you prevent that.

In my opinion and experience, “friends with benefits” is just a load of —-. The man generally thinks of you as his “back-up” while he is still out searching for Miss Perfect. If that sounds like you are being used, that is exactly right. For some reason (and I cannot explain it, but possibly it has to do with biology) most men are ready for sex at the drop of a hat. Most women, on the other hand, want to be talked into it. If you made me guess, I would tell you that women need convincing because they are the ones who end up with the children. And that means they need to be able to rely on someone to provide a home because children require a lot of work and attention.

Now perhaps I am flying off the handle. Perhaps what you are making official is “a relationship”. I hope it is, but if you are not sure, once again — you must ask him. Most people (again, in my experience) think of a relationship as exclusive sexual activity and most emotional support from a single individual. And so in a relationship, most of the free time people have is spent with the beloved. Does that mean they do not have friends of the opposite gender? No. Does that mean they do not have “close friends”? No.
If you ask me what is the surest sign of a healthy relationship, it is open and honest communication. So if you feel you cannot ask him what he means when he says X or when he says Y, then you have an unhealthy situation. You need to find out what he means, and you need to be able to express clearly what you mean. And then you need to decide if your needs and his are a decent match.

Please do not sell yourself short. Do not enter into an exchange of sexual favors with the idea that he “will learn to love me.” If you two are simply exchanging sexual favors, he will know that he is using you. And that will cheapen you in his eyes. He will not want you for a serious relationship. And you should not want him for a serious relationship if all he is doing is using you. You are better than that. I apologize if I sound like I am scolding you. I am not. I certainly am urging you to think of yourself as more valuable and worthy of the respect of anyone who spends time with you.

I hope my words help you clarify what you want from this situation. What you want is important — just as important as what he wants. You take care now.

Letter #: 455831
Category: Dating/Relationship

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