Sick of having to force him to have the where-is-this-relationship-going talk? We've figured out the reasons guys clam up and pinpointed strategies for getting him to bring up the subject. But beware: Having The Talk, no matter who initiates it, might either scare him off or cause him to give you an answer you don't want to hear ("I don't want a commitment, but I'd love to continue having sex with you. Okay?"). But come on. You don't want to spend the rest of your life pining for some guy who thinks you're great to share a burger and a bed with but little else, right? The risk is generally worth taking.
1) Take a vacation. Jetting off with nothing but a bikini and the promise of a postcard gives him a small taste of life minus you. Plus, the freedom to flirt when you're ostensibly single cuts both ways, and if he's into you, that'll stick in his craw. "When my girlfriend told me she was going on a cruise with three of her friends, I figured, cool - three weeks of bachelor days ahead," says Todd James* (names have been changed), a 29-year-old New York City public-relations executive. But then he saw how excited she was about the trip. "She kept talking about how they were going to get crazy - and two of her friends didn't have boyfriends. I doubted Amy was going to sit on the boat drinking pina coladas alone while they hit the town." Long story short: The night before she left, he initiated The Talk. "It was sort of a preemptive strike. I didn't want her to cheat on me," he said. "But it also made me think about losing her, and how I knew those three weeks would be pretty lonely. I did enough running around in college."
Risk factor: Medium to high. If he's a jerk, he may look at this as an opportunity for some bed-hopping, single-guy abandon. And hey, in that case maybe you'll figure out you're not even that into him anyway. He may find he likes it better when you're not around and move to make it a permanent condition. If that happens, he's not worth the price of your return ticket. Besides, if you haven't had The Talk, no one's stopping you from staying on an extra week and having that little vacation fling with a lusty young cabana boy. If that's what you want, go for it. Plus, find out how the five words that will get him to tell the truth.
2) Act as if you've already had The Talk. In other words, take liberties. Adopt the role of the one and only girlfriend, fiancee, or whatever relationship status you aspire to. With our notorious lack of short-term memory, your guy may assume you two have already had The Talk, but he may not remember exactly when. So, pick up groceries for him; ask him to do the same. Call him at work and say, "Sorry to bother you, but on the way home, could you buy some cream cheese, light bulbs, and some of those panty liners with wings?" You accomplish two things swiftly: Even if you live in two separate apartments, you've established that there is a "home" to go to (if he doesn't balk at your plea, consider that acceptance), and you've gotten him to share the shopping. Not too shabby.
Risk factor: High. If you're lucky, he might settle into his new cozy life without even noticing it. Or he might feel things are going too fast and say to you, "Jeez, I feel whipped," which is at least the start of something resembling The Talk, right? You can take it from there.
3) Go out with your pal "Rocco." Men have a problem with so-called guy friends, men with whom women claim to have platonic relationships. In fact, I use the term so-called because guys don't believe there is such a thing as a guy friend, especially when it comes to a girlfriend they care about. That's because they know how they themselves think. They know straight men pony up to women to get laid, not to talk about feelings. Trust me, if your guy isn't a complete idiot, he will definitely feel threatened by your buddy Rocco. Immediately, Rocco will be the most interesting individual on the planet. Your man will want to know why he's hanging around you. He'll want to know why you're hanging around him. He'll get jealous - we're all good at that - and soon, he'll demand to meet him. All the while, you should act surprised by your guy's uncharacteristically possessive behavior and, if you like, even a little indignant. Just steer clear of these taboo topics. But if he feels threatened by another bear in his lair, then he's already aware he has a lot to lose. You're halfway there, and this little trick might get him to defend his turf.
Risk factor: High if Rocco doesn't exist. Wouldn't it be humiliating if your man decided to confront your imaginary friend? And if he does exist and your guy doesn't care, well, you've got to move on to a better strategy. Like, say, dumping him and dating Rocco.
4) Make a major independent financial decision. Talk about buying a car, a plot of land, a house, or maybe a Cessna. The reason: You're making him aware that you don't need him to move your life forward. And if he asks you why you didn't consult him first about the decision, jokingly say, "It's not like we're married!" He'll have to respond with a request for clarification of exactly what he is to you, if he's going to have any say in your financial matters. That sounds like the start of The Talk. If you don't have a bundle of green, just fake it. That's what glossy brochures for fancy summer homes and luxury automobiles are for. Simply leave them out on the coffee table (strewn over the remote) to let him know you're making big decisions he isn't privy to. Cool.
Risk factor: Low. The brochures won't scare him off, they will only make him feel a little left out. That's good.
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