In almost every conversation I have with other SBFs about the men in their lives, there is one common thread: the talk. [Cue music: dun, Dun, DUN!] Oddly, we each seem to have some type of anxiety-inducing fear surrounding “the talk”. Often times, we are so afraid of “the talk” that the thought of it makes us revert to a passive, preteen version of ourselves that passes notes rather than engages in an adult dialogue.
For those who may not know what “the talk” is, it’s the conversation where two people (in this case, a man and a woman) explicitly state and work out the details of their relationship. In my experience, it most often begins with some version of the question, “What are we doing?” It involves a discussion about whether or not you’re exclusively dating someone and what you want or expect from each other.
What’s interesting about the women I talk to (including myself) is that we wait too late to have “the talk”. We only take the initiative to begin “the talk” after we’ve become too far invested in someone. By the time we’re sitting around with our girlfriends discussing whether or not we should have the talk, we’ve already been dating (or sometimes, doing) some man for so long that our emotions are completely tied up with him. We are so far into liking him that we can’t in good conscience date (or do) other people without feeling as if we are somehow stepping out on him (the non-boyfriend). In fact, by the time we pose the “What is this?” question, we already know the response we want is for him to say that we are in a monogamous relationship. And thus, it’s easy to see why “the talk” induces anxiety. The stakes are too high. Any conversation that has the potential to either end in bliss or heartbreak (because we’re so dramatic that we actually can’t see past these two extremes) is too risky. But what’s even riskier is never bridging the conversation and slipping emotionally deeper into something that can’t be easily reversed.
That said, it seems that it’s better to have “the talk” earlier on in a budding relationship. However, I should note that women just as hesitant to bridge “the talk” too early, usually for fear of scaring a man away. In attempts to protect a man’s ‘fight or flight’ reflexes, we sit back enjoying the ride…only the look up several months into an almost-relationship, emotionally-invested, and afraid to ask “the question” for fear that the response won’t be favorable.
Geez, my head hurts just thinking about it all. I do wonder, though, if most (not all) men who allow a relationship fester in neverneverland long enough that it needs some clarity aren’t truly ready to be in a relationship. I mean, honestly, should a woman have to be the one to begin that conversation? Shouldn’t a man be clear enough about his desire take a particular woman off the market that he steps up to the plate and exposes his feelings with the hope that she’ll reciprocate?