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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » New relationships - do they "just happen" or are you planning them?

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Author Topic: New relationships - do they "just happen" or are you planning them?
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Since Heather posted this article about sex "just happening" I've returned to it a few times, and I think it's a great read: When Sex "Just Happened" (And How to Make It Happen Instead)

But when I think about it, I realize that I think this idea can be applied to relationships as well, not just to sex.

I've had relationships that started when mutual attraction between myself and someone else built up enough that we kissed at the end of a party, or started hanging out more and eventually one of us asked the other on a "date," but in those situations I never talked to the other person about exactly what it meant to them that we were dating. And because being in a relationship means very different things depending on who you ask, that wasn't really the best way to start things out.

In fact, in one of those cases it turned out that I thought I was dating someone for a week or two before he thought we were in a relationship. It turned out all right in that regard, because he was interested in me too, but I had jumped the gun a little and interpreted his friendliness at a party as him expressing interest in dating me. He hadn't quite meant it then, but we sorted that out pretty quickly. =)

When I started dating my partner, I wanted to make sure we started out in a good place - we'd very briefly dated about two years prior (in the sort of unplanned, "oops, I guess we're dating now??" situation I mention above) and it was really important to both of us that we talk about what went wrong at that point and what we wanted our relationship to look like. I kind of joke about it now as our "pre-relationship negotiation" but to be honest, I think that discussion was a big part of why our relationship has worked. We set the foundation for talking about the relationship and what we wanted out of it before it officially started.

I've had good luck with this in another relationship I had recently; although I'm no longer in it I did talk to the other person for a while before we started things and that worked out much better than it would have to just fall into something without a sense of intent behind our actions. It helped me be a lot more comfortable starting a long-distance relationship, knowing that our expectations were set out in the beginning.

Have any of y'all had luck with one way of starting a relationship versus another? Do you tend to just find yourself in relationships? Do you talk about them first?

Posts: 1352 | From: San Francisco | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Excellent post, Mo! Love it.

I've had the same experience as you -- relationships that just "happened" where we were hanging out more and more and kissed and then were eventually like "so, I guess we're like, officially in a relationship...?" but not actually negotiated what that meant. We were on the same page about a lot of things, but not about others, and having that pre-relationship negotiation would have helped.

And as you said, talking really straight-forwardly about what you want a relationship to look like is also an AWESOME way to start communication in a relationship! Right off the bat!

My current relationship, I did what you did -- had a pre-relationship negotiation [Smile] I even printed off a few scarleteen articles to read over and gave copies to him to read over as well, haha! It was very serious business [Razz]

We then chatted about what was covered in the articles and went from there, talking about what we were looking for in various regards to a relationship, dealbreakers and boundaries, etc. It was awesome. And I definitely think our relationship is better for it! We knew exactly (well, as exactly as you can know) what we were getting into right from the beginning.

[ 05-07-2013, 08:45 PM: Message edited by: Onionpie ]

Posts: 1311 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I've had mixed experiences with this - in my first relationship, he assumed he were dating from the first time we went to a movie together, and while I wanted to be dating him too we never actually referred to it as a date, so I think it was over a month, maybe even two, before we officially confirmed in conversation that we were dating... We were both 14 though, and neither of us had dated before, so it was nerve-wracking to even ask questions like that.

It wasn't until my first relationship ended that I realized how misleading and unproductive making assumptions could be in a romantic context, so in my second relationship (currently ongoing), I was really really clear that I was not comfortable dating anyone right off the bat when we met and that we could be buddies who made out with each other for a month or so and then reevaluate what we felt like doing. We then decided to start actually dating. It felt really good to be so clear about what we wanted and didn't want from the start.

My third relationship started with some flirting and cuddling followed by a very official date (dinner then dancing) with a less standard ending to the night (threesome). We didn't really call it dating for a little while but then a guy friend expressed interest in her and I told him he probably shouldn't bother because she was already involved with me and someone else, and when I told her I'd told him that it precipitated a discussion about what exactly our relationship was and what boundaries it had. We then dated as a triad for six months, and are now friends who cuddle sometimes.

I try to be careful and conscious about defining relationships nowadays because I run a lot of relatively non-standard ones and if I don't stay clear about what I want and express that, things could potentially get really messy and confusing. It can be hard to start those conversations, though - it's not a relationship behavior that's generally encouraged. Happily, Scarleteen has great articles about it, so yay! This website has definitely been a factor in some really useful conversations I've had.

Posts: 62 | From: California | Registered: Jun 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Jacob at Scarleteen
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I think it varies depending on who I might be seeing or wanting to start a relationship with.

With my current relationship we actually avoided describing it as a whole for quite a long time. I was more interested in what we wanted to do together rather than what we wanted to be.

When one friend asked if my now partner was my girlfriend I said that we were really enjoying doing stuff together and I really liked her but we weren't really so interested in what to call it or how to define it, they got really angry at me and told me off for being arrogant and pretentious for pretending there was something unique or special about my relationship and that I should say "She's my girlfriend" and get over it.

It was really unexpected, plus upsetting and I still don't really get why someone would get so angry about what was essentially laziness with regards to naming our relationship type. So long as we were both happy communicating what we wanted spend time doing with eachother I felt really happy, and happy enjoying the deep connection we seem to have with eachother...

I also got that she would be upset if I were to see other people too and so I decided I didn't want to do that... Later on we did clarify that we were monogamous and then I began readily say "My girlfriend" or whatever, and it's mostly for ease of communication.

I don't know if it's because of past experience but I'm really interested in maintaining the habit of treating our relationship as caring and at the same time not radically different from what I would like from casual sex, i.e. consent, caring and creating pleasure and happiness for each-other.

We've been 'together' (counting from first sex) for about 2 and half years... there wasn't a clear moment where our relationship went from 'casual to serious'... if anything it becomes more relaxed and 'casual' with time and at the same time deeper.

However I think a lot of this is really particular to this relationship... I don't think it would work like this with a different matching of people.

I don't think it "just happened" as with relationships where I have communicated poorly and assumed things of the relationship which weren't true, or assumed an importance which the other person didn't hold. It has been very concious and clearly communicated what we have wanted and what we wanted to do, but it's the accumulation of these things that have shaped my idea of the relationship and it is very accurate. If anything it has pushed us to communicate more and understand where we're at better.

PS this is a great topic, it's really making me think.

[ 05-12-2013, 09:35 AM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

Posts: 694 | From: Leeds UK | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Jacob, I think that's a good point that there's a difference between talking with a partner about what works and doesn't work with them vs. defining something as An Official Relationship. =)
Posts: 1352 | From: San Francisco | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
moonlight bouncing off water
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Great topic Molias!

I've only been in one relationship. That relationship basically started by he and I flirting a bunch, hanging out once and flirting at a party. Then after the party I asked him out on a date. Then he came over the day after the movie date to my house. Then he essentially said something to the effect of his mom is glad he has a girlfriend now because blah, blah, blah... Basically he assumed I was his girlfriend and I didn't say "hey woah, umm, wanna ask me about that". I have always resented that the relationship started that way and it's kind of symptomatic of how the entire relationship went.

In the future, although I won't talk about every aspect of a relationship, I will certainly talk to whomever about the important pre- relationship stuff.


I am ME and that is the only label I need.

Posts: 864 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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