How To Let Your Newest Beau Know You Aren't Ready To Make Things Official

Everyone wants a relationship — or do they? This pervasive myth is especially tacked onto traditional stereotypes about women, says The Good Men Project. In reality, it's all up to the individual. Some people want serious, monogamous relationships, some want a string of hookups, and others want something in between. Other people don't want relationships or sex at all, and that's okay, too!

If you're not ready to DTR (define the relationship) with the person you're seeing, you're in good company. Dating culture has evolved to make room for more casual and ambiguous relationships, especially with the rise of dating apps. And while over half of people still say they use apps to find an exclusive partner, a sizable minority — 34% — say they use apps just for entertainment, 26% say they're primarily looking for casual sex, and 20% say they're looking for non-exclusive romance (per YouGov).

Even if keeping things unofficial is becoming more common, it's important to discuss your intentions with your partner to ensure you're both on the same page. Here's how to do it without making things awkward.

How to talk about keeping your relationship unofficial

Things are going well with your newest beau, and you two are vibing enough to continue seeing each other. But you're just not ready to start a defined, committed relationship. The best thing to do is to talk about your needs as soon as possible. On navigating early relationship labels, clinical social worker Matt Lundquist tells Women's Health, "When in doubt, it's best to talk about it, as transparency and clarity are helpful. ... Vagueness and guessing increase the chances of hurt feelings and surprises."

So, how exactly do you start the conversation? Life coach Noelle Cordeaux explains to Elite Daily the importance of negotiation. "Communication and negotiation might not sound sexy early on, but [they] can be life-saving in the long run," she says. Ask your partner about their needs, expectations, and preferred timeline for starting a relationship. Then explore where you agree and disagree. For example, you may decide to continue hooking up while seeing other people. Or your partner may reveal that they want exclusivity, which you can choose to accept or reject. You may also set a time limit for how long you'll continue seeing each other without an official label.

Relationship education organization One Love advises focusing on yourself, not what you don't like about the other person. Be kind, though assertive, during the conversation. Your beau may pressure you to change your mind, but stand your ground. No one benefits from a forced relationship.

Tips for navigating an unofficial relationship

You've talked about keeping things undefined, and you've both agreed to continue seeing each other. Now what? First, it's important to maintain rules and boundaries, especially if you might be dating other people. You should also get clear with yourself on what your intentions really are. Do you see this relationship growing into something more meaningful? Or are you actually just benching the person you're dating? If, deep down, you don't see a future with your boo, ending things sooner than later might be better than stringing them along.

If you do hope to make things official one day, check in with yourself after two or three months, therapist and life coach Tess Brigham tells MindBodyGreen. This gives you enough time to get to know the other person and determine how you feel about them. But remember that everyone's needs and timelines are different. Taking more time is okay, as long as you continue discussing your expectations with your partner.

Keep in mind, however, that situationship-type relationships don't work for everyone. If your partner wants something more and you're still not ready, or if you feel more stressed than happy together, it might be time to end things for the sake of your well-being (via Talkspace).