What Not to Say

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Where Do You Stand?

So there are the little words that hint at where you stand -- and then there are the big questions that attempt to determine where you stand for sure.

"You don't want to overthink a relationship, and by trying to put a label on it, you potentially add pressure to the situation," says Newman. For both of you, actually.

On the one hand, at some point everyone's entitled to know "what the deal is." But there are ways to find out that work better than others.

"After three dates, he called me up at work and I said, 'Hey, it's not a good time, I've got somebody in my office,' and he said, 'Okay, just one question. I just want to know where we stand,'" says Gail, 32, a copywriter in Morristown, New Jersey. Let's just say there was no fourth date.

The thing is, we tend to forget that -- believe it or not -- part of the fun of dating is not knowing where you stand. And isn't fun the whole idea? Women, especially, love to organize and schedule things: to know where a call, a flirtation, a date, a new relationship "is going." Yes, you shouldn't waste your time, but you should also enjoy the moment! Try to resist the urge -- in your mind or out loud -- to label and file and know.

Also, at the end of the day -- with someone you like, with someone who'll last -- there really is no such thing as a totally fatal blooper. When something feels right, you'll naturally feel more patient, and if something pops out, you can't go too far wrong. Remember Kara, from above? That guy's still her boyfriend; Mom's birthday card was just a speed bump along the road. And then there's Colin, 35, an educational consultant in New York City, whose now-girlfriend took him to a party and introduced him as her "boyfriend" before they'd had That Talk. Oops! By all unwritten rules, she'd said too much, too soon. But guess what: He was stoked. After the party, he said, "Hey, did I get upgraded?" and she blushed a million shades of crimson. Then he said," No problem! Will you be my girlfriend?"

 

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