From Casual to Commitment

How to move your relationship to the next level.
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Upping the Ante

The beginning was bliss: He'd show up on your doorstep wearing a sportcoat, armed with the "research" he'd done on swank bistros and out-of-the-way spots. You were giddy with new romance, but since you only saw each other once or twice a week you still had plenty of solo time. But that was three months ago. Now you'd like to move out of your Wednesday- and Saturday-night date schedule and spend a lazy Sunday afternoon with him or maybe even take a trip. You'd like to say, with complete conviction, "my boyfriend," rather than, "this guy I've been kind of seeing." The trouble is, he still seems perfectly comfortable with the more casual arrangement. How to move to the next step?

The answer is simple: Talk to him, says a survey of men across the country, courtesy of the Web site Although a few men suggested a woman wait for her man to broach the commitment issue, the majority urge her to initiate a dialogue. "I'm clueless when it comes to reading women's minds," says a 37-year-old Boston engineer. "I need to be told straight out what's going on in her head, especially when she wants to get more serious."

And a 41-year-old Los Angeles schoolteacher says that although many women fear that having "the talk" will scare him off, most men expect it. "It shouldn't come as a big surprise to him," he says.

Indeed, Nina Atwood, a therapist and author of Date Lines: Communication from Hello to I Do and Everything in Between (Owl, 1998), says that being coy could actually be damaging to a relationship. "Playing it cool and casual in the hopes of not scaring them off is a huge mistake because it sets a tone for the relationship that's not authentic," she says.

Granted, there are no guarantees that you'll be happy with your guy's response. He may indeed go running for the hills. But if you're really looking for a long-term relationship, you're better off knowing sooner rather than later whether your new love has potential or not.

Continued on page 2:  Things to Consider Before "the Talk"


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