The inevitable gray area. Every relationship has this phase: where you both know you like each other but neither one wants to step forward to define the relationship because that might push your potential partner away. You spend hours, days, even weeks stressing about what they are thinking or how their feeling in this relationship.
Typical feelings during this phase are anxiety, nervousness, clingliness and fear. There are definitely ways to overcome the “friends with benefits” non-label that you have going on.
Decide what you want: Do you want to be in a relationship right now? Do you want to be in a relationship with this person? If the answer is no to either question, then you shouldn’t be scheming to make the other person want to be your significant other, you cruel heartless fool. If you do want to see where a relationship with this person leads, continue on.
Face your fear(s): Think about the absolute worst thing that can happen. Most people think, “If this person left me I would be devastated.” But really, staying in a friends with benefits relationship for 4 years, when you could be finding someone who does want to be your significant other, is more painful. Face the possibility of pain and rejection now to avoid a crisis later on down the road.
Hint at the future: It’s always a good sign when you and your significant other make future plans. You can plan to catch a movie on Friday or attend a wedding together in a couple months. Look for hints about the future to get perspective on how the other person feels about you. Plan something a few week to a month in advance and see how they answer. Do they brush you off and tell you they’ll let you know closer to the date? Or do they readily agree?
Ask the hard questions: You don’t need to press them for eternal love, but it’s good to know where you stand. After a few dates and spending a lot of time together, you need to get clarification. Asking “Are you seeing other people?”, “Where do you see this going?” and ”What are you looking for out of a relationship?” isn’t going to send someone running for the hills. Communication is key, if you want answers, you need to ask the question.
Accept their answers: The worst thing you can do when they tell you, “I don’t want to label anything, I don’t want a relationship,” is think that they will change. Especially when someone is being blunt with you about not wanting labels, not wanting a relationship, they’re flying a big jumbo flag that says “I DON’T WANT A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU”. It sucks and it hurts, but it’s better to rip off the bandaid now, while it’s still a bandaid and not a full body cast.
I always recommend not sleeping with someone you’re interested in before you get some sort of defined relationship. It doesn’t have to be marriage, or long term, but it is always good to know that they also plan on being mutually exclusive while they are with you. I know this isn’t the popular answer for a lot of people, but it saves you from spending months in the gray area.