8 Conversations You'll Inevitably Have With Your Hookup

Designed by Alex Marino.
In this age of label-aversion, hookup apps, and social-media flirtation (nothing says romance like a DM, right?), few would disagree that dating has become a particularly complicated, exhausting animal. And whether or not you're in a rush to settle down with one person, the oh-so-common gray area between "just friends" and "significant other" can breed about a million awkward moments.

If just thinking about the possible messiness is making you seriously consider a tranquil life of romance-free solitude, hold a beat. While there's no official rulebook for handling this not-quite-defined period — full of questions about how to introduce one another to friends or how to explain why your purse is filled with AZO and your sex life has to halt for a few days — there are some ways to make your situation a bit less stressful. Read on for two dating coaches' advice on handling the conversations that come before the are-we-or-aren't-we talk, and stave off self-imposed hermithood for at least another day.

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Designed by Alex Marino.
If you've ever experienced this, you know there's nothing quite so frustrating. Since you haven't officially partnered up, your almost-bae isn't breaking any rules. But that doesn't make seeing him or her with someone else any more fun. "Take some deep breaths, and pay attention to the emotions this experience brings up for you," says dating coach Lindsay Chrisler. "Jealousy doesn't feel good, but it's completely normal and probably indicative that you really like this person."

Once unfortunate eye contact has been made, Chrisler recommends tossing out a gracious, friendly, and — above all else — brief greeting. If there's a tense vibe the next time you get together with this person, don't be afraid to ask how the encounter felt for him or her. "Gently joking about the coincidence or sharing a candid 'I felt so awkward!' can help to ease the tension," Chrisler says. On the flip side, if you'd prefer to pretend nothing happened, that's also valid. In this case, relationship expert and dateologist Tracey Steinberg suggests a solo pep talk. "Approach the run-in from a position of strength," she says. "Whomever that other person was, he or she is not an automatic threat, because you are a confident person with a lot to offer." So, there!
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Designed by Alex Marino.
The English language is sorely lacking in nouns that convey "person I've seen naked a few times but haven't officially committed to yet, so please don't ask any questions." While we wait for Merriam-Webster to get on that, though, there's no avoiding the fact that everyone from casual acquaintances to your meddling waiter will likely inquire upon you and your dining/party/walking partner's status. "Until you have an official title, just introduce each other as friends," says Steinberg. "If you're pushed into an explanation, redirect the chatter into more neutral territory and recount how you met." Not only does a banal statement like, "This is Sam; we met through a mutual friend" effectively shut down the conversation, it also satisfies the super-nosey types' need for a bit of backstory.
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Bowing out of a hang session because you have the flu isn't too difficult to explain. Disclosing most chronic medical issues is also not generally a situation where one needs to worry about judgment (unless you happen to be falling for a real jerk). Bringing up your sexual health, on the other hand, can be a little pricklier.

Though UTIs and yeast infections are quite common, they aren't exactly fodder for flirty banter. They do, however, come up when explaining why you need a sexual break. Chrisler's advice? "Talk about it in person so you don't have a text lingering out there." Open with an honest, "I have something awkward to tell you," and lay it out in as much (or as little) detail as you feel comfortable with. It's also worth remembering — and even pointing out — that not going to bed together need not halt your courtship. Really amazing sex can overshadow everything else with a new partner, so taking a forced time-out to let your emotional and intellectual connection catch up can actually be a strange blessing in disguise. Drink plenty of water, keep AZO UTI Pain Products on hand during your dates to fight any UTI symptoms, and find new, perhaps out-of-the-house ways to connect.
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Nothing dampens the holiday spirit quite like agonizing over whether it's too soon to issue an invite to a gathering of close friends. "When in doubt, it's always better to go slow than to make dramatic gestures because you feel like they're expected," says Chrisler. "There is nothing worse than romance out of obligation." So listen to your emotions and communicate accordingly. If extending an invite to your Friendsgiving is filling you with dread, suggest catching up a few days after instead.

Steinberg applies the same keep-it-simple strategy for gifting holidays. "If you've just recently met, spend a few dollars on something small, like a bottle of their spirit of choice," she says. "If you're dealing with Valentine's Day, you can absolutely coast through on a smile, a kiss, and a warm 'Happy Valentine’s Day' wish."
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Whether it means sticking to a more rigorous leg-shaving regimen or toning down your signature snark, there's a certain expectation to be on your most socially acceptable behavior during the early stages of a romance. Still, as you spend more time together, chances are your sort-of-partner may have some lifestyle choices you're not willing to bite your tongue about.

"First things first: You need to decide if you can accept this person for who he or she is," says Steinberg. "No one appreciates someone who wants to completely change him or her, so if too many habits are a major turn-off, consider moving on." If the behaviors aren't red flags but rather slight annoyances, like always leaving dishes piled yay high, then approach the request with a light, non-aggressive energy, and ask that he or she be a little more mindful around you. It won't be your sexiest convo, but the right tone can keep it from moving into full-on tiff territory.
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Let's start by owning up to the fact that every last one of us turns into an internet sleuth the moment we develop a crush. If you're 15 months deep into his or her Instagram, you better believe he or she has cruised your ancient prom albums on Facebook. Abstaining from a deep creep altogether comes highly recommended by our experts, but a more realistic move is to at least not make your new depth of knowledge obvious during IRL interactions. If you want to conceal your, uh, research, avoid referencing posts that predate the day you accepted the friend or follow request. If you can't be bothered, hey, there's no shame in owning your savvy detective skills.

When it comes to your online dialogue — think Liking, commenting, and tagging photos — take it slow and steady. "Try to interact online the same way you would with anybody else you'd just recently met," says Steinberg. "Keep it casual, don’t single him or her out on your feed, and don’t comment on what he or she posts until you’re regularly contacting each other offline, too."
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PDA is a polarizing topic. While some naturally touchy folks are all about expressing their burgeoning emotions through hand-holding and middle-of-the-bar make-out sessions, others find it to be just about the rudest thing two people can do. Luckily, figuring out how your partner feels about the act is as easy as observing his or her reactions and speaking up. "If you notice one person wanting to do more touching, communicate without making him or her feel wrong by simply saying what you feel at that moment," says Chrisler. Talking through your PDA preferences might feel like a bold move, but it will deepen your connection more than on-the-street caressing ever could.
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Designed by Alex Marino.
"You'll both know when it is time to have the conversation," assures Chrisler. However, the scary part comes from realizing that you might not be on the same wavelength in terms of whether and how to move forward. Still, if your discomfort with your current state outweighs your fear, you know it is time to get it all out there.

"It's totally normal to be nervous," says Chrisler. "Pay attention to your needs, and make a choice about what you want first. Next, be honest and convey that as clearly as possible. Finally, be ready to really listen when you ask how he or she feels." If your wants don't match up, come to an agreement about whether you need to commit more time before making a change or if you're fundamentally looking for different things. Vulnerability is never easy, but if you've practiced open communication in every discussion leading up to this one, you'll be shocked by how well you express yourself.
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