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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!
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.
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.
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."
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.