Life Advice



Erika Ettin: Ask and you shall receive

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

All too often, I get questions like these from clients:

— What did they mean when they said that?

— How do I know if they want to be exclusive?

— Why didn’t they text me this morning like usual?

— Why don’t we have plans lined up for the weekend already?

From my 11 years as a dating coach, I can certainly give an educated guess as to each of the questions based on the clients’ situation and what I know about dating ... and human nature in general. But when it comes down to it, the only real way to know the answer to your question is to ask.

I know this may seem like common sense, but if you saw the 100+ messages I get daily on Instagram, you’d know that sometimes common sense goes out the window when you’re interested or invested in someone.


It’s not that people don’t know they should ask what’s on their mind — it’s that they often don’t want to. Why? It’s easier to maintain the status quo than to rock the boat. In other words, they go by the philosophy that no news is good news. But no news also often leads to anxiety and the prolonging of a precarious situation.

Let’s take “How do I know if they want to be exclusive?”

It’s obvious that the only way to get an answer to this is to ask, “How would you feel about being exclusive?” or something similar. It’s not rocket science. But the often-compelling reason not to broach the subject is you already know the answer, and it’s not the one you want to hear. The fear is if you ask, the other person will say “no,” and then this situationship, or whatever you’re in, will end. It’s easier for many to live in the gray area, not asking what is on their mind to prolong a situation just a little bit longer.

Now let’s look at “Why didn’t they text me this morning like usual?”

Who knows? Maybe they had a dentist appointment. Or their phone died. Or they slept through their alarm. Or they’re mad at you for some reason. Simply to avoid the possibility of the answer being the last scenario (being mad), many will just not ask. But it’s OK to ask. In fact, I always encourage it! “Hey! I was surprised I didn’t hear from you this morning. All OK?” Pretty simple. If, on the off-chance the other person is angry with you and didn’t have the guts to say it, then forcing the issue is a good thing. Nothing productive comes out of letting issues and questions simmer. They always come out later.

So, in a relationship — dating or otherwise — if you don’t know something, ask. Might the answer not be to your liking? Of course. And might that hurt? Yes. But it’s better to know now, isn’t it? Ignorance isn’t always bliss. So, ask and you shall receive.

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