Modern Dating Needs Modern Communication

by Russ Haywood

Your steady date asks, “What are we really?”

This question may strike a familiar panic for some. When a date or a new couple experiences a gap between relationship expectations and relationship realities the relationship becomes confused, counterproductive, and may cease to exist. It’s no wonder that a study of 5,000 singles showed over a quarter of people admit to trying to avoid the Define the Relationship (DTR) talk.

It’s really hard to talk about relationships. How does anyone even talk about relationships?! Whether in casual or blunt terms, conversations are the main means couples use to negotiate their relationship. 
CanWe helps speed up and deepen the relationship negotiation process, with…

A New “Relationship Grammar”

Modern dating calls for modern DTR talks. Let’s refine and strengthen the language, structure, and terms that articulate how relationships flourish. Our new “grammar” helps clearly articulate the direction and meaning for many relationship types (not just romantic ones).

Working with media psychologists, sociologists, and strategists, we’re outlining a new hierarchy of relationship expectations for the CanWe app. We’d like to introduce this new Relationship Grammar™  below to aid communication in both the digital and organic social realms. Our new hierarchy of terms includes Intents, Must-haves, Nice-to-haves, and Good-to-knows.

Let’s learn more about what each of these components have to offer to your dating ventures, in more detail…

INTENTS: Broad goals two people build a relationship toward. 

Intents encapsulate a relationship goal and are particularly defined by one’s personal configuration of their Must-have and Nice-to-have expectations.

How many times have you been networking with a co-worker only to discover halfway through the first drink “this is actually a date!?”. How many times have you gone head-over-heels to help a “friend,” only to have them ask for more help later after not inviting you to their party? It’s easy to assume or project where you think a relationship is going when the reality can be rather different.

Pursuing the right relationship with the right person, at the right time, is phenomenally difficult. The miss-match of romantic Intents is the foundation of many social faux pas and romantic comedy films. “Why is he cooking us breakfast when we just met at the bar?”. “Why is he interrupting my wedding to say he loves me?”.

CanWe challenges all users to explicitly connect through an Intent. Once paired in-person, you may unveil and test as many Intents as you desire with a connection, and neither side sees which Intents were not chosen to share—nor which intents were chosen but had zero supporting Must-have alignments. (More about Must-haves later). Thus, if a desired Intent fails to unveil, users have the plausible deniability that rather major expectations were missing!

The seven most common romantic relationship types that people are seeking…

*More to come…

MUST-HAVES: Truly important and foundational expectations.

As the sharp parameters that define a relationship Intent, Must-haves are truly important and foundational. An unalignment of these major expectations ought to stop a relationship cold. When a CanWe pairing fails to align on Must-haves for an Intent, it ought to feel like the couple has dodged a bullet…

Often Must-haves are obvious but also tragically assumed.

Examples of Must-haves for Something Serious:

Ideally, an Intent ought to be built with as few Must-haves as possible, to prevent the overly picky denial of possible relationships. However, the more involved a relationship Intent is, the more Must-haves and Nice-to-haves it needs to define and support it. Intents like Something Forever have many supporting expectations that define the Intent; whereas Something Physical totally sidesteps many long-term expectations altogether and focuses on the common expectations that come with a more casual, pleasure-focused relationship.

NICE-TO-HAVES: Important traits that shape a relationship, but are not instantly fatal to its sustainability.

Nice-to-haves are really important but not instantly fatal to a relationship (though they may become significant headwinds over time). Nice-to-haves provide a lot of color and richness to what a relationship Intent might actually look like for the couple. A Nice-to-have unalignment could be forgivable if everything else was going well.

Examples of Nice-to-haves for Something Serious:

Every CanWe pairing session will experience unalignments. There is no perfect algorithm that can tell if a relationship should proceed or end—nor will there ever be. Ultimately, every relationship takes work. The major question for couples on CanWe is exploring what that work will be and evaluating if that work is worth doing.

GOOD-TO-KNOWS: Traits that are not critical to a relationship but are helpful in generally supporting the relationship’s goals.

While not critical to a relationship, Good-to-knows are helpful in generally supporting the relationship’s goals. This category may include hobbies or relatively minor preferences. If you and a partner do not have them in common, it likely won’t be a big deal at all. If you do have them in common, they may make your bond stronger.

Examples Good-to-knows for Something Serious:


Whether your date is online or offline, with CanWe in hand or without, we hope this post has empowered you with a few more words to draw on for those tricky relationship-defining conversations.

Curious about how this grammar works in our app? Read Meet CanWe: Your New Relationship Compass or download it here.

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