Communication is important, this is received wisdom. So why is it that when we're dating, the words "we have to talk" inspire such dread and nausea in the most staunch and strong stomached of us? It seems to affect the male gut more than the female. I suspect women have a perverse love for "the talk". Women get emails from their friends in the build up - "re. tonight . . . good luck with the talk!", "is tonight the talk?!" or worst of all, "I hope he turns up for the talk!". This post is a survivors guide to the talk, how you can all get through it quickly and with no harm done.
Once you've got the talk on the agenda time is of the essence. You both know that the talk is already taking up time that could be spent doing something more pleasant and in addition to this, after a certain amount of time (I'd say a minute and half) the female voice actually becomes white noise to the male ear. So, get your points in early and if you see him drifting off, break flow to launch a seek and inflate mission on his ego, pay him a compliment and bang! he's back in the room.
Be structured in your approach to the talk; go away, think about what you want to say, what you want to hear (and what you don't) and come back with structured Q&A. Don't expect a lover to understand you immediately and completely solely by virtue of their position in your life. They cannot read your mind and you should be more thankful for that than embittered!
Do not use sexually affectionate gestures or innuendo. This just confuses.
Do not get drunk. You'll end up fighting or fucking.
Do not cry. This wastes time and encourages physical contact (a hug) - you could end up fighting or fucking.
But this is to over complicate the talk, because at its heart it is almost always the same. It's about wanting to know what the future holds, wanting to be reassured as to ones desirability and usefulness and it's about getting attention. If you bear this basic set of needs in mind along with the above advice about communication, you should be able to get through the talk with the minimum of emotional mumbling and tyre kicking. It's also worth bearing in mind that the talk should not be taken too seriously, if things get deep, the talk can lead to a break up, or worse, marriage and/or kids. Remember, it is possible to reassure but not commit when put on the spot.
Finally, having convened and completed the talk, there should be at least a 6 month gap before the next one. Otherwise you may find yourselves moaning that 'ALL we do now is TALK, we're NO FUN anymore, it's all TALKING'.
Right then, off you go, suitably armed for your next big chat. Personally, I avoid them like the plague.
Note: There is a sister talk to the one described here, that's the break up talk, the dumping talk. But that has a whole different personality and, as I've written before, is a conversation best had by text message.