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So, the story is a little complicated and I always have a little trouble expressing myself, I guess that's also one of the reasons why I'm asking for help.

First, I'm a Brazilian guy, about to turn 20 years old and I'm gay.
I started college about a year ago and there I met this guy. He's awesome, really sweet and smart and all of that. At first we became just friends, and that went on for about three months. Until that point I thought he was straight (He would even tell me about this girl he was with and he wanted something a little more serious with her) and we were becoming really good friends.

One day he asked if I wanted to go see a movie with him and by the end of the night we had kissed. That's when things started to get complicated. He was the first I had ever been with but I was not the first guy he had been. He told me he had wanted to be with me for a while and that day he finally had had the courage to do it. We "dated" for about two months and I developed feelings for him. After that when I found out he had been seeing another guy as well. As much as hurt as I felt, I kept it to myself since we had not agreed on being in a serious relationship anyway and I really cared about him and didn't want to ruin our friendship. I told him that I didn't want to be anything other than friends with him anymore and that I wished he'd find someone he would be happy with. My feelings for him didn't go away but I really wanted him to be happy and I couldn't imagine what it would be like to not having him as my friend, he had become a really important person for me.

After this we kinda started talking a little less and pretty much only saw each other at college. Until one day he told he missed me and wanted things between us to be the way it was before. I told him that I had developed strong feelings for him and I couldn't keep things the same as before if he would be with other people at the same time. He told me he would do whatever he needed to be with me so I gave him another chance. We have been like this for about 8 months now. That brings me to my question.

We have a quite romantic relationship and I know he has only been with me for the past 8 months but every time I try to talk to him about us, and about where our relationship is going he says that we have nothing serious and that he's not ready for that. My question is:

How do I tell him that I want to be in a serious relationship without hurting or scaring him?

A few things I know that maybe a factor for his fear of being in a relationship:

  • A few years before I met him he had a girlfriend who cheated on him several times and was really abusive towards him (physically and emotionally)
  • His family is very "conservative" and I know he's really scared of telling them hes bi
  • He tried a relationship with another guy before me and this guy also cheated on him
  • I just edited it to narrow down the question to an answerable interpersonal goal. If you disagree with my edit, feel free to roll it back. – ElizB Aug 20 '18 at 1:39
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Welcome to being in love. Those are great news for you but unfortunately, there's no tutorial that explain what to do or what not to do or whether the love is equal on both sides and if you both share the same vision and same expectations.

To answer your question:

Can I help him be ready

So the most straight forward answer is that there're no magic words that you can use but you can simply give him time and the more quality time you'll spend together the more feelings he will develop for you. Admiration, respect, listening, generosity are keys in making the other partner get connected to you. Don't push it too much though.

If I can't, how do I tell him that I want to be in a serious relationship without hurting or scaring him

You've been together for 8 month you're entitled to ask or state that you should be exclusive. But the key here is to use the right words, don't use "I want a serious relationship" instead you should use "I'm a serious guy and I feel committed to our relationship" that sends a clear message about yourself and about you and him (us).

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Define "serious relationship".

Not trying to be flippant or condescending, but definitions vary. For some a "serious relationship" is being in a relationship with someone they've fallen in love with whom they would like to remain in love with for the time being, for others "serious relationship" has a connotation of long term commitment, for others perhaps even life long commitment, and for still others it can carry some connotations like interdependence, monogamy, nesting, white picket fences... And so on, and so forth...

People have different ideas of what a "serious relationship" is, what it should look like, how people in serious relationships should behave, etc. Part of the trouble is that a lot of people seem to think that their interpretation of "serious relationship" is the correct, or only interpretation, and that their definition is universal and universally understood. Well... As troubling and non-romantic as it may sound... That's not really the case.

It sounds like your interpretation is perhaps a little more "traditional"? I really hate that word... "Traditional" always carries connotations. Perhaps better put, your interpretation would seem to include things like monogamy, long term commitment, and eventually settling down with a life partner, or husband. There's nothing wrong with this interpretation. It's beautiful and romantic and it works well for an awful lot of people.

It sounds like your, partner? boyfriend? friend with benefits? may have a different interpretation of "serious relationship". His interpretation might include a lot of the same goals and values, but you won't know for sure until he's ready to have those conversations.

But it sounds like he isn't really ready to have those conversations, possibly because his interpretation has been tarnished by previous relationships. Again, you can't know for sure until you two talk about it, but this is often the case. Take "long term commitment" as an example; while that may sound like reassuring security to you, it may sound like uncomfortable vulnerability and/or possessiveness to him.

On the other hand you're about to turn 19... And while it's trite and cliche... You're awfully young. (Please don't hate me for saying it, at least not as much as I hated people for saying it when I was engaged to be married at your age.)

I'm not trying to say that you're incapable of having serious relationships, or that you don't know what love is. I'm not trying to invalidate you in any way. But... It's worth keeping in mind that the person you are at 19 is likely going to be a very different than the person you will be at 25. Just like the person you are now is very different than the person you were at 13. You're at a stage in life where you're learning, growing, and changing rapidly.

Again, I'm not intending to invalidate you, or your relationship. It's just worth keeping all that in mind if you want to work towards that interpretation of "serious relationships". You'll be growing and changing a lot in the next 5-10 years, so if you're hoping for a relationship that will last that long, it'll be pretty important to ask yourself if you two are growing and changing in similar directions and have similar goals. Truth be told, that advice holds at most any age. Most folks never stop growing and changing over the years, people grow together or they grow apart.

Beyond asking what definitions of "serious relationship" you're working with, and asking if you are growing in similar directions towards similar goals... Ask yourself if this relationship is working for you right now. Are you enjoying this? If nothing changed would you be happy? Looking forward to the future with someone is great, but you can't live there, you have to live in the right now.

If your right now sucks, because you don't feel secure in your relationship as it stands, you're going to have to communicate with your guy about it. Many people don't respond well to the "serious relationship talk", sounds much too serious, and can come across as a demand to move the relationship forward at an unnatural pace. Keep in mind that adding seriousness to a relationship that sucks may not fix the relationship, it may just lead a serious relationship that sucks.

Rather than having that serious relationship talk, you could tell him how you're feeling right now and why you're feeling that way, without asking for a "serious relationship". Let him respond to your feelings. Talking about your right now may help it suck a little less, and it may lead to an opportunity to talk about definitions and goals. You may even find, as is oftentimes the case, that you're already having a serious relationship he's just afraid to call it that, because of a tarnished definition of "serious relationship".

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Hooman, YOUR biggest problem in this has nothing to do with your being a "Brazilian guy, about to turn 20 years old and I'm gay." You could leave these details out, and make your post completely gender neutral, and (my) response(s) to your questions would be the same. You Can't, You Have, and You Haven't, (at least not yet).

Twenty is a hard age, anyway, in that as adults, we want the adult stuff that goes along with it. Realistically, though, the basic ability to differentiate between what we can and cannot control (note the emphasis) does not develop until the late twenties (if ever, IMHO)

At the heart (no pun intended) of the question, you can't "help someone be ready." In this case, they are, or they're not. You've already asked several times, hence:

every time I try to talk to him about us, and about where our relationship is going he says that we have nothing serious and that he's not ready for that.

Initiating the conversation IS in your control, however, you are unwilling to accept that part (remember, 20yo) that is a) not at all in your control; and, b) completely within his control, as he stated: "he's not ready...". As I'm certain ("every time I try to talk...") that you have expressed your desire for a more serious relationship, as he continues to stay, these convo's apparently have not been sufficient "to either hurt or scare him".

According to your post, early on you realized exactly what kind of person this was:

He told me he had wanted to be with me ...After that when I found out he had been seeing another guy as well.

Here he was willing to string you along as an also, and by the rest of your post, you were a willing participant: nothing changed.

So the first thing to consider is what is and is not in your control? One can only control what they think or feel -- and, yes, based on their own circumstances. One cannot control what another is (or will) think or feel. Information can be provided, but ultimately, that person will think or feel as they see fit, for their circumstance(s). This is not permission to be cruel, but if our needs/wants/desires are not met, a line has to be drawn. Of course, there are always consequences to our decisions, and these may affect our "others", but we have our own load to carry and they have theirs -- it is unfair (to you, in this case) to carry both loads.

So, what do you YOU, Hooman, control? And yes, this is your question, WHAT DOES HOOMAN WANT?

YOUR CHOICE: Serious relationship, or just hanging out (leave it as is)? Neither answer is wrong, per se, unless it is not what Hooman wants. If you're "happy/satisfied" with the current arrangement: Great, but stop pestering the guy, he's not gonna change and you know it. If you're not happy/satisfied: Great, move along but stop pestering the guy, he's not gonna change and you know it.

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