A lot of people want to jump into defining the relationship when, quite frankly, they're just not ready. It makes sense, because with people meeting on dating apps and perhaps dating multiple people at once it's hard to know where you stand in the early stages of dating. It can feel unstable and vulnerable — and that's hard. But make sure you don't just DTR because one of you is frustrated. “Far too many, relationship defining talks are initiated because one of the parties is upset about their nebulous relationship status,” Demetrius Figueroa, founder of the dating blog and podcast Tao of Indifference, tells Bustle. “Entering into a relationship is a big step, one you shouldn’t make out of anger. Instead, try to start the conversation from a neutral position. Have the conversation that you both want to have, not a conversation one of you wants to have because you’re angry.”
Instead, make sure that you're in the right place to DTR, then bring up the conversation. Not sure if you're ready? Well, you have to make it through some crucial getting-to-know-each-other steps first. Here's how you know you're not ready to DTR, because sometimes disagreeing is a good thing:
1You Don't Know What You Want
Just because a relationship might seem like the next logical step, it doesn't mean that's what you actually want. Maybe you're at a place in your life where you're not sure or getting over a breakup. Don't settle until you want to. In fact, you need to make sure you know if they really want it, too. Try talking about that before you DTR. “You should be upfront about what you’re looking for, but leave room for conversation,” Figueroa says. “It’s one thing to say ‘We’re going to be in a relationship, and it’s going to be like this’ and it’s another to say ‘This is the kind of relationship I want. What do you think?’”
2You Haven't Disagreed on Anything
Sounds great, right? Wrong. Fighting is natural. “All couples argue,” Sarah Watson, licensed professional counselor and sex therapist, tells Bustle. “It’s incredibly healthy to discuss your differences and what you need from your partner. What isn't healthy is screaming and saying hurtful things that you cannot take back.” You need to learn how to express your disagreements, rather than just pretending they don't exist, before you DTR.
3You Haven't Worked Out Each Other's Communication Styles
When you're in the early stages, you let things slide — you're running on infatuation and you don't always take the time to establish strong foundations, like communication. “Healthy communication in a relationship is important because it is the foundation of any partnership. Having the confidence to talk openly with your partner, regardless of whether the subject matter is positive or negative, is one of the true signs that you and your partner are practicing healthy communication,” dating expert and matchmaker Sarah Patt tells Bustle. Make sure you've gotten those skills before things get serious.
4It's Clear One Of You wants To Be More Serious Than The Other
This is a tough one, because it requires both of you being honest. But if one of you wants something really serious and the other is looking for a fling, it's going to spell disaster in the long run. You need to make sure you're on the same page before jumping into a relationship.
5You Haven't Met Each Other's Friends
I need my friend's opinions on everything— and it was so important to me that they met my girlfriend before she was, well, my girlfriend. If you've been in a loved-up bubble, you may miss the signs that something is... off. Meeting each other's friends allows an objective opinions to be made before you DTR. Listen to your friends — they care about you.
6You Feel Pressured
Maybe you don't want a relationship, maybe you just don't like them enough, maybe you just need more time — that's fine. Just make sure that you don't get into anything serious because you're feeling the pressure, it's a surefire recipe for things going wrong down the line.
7*They* Feel Pressured
Similarly, no matter how much you might like someone, you can't make them be in the same place as you. “The quickest way to push somebody to one side of the fence is to force them to choose,” Figueroa says. If they need space, you need to give it. But if seems like they're never going to feel the same way you do, you may need to move on.
There's so much uncertainty in the early stages of dating, it makes sense that you may feel rushed to DTR. But make sure you're ready — because if not, it'll be even harder down the line.