7 Tips For Defining The Relationship, According To Experts
There are a few defining moments in a relationship but, before any of those, you have to actually define the relationship — that big conversation that asks where you two are going, what you want, and all that other fun stuff. Even though it's such a significant conversation, it's not always easy to have.
That's why Match and hello products dubbed October 2 the official DTR Day — the perfect opportunity to finally have that "where is this going?" conversation. "It’s often difficult to DTR — the initiation of that conversation can feel awkward and induce anxiety," Match dating expert Rachel DeAlto tells Bustle. "Creating a DTR day is really a conversation starter!"
Having the DTR talk is a bit like pulling off a Band-Aid — starting the conversation is the toughest part. And, often, you'll both feel better once it happens. "Broaching the topic is often the hardest part!" DeAlto says. "The rules of dating have changed, but our desire for companionship hasn’t. I often work with people that are very frustrated that they don’t know where their relationships are headed — men and women. DTR is an important step." But that doesn't mean it's easy. How do you know if it's time to DTR? And how do you go about it? Here's what the experts want you to know.
1. Make Sure You're *Not* Doing It Out Of Frustration
You don't want to necessarily jump into a relationship just because you're not sure what's going on with this person.
“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.” If you just have questions about what's happening between the two of you, you can address those, without having to make the relationship "official".
2. You Might Need To Get Vulnerable
If you're going to be open about what the relationship means and where it's going, things can get pretty raw emotionally. "People are increasingly terrified to have the relationship conversation because vulnerability is scary," Nicole Richardson, LPC-S, LMFT, tells Bustle. "In the digital age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to be open, sincere and vulnerable. We don’t want to put ourselves out there unless we are sure the other person will reciprocate our feelings." But to DTR, you need to be willing to put yourself out there.
3. Make Sure Your Communication Is On Point
Before you decide to enter into a relationship with someone, good communication is a must. “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. So make sure that your communication is going well before you jump into anything.
4. It Should Already Be Kind Of Obvious
When should you define the relationship? Well, a lot of the time, it will be kind of obvious that things have been progressing — it's just about confirming that you both are on the same page. "If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re happy in your relationship, and just want it to be clear where your partner wants to go with things, that’s a perfect time to define the relationship," Figueroa says. "If you feel like you know what you want, and you both seem to be on the same page, that’s also a good time to define the relationship."
5. Don't Start With "We Need To Talk"
Once you're ready to define the relationship, make sure to start the conversation on the right foot. “There are few sentences that come with as much baggage as ‘we need to talk’ in modern dating,” Figueroa tells Bustle. “If they’re already a bit gun-shy about defining the relationship, hearing that will only make them more anxious. You’ll get better results by saying something like ‘Hey, can we talk about where we see things going between us?’” Even if they don't want anything serious, they should be open to having a conversation.
6. Be Open About What You Want
Once you're ready to DTR, it's time important to be open about what you want — you want the relationship to start with a foundation of honesty, so don't hold back. “Whether it’s deleting dating profiles, or making things Facebook Official, paint a complete picture of what you’ll want and need before you enter into a relationship, and also what you need during the relationship,” Figueroa says.
7. Try To Make It A Conversation
Even though you need to be honest about what you're looking for, you also don't want to put the other person on the spot — so make sure you're giving them room to share, too. “Remember, it takes two (or more) people to engage in a dialogue, so be sure to make your partner feel like this is a dialogue by asking them what they want,” Figueroa says. Ideally, you can enter into a back-and-forth and have a bigger conversation about the two of you and your future.
Finally deciding to DTR is a big step — and one that shouldn't be taken lightly. You need to make sure you really want a relationship this person and, if you are, then you should feel comfortable being open about what you want. So try to start a conversation to make sure you're on the same page and, if you're not, then you'll know it's time to move along.