Are You Avoiding Defining Your Relationship

Is it time to have the DTR talk with a partner? The “define the relationship” talk has become a hot issue amid the rise of situationships and casual dating. Modern daters can easily grow quite intimate with another person without actually knowing if things are exclusive, just for fun, or something in the middle. While you may be itching to put a definition on your status, you might also be worried about killing the vibe by being the one to try to get serious too soon. When is the right time to have the DTR talk? Let’s look at it from the perspectives of both heart and mind.

Why You Need to Have the DTR Talk

The simple answer is to avoid resentment and hurt stemming from a lack of clarity. In relationships, you don’t necessarily have a right to expectations until you’ve established clear boundaries. The DTR talk is also a self-protective talk that ensures everyone has their cards on the table. The bottom line is that this conversation ensures that you’re participating in a relationship with all of the information you need to feel appreciated and empowered.

When to Have the DTR Talk

As a therapist, my take on the DTR talk is that sooner is better. It’s already time to ask if you’re wondering if it’s time to ask. A big cause of hesitation is a fear that we won’t like the answer we get. Living in “ambiguity” allows us to enjoy all of the good feelings without the “hard parts” of being committed. We may also fear that bringing up the topic will cause the other person to run. Here are five signs that the DTR talk needs to happen ASAP:

  • You’re 100% ready to stop seeing other people.
  • You don’t feel comfortable being intimate with someone who is potentially being intimate with other people.
  • You feel that the lack of defined relationship status is making you resentful or insecure.
  • You want to be able to make long-term decisions about your career or personal goals with an understanding of the true potential of the relationship.

Related: Are You Suffering From Relationship Burnout?

Have the DTR conversation in the mirror before bringing it to your partner. Decide what you’re willing to accept. Decide what will make you walk away. Are you serious enough about the need for commitment to walk away if they’re not ready to become exclusive? Are you open to keeping your dating approach broad if they prefer to keep treading along in this murky, undefined relationship status?

Ways to Have a Successful DTR Conversation

The DTR talk should never feel accusatory, angry, or ultimatum-ish. While it’s easy for insecurities and fears to rise to the surface, it’s important to remember that you cannot hold the other person to standards that were never clarified. Be specific about what you need to be able to remain engaged in the relationship without mincing words. If it’s sexual exclusivity you want, state that you’re no longer in a place for anything other than monogamous relations. If you’re bothered by the fact that the person you’re seeing is still using dating apps, let them know that you can only continue if both of you delete all apps.