Defining the Relationship: Myths, Tips & Advice

Defining the Relationship: Myths, Tips & Advice / DTR
When it comes to relationships, whether it be friendship or romance, I am very much to the point. If I like you, you’ll know. I’m not above saying “You’re amazing! Are we friends now? We’re friends now. I love how we just clicked so well” or “Look, I like you, but I don’t want to be in a relationship with you.” In fact, a few dates in with my current boyfriend (then, not boyfriend) I decided I seriously liked him. But, we were both heading back to college in a few weeks and this meant I had to define the relationship *dunn dun dunnnn* or risk potentially being on the wrong page and not trying something I know might work.

So, we were in his basement, and I said, “Look. I actually really like you. I don’t know where you stand, but I’d really like to see where this goes. Would you want to be exclusive or something?” and, whaddayaknow! He said he felt the same, he would love that and he was really glad I’d brought it up because he was too nervous to do so. Then, a few months later he defined the relationship by officially asking me to be his girlfriend. He did this in a semi-grand gesture, whereas that same night I was planning to bring it up and have another DTR talk. Perfect timing on his part.

Anyway, defining the relationships can give you plenty of clarity and help you have a bit more certainty. Personally, I cannot stand not knowing where I stand with someone else. Here are some myths, tips and advice for defining the relationship!

There are plenty of reasons to “define the relationship” that extend beyond wanting to know how to introduce the person when they meet your friends. It’s helpful to know where you stand with someone, especially if you have a feeling you’re both not on the same page. It can also help you from getting your feelings hurt down the line…it can also stop you from hurting someone else’s feelings. For example, if you see an official relationship with someone and they don’t feel the same, it’s nice to know sooner rather than later.

Open communication is often said to be the key to healthy relationships with others, so start your relationship or not-quite-relationship with it!


Myth: Defining the relationship means labeling it.

While this is often the case, it’s certainly not always. Sometimes defining the relationship is discussing expectations and small details. For example, are you guys going to be exclusive or is it okay to see other people, too? Do you see this relationship having actual future potential or is this just a fling? Are you open to seeing where this goes or do you just want what we currently have?

While labels can be good, knowing the details of labels is a lot more important.

Myth: Wanting to “DTR” will scare the person away.

Generally, it’s not scary unless you bring it up in a scary way. Something like “Hey, so we’ve been sort of dating for a few months now and I guess I’m just wondering where you see this going or if you want to see this go somewhere.” If you dive in with a, “So, we’ve been dating for a few months and I want to know if you could see yourself marrying me!” that might be a little too direct (but, hey, you do you). If you’re worried about “scaring someone off” but need clarity, casually work your way into it.

And, if the person you’re asking is scared of someone wanting to know exactly where he or she stands? Not worth it. There’s nothing scary about wanting to know what you’re getting yourself into and what something has the potential to or to not be. You have the right to know it.

Myth: You should wait for the other person to do it.

Life isn’t always linear and neither are relationships. I hate the mindset of “waiting for the other person” because, at the end of the day, you’re the one suffering by waiting. When you wait for someone else to call, you could just call. When you’re waiting for someone to make a move, you could be making that move. If you’re in a pseudo-relationship situation and want to know if you guys are exclusive or if you guys could try being official, bring it up! Oftentimes there’s no magical moment where all of the pieces click into place and the relationship is defined.

Myth: Defining the relationship means making whatever it is an actual, official relationship.

Definitely not true. DTRing can even be defining the relationship and being just a hookup or a fling. Be honest about what you expect and what you want and allow the other person to do the same. If you do not want a relationship, defining it is your moment to share your peace. Remember, defining a relationship isn’t always labeling it or making it official, it’s mostly an open talk about what you both want or honestly feel.

Tips & Tricks

1. Ask the Important Questions.

Instead of asking “Are we boyfriend and girlfriend?” or “Can we be Facebook official?” try asking questions like “Are we exclusive?” or “Do you want to see other people?” Sometimes different people define labels differently, so going into the nitty-gritty of these labels can often be more eye-opening and useful. Think about certain things you won’t compromise on or are curious to know and use your defining the relationship moment to ask them.

Discuss your expectations! That’s the major key.

2. DTR in Person.

As tempting as it is to hide behind a text, oftentimes your emotions can’t be construed properly. It can also be more difficult to have a serious conversation via text.

3. Don’t do it in a moment of anger or sadness.

Huge, huge no-no! Having any serious talk in a moment of rage or in a fit of tears generally isn’t great. Wait until you have a normal moment and bring it up. Defining the relationship shouldn’t be about creating an ultimatum or trying to argue.

If your ideas of what you two are aren’t lined up at all, it can be emotional. There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t go into it full of annoyance and sadness or ready to pick a fight.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away

So sometimes defining the relationship reveals something you didn’t want to hear. Maybe exclusivity is non-negotiable to you but he or she wants an open relationship. Remember to stay true to what you want and need.

Defining your relationship will not ruin it, but rather it will help you both openly and honestly understand where you are and where you’re going.


Don’t be afraid! It’s fine to take your time and not need to define things right away, but when you get to a moment of wondering where the other person stands and what you both want, don’t be afraid to speak up and spark some open communication. You got this!

More Relationship Advice:

The Guide to Strong & Healthy Relationships in College

20 Signs He Likes You as More Than a Friend

Does He Like Me? 7 Signs He’s Not Interested

Do you have any experiences defining the relationship? Paige DiFiore Post Signature - Eyeliner Wings & Pretty Things

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  • This is such a great post! I’m like you and I’m pretty direct when it comes to relationships and I totally feel the same way about what the DTR talk is and what it isn’t. I’ll tell you if I like you and I don’t take it personally when someone doesn’t feel the same way about me. I’ve found that that’s the thing that prevents a lot of people from being direct about that DTR conversation, though – being afraid that the other person may not feel the same way. But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that just like you’re not attracted to everyone, everyone won’t be attracted to you too and the further you delay that hard talk, the longer you’ll be living in that uncertainty.

    • Thanks, Deborah! and yes, yes ,yes! You’re absolutely right. I always play the uncertainty card…I hate uncertainty and the sooner I can make the uncertain into certain the better! Glad you have similar ideas 🙂

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