It's a dreaded moment for some, and eagerly awaited by others: the DTR, or Define The Relationship talk.
Are we dating? Are we keeping things casual? What are each of us looking for out of this relationship?
But honestly, the DTR is something you absolutely need to make time for – and here are 5 reasons why.
You deserve to be treated the way you want to be treated.
Relationships come and go. I'll tell you, every time I found a guy I liked, I thought I had found the one. But in reality, I was settling for jerks and assholes, and compromising on my needs, because I didn't believe I'd find someone who was perfect for me.
Then I did find that person, and I couldn't believe all the time I had wasted: being the friend with benefits when I wanted something more; hanging around guys who only wanted to be with me for the sex, or the ego boost, or whatever; lying to myself that I didn't need a guy who was as smart as me, or as ambitious as me, or who made me feel like the only girl in the world.
Listen. You deserve to be treated exactly the way you want to be treated. Don't ever compromise on your standards, your values, or what you want in a relationship. It doesn't matter how much you like the person – you deserve to be loved the way you want to be loved. It may mean spending some time alone in the meantime, or having the courage to end things that aren't right for you – but in time, you'll find the love you were meant to have. Trust me. It's worth it.
Sure, you love them, but love doesn't cover fundamental incompatibilities.
Being in love with someone can be a powerful excuse for all kinds of behaviors. Some of them are harmful, like in the case of the woman who excuses her abusive partner on the grounds of love. Some are less so; I stayed with a guy for two years even though we were so fundamentally different that I knew, deep down, we could never work in the long term, but, well, I loved him. Again, I kept lying to myself, telling myself that love conquers all differences.
Sadly, it's not true. I'm definitely a romantic, and I know there's that intangible, crazy part of love that just doesn't make sense no matter how you slice it – but there's a practical side, too. You can't let yourself be so tangled up in your feelings that you forget about that side of things.
When two people are fundamentally incompatible (you want to get married and have three kids, and she doesn't; you want a Catholic household, and he's an uncompromising atheist; she insists on making self-destructive decisions over and over, and you're fed up), then that's it. End of story. There's no way around it. It's a very sad thing sometimes, and I truly hope you never find yourself in this situation. But if you do, I hope you find the strength to make the right decision.
Expectations are hugely important in relationships.
In a healthy, happy relationship, the people involved are on the same page about what to expect. That can be in terms of how the relationship is defined, whether there's the possibility of a longterm commitment, how often they'll hang out, what they'll tell their friends... anything, really. The bottom line is that everyone needs to know what's going on.
Be explicit about your expectations, and ask about your partner's. That's the best way to avoid future miscommunication and hurt.
To see how they handle communication – especially on big issues.
Worried that the DTR is going to scare off your honey? Then you should be worried about much bigger things. If someone can't even handle the "What are we?" conversation, then how will they ever be able to maturely resolve the many issues that arise over the course of a relationship?
You need to be able to communicate effectively in relationships, and that starts with the DTR. It's your first chance to see how your partner communicates, and if their style meshes with yours. Take advantage of it, because it can be a good indicator of how the relationship will go from there.
And finally, so you don't waste your time – because your time is precious.
Like I said above, you deserve the love you desire. Be strong; hold out for the relationship that lifts you up, inspires you to be a better person, makes you feel loved and beautiful and empowered. This life is short, and that means you can't be wasting your time on unfulfilling relationships with immature, lackluster partners. You deserve the very best. So don't settle for less.
I hope you're feeling inspired to get out there and have the Define the Relationship conversation, even though these waters can be a bit scary to navigate. Best of luck to you, lovebugs!
If you're interested in a card on how to handle this conversation (how to bring it up, make it less awkward, ensure the best conditions for talking) then let me know in the comments! I'd be happy to write it :)