The DTR (“Define the Relationship”): that often awkward, nervous-sweat-inducing but necessary conversation that every couple must have (besides perhaps an arranged marriage). How many dates must pass before the talk? What’s the best way to do it? What if they’re not feeling the same way and the DTR causes a premature end to your (or their) live-in-the-now happiness?
When to DTR: This varies from relationship to relationship, so instead of following some arbitrary timeline, do it when it feels right. The DTR should happen when you start feeling ready to take things to the next level. If you’re feeling excited about them and want to see what happens in an exclusive setting, bring it up.
The other situation in which to DTR is if you’re getting the impression that they’re way more into you than you are into them (and/or feel like maybe they’re thinking exclusivity when you’re not). Put yourself in their shoes and treat them well, even if you think their assumptions about your relationship are out of line. Being honest about where you stand and getting everyone on the same page is huge, especially when feelings get involved.
How to DTR: Couching the DTR as a serious talk may be mistaken for the break-up speech, so avoid talking about having the DTR before you actually do. If the person you’re with hears “I want to talk about something with you”, they’ll be on the defensive to protect themselves in case what you have to say isn’t good — no one loves getting dumped. Instead, bring it up the next time you’re both happy and comfortable and in a low-key but positive way: “Hey — I like you. I want to see where this will go. How are you feeling about us?” Then, have a conversation and figure out where you both stand. If you’re in the same place, brilliant. If not, talk about it.
When you want to go from many to one: If you’re currently dating multiple people and would like to be dating just one, hen you mention you’d like to be exclusive with them that one person will pick up on the fact that they were not (up until the DTR) the sole member of your happy-time club. If they subscribe to the popular belief that until the DTR, everything is fair game, they’ll be fine with this. If they don’t, listen and talk it through. Hopefully they’ll see your side.
A successful DTR requires both grace and tact, and an understanding of the position of the person you’re DTRing. Honesty, respect and communication are golden. No one likes to feel like they’ve been played, or to be in a position where they’re getting hurt or are hurting someone else. Don’t fall prey to wussiness or a douchebaggery: talk about where you stand when you get to the point of moving forward or out.
Yours in happy DTRing, S