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An Updated Guide to Defining the Relationship

These days, whether you’ve met on a dating app or in person, the line between casual and serious is blurrier than ever. Maybe you’ve met their friends, or even family. In this day and age, all that means nothing.

There are so many different levels of dating that you should never make an assumption. Whatever the timeline, it’s important to get on the same page. For some people, it might be a month, for others it’s six. Whatever you do, before you start lobbing labels, define the relationship. Here are the best tips to follow on how. 

Get Consent
Of course, this applies to physical romance, but it does for definitions, too. Before you start calling them your girlfriend, make sure they’re thinking of you in the same terms. Things will get awkward real quick if they hear that label without a conversation first. The best way to do this one? Just ask. It can be a quick sitdown conversation. That’s it.

Respect Their Values
Polyamory and non-monogamy are not new concepts, but they’ve recently spiked in popularity. If you’re with someone poly or non-monog, it’s a good idea to discuss how that will play into your relationship.

If you don’t want your partner to be seeing other people, that’s something you need to figure out from the get-go. 

Define Your Timeline
The millennial generation has redefined how dating and marriage. Before, everyone would get married, have two and a half kids, buy a home, and retire on a strict timeline. That’s no longer a steadfast reality.

When you’ve been dating for a few months, it’s not necessarily the right time to have those conversations anymore, although it could be. Decide what you want and when you want it and see if you can come to a compromise with your partner. If so, great. If not, you may decide whether the relationship works for you.

Talk About It
Get your feelings out there. It doesn’t matter the medium, whether that’s text, Facebook message, or in person. You need to have a conversation about your feelings. Even in casual contexts, it’s important.

Be Honest
Leading a conversation with what you want is really important. It’s absolutely necessary to hear what your partner thinks and feels as well, but there are too many people in situationships who would rather be in relationships. If you want to be exclusive, say that. If you want to see other people but still see each other, say that. If you are falling in love and really think this could be a solid, long-lasting thing, say that! Your feelings matter in this conversation. 

Respect Their Wishes
This one’s simple: if they don’t want the same things you want, respect their honesty and decide where to go from there. 

So you’re on the same page? Great! Celebrate this union however you want—by going out to dinner, staying in, posting a cute Instagram picture together. Whatever it is, let yourself be happy. 

Defining the relationship can be a natural transition, for some couples. For others, it can be messy, confusing, and ultimately disappointing, but that’s part of it. If you need to have the “what are we” conversation, then you need to. Listen to your gut and have the conversation.

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