Having “the talk”, also called the DTR or Define the Relationship talk, is the sometimes-terrifying conversation you have with someone you’re seeing where you discuss your mutual understanding about your romantic relationship. Are you casually dating? Are you in an exclusive relationship? These are the questions you need answers to.
When it comes to having the talk, you’ll have to strike a delicate balance. If you bring it up too soon, you may put an awkward end to something that could have been amazing. If you wait too long, your crush could already be dating other people on the side.
Don’t wait to find out whether you’re wasting your time with someone. Here’s how to have the exclusive relationship talk, without being a total weirdo about it.
Tip 1: Know WHEN to Have the Talk
Relationship advice 101—If the thought of being exclusive with your crush gives you butterflies, then it’s definitely time to have the talk. Here are the most common signs that it’s time to straighten things out:
– You act like a couple. Hanging out several times a week, talking to your friends and family about them. Things just feel couple-y.
– You accidentally call them your boyfriend/girlfriend. It’s definitely a sign that you need to figure out where this thing is going.
– You have met each other’s family/friends. Bump this up higher if you have already blended your friend groups together.
– You act like best friends. They are the first person you want to talk to when you wake up and the last person you want to hear before you go to sleep.
– Plans together are just assumed. If you never have to ask who you’ll be spending your weekends with, it’s time to have the DTR conversation.
Tip 2: Bring it Up Beforehand
Figuring out whether your crush wants to be exclusive doesn’t have to be a mind game. In fact, it can be pretty easy. Just be upfront with them. There is definitely a casual, cute, and charming way to bring it up early.
Once the subject of relationships or past relationships comes up, casually ask: What are you looking for these days? They may answer that they’re just looking to have fun or that they want someone real to spend their time with. Either way, you have your answer.
Not only does bringing up your intentions early give you a chance to get on the same page before you’re to invested in each other, but it also sets you up for a great start at building relationship communication.
Tip 3: Don’t Assume You’re Exclusive
Even if you have been out several times a week for a month now, it’s never wise to assume you know what’s really going on. Even if you’ve been through what you feel is a relationship milestone: kissing, hanging out all day every day, going away together for the weekend, or meeting their parents/sibling/hamster.
While you’re already envisioning your summer plans together, your crush may still be entertaining other prospects on their free nights. When it comes to the topic of are you/aren’t you, it’s always better to get a verbal confirmation.
Tip 4: Do It in Person
If you’ve been dating for a while now and you want to know where your relationship is at, try and set it up so that you’re having the DTR in person.
We’re not saying there aren’t pros to going the texting route when it comes to finding out where your relationship is headed.
For one thing, texting is easy. It puts less pressure on both you and your crush since you can carefully craft a sentence and respond at your leisure. Plus, it’s easier to play it cool if they give you an answer you weren’t expecting.
But texting is informal. It’s also hard to read tone through text, no matter how many smiley-sunglasses-wearing/laughing-crying emojis you throw in there.
If you want the best (but incredibly awkward) relationship advice, it’s this: have this conversation like an adult. Face to face.
Tips 5: Think About What You Want
Do you really want to be with this person or are you just lonely? Are you crazy compatible or do you simply have a deep-seeded urge to win them over? Hey, it happens!
Before you sit down to have the talk together, have a long think on exactly what you want from a relationship.
Of course, there are certain things you can compromise on. The insistence that the love of your life must have blonde hair is certainly nothing you should put your foot down about. But being with someone who shares your faith, love of travel, or has your political beliefs may be a make or break it situation.
Think about what you really want from a relationship and don’t stop until you find it.
Tip 6: Don’t Force It
It’s either going to turn into a relationship or it isn’t. When you really like someone, it can seem all too easy to be who you think your crush wants you to be. You may claim you love certain things just to win their approval.
Don’t get caught up in this trap. Not only is this unfair for you to have to pretend to be something you’re not, but you’re also essentially tricking someone into going steady with you.
In the end, you deserve someone who wants to be with you as much as you want to be with them. Don’t settle for being someone’s booty call or put your heart into someone who only wants to pass the time.
Feeling confused about your romantic situation? Take this relationship advice: find out your DTR sooner rather than later. Doing so could be the difference between scooping up the love of your life or realizing you’ve wasted the last three months. Improve your relationship communication by knowing how to have the talk.
Rachael Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.