How to Have the DTR (Define the Relationship) Talk

Dating someone should be enjoyable and laid-back. However, there may come a point where you will feel the need to cross the “what are we?” bridge, which can be a little terrifying to some. So if it’s not clear whether or not you’re on the same page, here are some steps you can take into consideration:

1. Know what you want

This is the most important step. Before diving into the talk, think about what exactly you want from the relationship and how you feel about the other person. Do you want to be exclusive? Or do you need more time to think about what you truly want?

2. Get the timing right

A few weeks might be too soon to DTR. According to relationship expert and radio personality Dr. Cooper Lawrence, anything before the first two months of dating is too soon. “It’s the ‘getting to know you’ stage where your only job is to have fun. Even if you already think she or he is the one, it’s still a weird conversation to have if you’ve been dating less than a month,” he says.

3. Pick an appropriate setting

Rather than picking a setting with a noisy environment or a place where you can potentially get drunk, make sure you are on a neutral ground. Also, it is advisable to do it in person, and not over the phone.

4. Be honest about your feelings

“If you want exclusivity, let them know,” says dating coach Harris O’Malley. “Hiding something you want because you’re worried it would chase your partner off—or hoping that you can change their mind about it later when they’re more invested—is just going to result in an epic and even more brutal breakup later on.”

5. Avoid using ultimatums

Backing the other person into a corner is never a winning situation. He or she may not be ready to make a decision just yet, and while this is disappointing, remember that you can’t decide for them.