Knowing when to define the relationship is harder than ever. With more and more people meeting on apps, it’s difficult to know if the other person is still swiping, chatting, or even seeing other people. Sure, sometimes it’s really clear— you’re spending all of your time together and the way you speak is definitely romantic— but it’s completely normal to want to know for sure.
And part of the problem is that people think the relationship is ‘defined’ in different ways. For example, one survey found that 35 percent of men think that a relationship is official when you’re chatting nearly every day, but 52 percent of women wanted to talk it out and have a conversation making things ‘official’. If one of you thinks that these things happen organically, but the other is waiting for a conversation to happen, it can build a lot of tension. And the beginning of a relationship is naturally an insecure time anyway, so it just adds to the confusion. “Relationships are awkward in the beginning because trust has yet to be established,” Darren Pierre, educator, speaker and author of The Invitation to Love: Recognizing the Gift Despite Pain, Fear, and Resistance, tells Bustle. “When we trust another, we reduce fear, when we reduce fear, we alleviate the anxiety of being rejected.”
So how do you define the relationship and establish trust? Well, you need to talk about it. Here’s what you need to know:
Make Sure You’re Ready
Are you in the right place to be in a realtionship? Is that what you want? Make sure that before you define the relationship that you’re actually ready for the commitment to this person— and not just getting swept away in the sparks of a new romance.
Read The Signs
There are a lot of different ways to tell what track you’re on. How much are you seeing of the other person? What kinds of things do you do together? Are you openly making plans for the future— even if it’s only the near future? You need to be honest about where things are with the other person right now. It’s not fair on them to force defining the relationship really early… and if you do, it may come back to bite of you. But at the same time, you deserve reassurance if you need it. So you have to walk a thin line of make sure your feelings are taken care of and being at a place where it’s realistic to DTR.
Have An Open Conversation
Look, if you want to know where you stand then you just need to talk about it. Rather than reading into a million clues and getting worked up, just put it on the table. Saying something like, “I just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page, I wondered where you think we stand now and where you think we’re going,” can work wonders. As long as it’s clear and direct, without being aggressive, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t be willing to have the conversation. Now, you might not like what they have to say— and you can totally walk away if you don’t— but a respectful person will be willing to talk it out with you.
Defining the relationship is effing awkward— but it saves you from so much unnecessary worry and angst. If you read the signs and feel you’re both ready, don’t be afraid to have the conversation.