What Does It Mean If You DTR?

As actor Henry Winkler famously said, "Assumptions are the termites of relationships." This can't be truer for a relationship where two individuals define it differently. When it comes to a relationship that we're emotionally invested in, we're always at a choice point: we either say what we think or we let our imagination run wild. When your significant other reads your message but doesn't reply, or when they always change the subject when you talk about moving the relationship forward, you tend to ask yourself questions like: "Is this just a fling?" or "Am I the only one committing to this relationship?" When assumptions are not cleared, they're bound to cause conflict.

Actually, falling in love tends to cloud our judgment, and assumptions are inevitable. However, if you're certain about the type of relationship you're in and where it's heading, you'll have fewer reasons to worry, overthink, and make assumptions. To avoid feeling ambiguous, you need to define your relationship at some point. While this can be a challenging conversation to hold, here are some tips to help you get started.

When is it time to DTR?

According to sex therapist Constance DelGiudice (via MindBodyGreen), DTR is simply having a conversation where you spell out your needs, expectations, and boundaries. The goal is to know if the person you're seeing is on the same page when it comes to commitment and investment in the relationship. Timing plays a big part in how your DTR conversation goes. In fact, arriage and family therapist Nicole Richardson tells Elite Daily that there is neither a fixed timeframe nor a defined benchmark by which to determine whether the timing is appropriate. It depends on the pace that works for both of you and the type of relationship you agree to work on. Some people just need one date to decide they want to get serious and start talking about expectations. Others may need years.

Meanwhile, dating expert Maria Sullivan suggests clarifying and aligning each other's expectations rather sooner than later because a crystal clear discussion about the future "ensures that both people in the relationship understand what each other wants" (via AskMen). If the other person wants nothing more than the fun and light connection of a casual relationship while you're looking forward to a wedding, this relationship won't work for you.

In a relationship, gut feelings are also worth a piece of your mind. The most optimal time to DTR, per Love Panky, is when you don't feel good or satisfied with what's going on. A relationship can consume your time and energy, and you shouldn't delay any conversation that sets the record straight once and for all. Knowing where your partner stands will help you cut your losses and move on faster.

How do you DTR?

It's not easy to acknowledge your feelings and desires for the relationship without knowing how the person will react. Instead of making this conversation about whether or how much the other person likes you, dating expert and "Dateable" co-host Yue Xu suggests focusing on the compatibility between you two to Cosmopolitan. Keep in mind that the purpose of the conversation is to exchange honest thoughts, not to force the other person to agree with your point of view. This conversation might result in delightful revelations or heartbreak that you're not ready for, but it's necessary.

To stay calm and grounded, clinical psychologist Lindsay Jernigan advises to PopSugar that you should exchange eye contact with your partner while talking. Having the conversation while taking the air also helps to keep your mind clear and focused and makes you less anxious. To keep the dialogue on topic, try to be specific with your intentions. Instead of beating about the bush with "I'd like to get married someday," ask your sweetheart, "What do you think about us being exclusive?" By the end of the talk, you should have a clear understanding of each other's perspectives on the relationship.

The point of DTR-ing is to protect yourself from investing more feelings into a relationship that might not work. Everyone should navigate a relationship at their own pace. If you're ready for the next step and the other person isn't, you should move on instead of waiting for them to be ready.