Defining The Relationship

Comments from Craig below...

January 9, 2003

The DTR (Defining The Relationship) Conversation

I was originally introduced to the term DTR by a co-worker who was struggling to determine the exact state of his relationship with a new girl. From there, I've realized that the DTR exists on many levels: are we dating?, are we boyfriend(s)/girlfriend(s)?, will you marry me?, I don't want to see you anymore, do I know you?...etc. and it's the intricate placement of this conversation that can make or break relationships.

The DTR really serves as a "state of the union address" of sorts for couples and given the timing, they're normally really good or really bad. Case in point, two of my past relationships: Bob* a guy I briefly dated and Jeff* my ex-husband. Bob and I both knew exactly what the other person was going to say when the DTR began. Our DTR took approximately 2 minutes and we both agreed that our relationship should not continue- we would be better as friends. Shook hands, good night, case closed. My DTR with Jeff was slightly more complicated as we were bound by the legal contract you all know as a marriage. It began unexpectedly (for me), in a mall (of all places, a fucking mall?) and spiraled downhill from there. That DTR was three months of absolutely hell.

Some people choose to have it early on in the relationship. In one horrible instance, my friend Jon was called out of the blue at work by a girl he had dated for approximately one month. She asked to meet him at his building and of course he obliged, only to find her standing in the doorway with a rose and a card, ala TV's "The Bachelor". Puzzled, he accepted the rose and read the card's inscription: "Boyfriend?" it read. "Boyfriend question mark!?" he proclaimed aloud, in a tone that defined the relationship that very instant. Over, period.

On the other extreme, some people choose not to have the conversation at all and somewhat blissfully exist in that happy nether world where they act like boyfriend and girlfriend, however, do not speak of those terms in regards to each other. Ridiculous? Perhaps. Better than the rose idea? You're darn right.

Why is the DTR such a big deal? Because people are scared out of their monkey shit to do it unless they know (or think they know) the feeling is absolutely mutual. When mutuality is not completely certain...well, that's usually how people end up being the wicked/weird ex. The jilted person never saw it coming.

Do you put off the DTR just to prolong your relationship and save your heart and ego the pain of the bad DTR? Do you put off the DTR, however badly you want to have it, because you fear the unknown, even if the outcome might be what you want? I guess it depends on your perception of the relationship and your own personal courage level. This is usually affected by your last DTR.

At the very least, remember this: if the DTR is questionable, never, I repeat, NEVER use a gimmick to initiate the DTR. "Boyfriend question mark?!" Ha!

- Laurie K.

*names changed

January 14, 2003

From experience, I say you only define the relationship when you're no longer comfortable if the person you're seeing might be seeing someone else. If you have no feelings regarding that matter then who needs labels.

- Craig

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