‘Defining the Relationship,’ Defined

by Bethany Davenport

This week I received a question concerning the appropriate time in which to define a relationship.

The Urban Dictionary defines DTR (“defining the relationship”) as the act of two people discussing their mutual understanding of a romantic relationship (casual dating, serious boyfriend, etc.). This often awkward conversation can also lead to another definition of DTR — “down to rage.”

We live in a society that labels everything. Regardless of how much you want to deny it, you fit into a classic stereotype. So labeling a basic component of human interaction has to be expected. Yet it is often the defining point that ends most relationships.

Whether you want to define what’s going on as just fun, friends with benefits, talking, or being nonexclusive or exclusive, it is often that label that can be the demise of the beginnings of anything. As soon as a definition is brought into the picture, the connection between the two people falls into a rut. Trying to fulfill that definition can often leave the two parties confused.

Why? Even though people can have the same definition of their relationship, the implied definition of the relationship is often what causes controversy. What could be exclusive for one person can often mean a nonexclusive romp to another.

So, why even define things? We live in a superknowledge society where the answer to virtually any question is at the tip of your fingers, yet when it comes to human interactions, we are often left well in the dark. Communication is more and more through text messages, e-mail and Facebook. Even phone conversations are becoming obsolete.

It is an old rule that actions speak louder than words. Let your actions, not a superficial definition, define your relationship. If it feels right when you are together, let that be how you continue. If both parties feel the same, it will be exclusive. If both parties don’t feel the same way, don’t obsess over the implications of that meaning. Embrace this time of your life and have fun. No, I am not endorsing sleeping with anyone you meet, but do what makes you happy. Live life for yourself, not someone else.

Your intuition should also play a part. If you feel like defining will lead to a bad result, don’t do it. It is best when a talk comes naturally. If a relationship fades before a talk happens, then it wasn’t meant to be. Belaboring the point or pushing for a “qualification” of a relationship is just like beating a dead horse: It does no good.
If a talk is needed, though, do it.

“Because people fear confrontation, they can inadvertently end up making decisions for their partner that they have no business doing,” wrote Natalie Lue in her relationship blog.

Meaning that if you don’t talk then you could be defining what is going on in your head differently than what the other individual is thinking.

A relationship between two people is a connection — not a mutually exclusive boyfriend-girlfriend connection, but simply just that, a connection. And defining it should just be based on the connection, not words. Defining the relationship can be deadly. Google even agrees. When you search defining the relationship, one of the top-related searches is “the infectious etiology of chronic diseases.”

Remember, write your questions to bbdavenport13@transy.edu.


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