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5 signs it’s definitely time to DTR, according to experts


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Raise your hand if this is you (or has been you at some point): You swiped right, went on a bunch of dates, and then entered that nebulous “So what are we now?” zone. It’s at this time in a “relationship” when guilt might begin to creep in if you think about going on other dates—and even if you’re just casually swiping. And while you may know what you want from the person you’re seeing, do they feel similarly? It’s sticky and touchy and the last thing you want is to spoil it all by having The Talk too soon.

I spoke with experts to find out five signs to look out for before discussing getting serious.

Keep reading to see if it’s time for you and your almost-boo to DTR (define the relationship).

When is it time to define a relationship?
Photo: Stocksy/Kate Daigneault

1. You’re spending *all* your time together

You might not have a toothbrush at their place yet, but you go on dates regularly and your lives are increasingly entangled. “If you’re spending most of your time together, it’s a huge sign. People are automatically assuming that you two are a couple,” says Bela Gandhi, founder and president of the Chicago-based relationship coaching company Smart Dating Academy.

And if you’ve started introducing this person to your friends and vice versa, it’s time.

2. You’d be upset if they were seeing other people

You only want to be with them, and you really hope the feeling is mutual. You’d be sad if you found out the person was actively messaging people on a dating app and would be devastated if they were actually going on dates. “If your feelings are intensifying, you don’t want to be with someone else, and it would bother you if the other person was dating other people, then you know it’s time to define the relationship,” says Gandhi.

How to know when it's time to define a relationship
Photo by (Tanja Heffner) on Unsplash

3. You turn to them for emotional support and #basic life stuff

It’s a sign things are getting more serious when you have the desire to celebrate or commiserate with that person,  Gandhi says. When you want to share your excitement about the half-marathon you just ran with only that person, or when you need to vent about a bad day and instantly think of them, pay attention to those signals. When you trust someone enough to go to them for emotional support, and especially if they’re turning to you, too, your relationship is on the map.

4. The lack of definition stresses you out

The beginning of a relationship should be exciting and fun—it’s called the honeymoon period for a reason. And if you’re not enjoying it because you need boundaries and to know where you both stand, pay attention to your gut. “If the uncertainty about the relationship results in distress and anxiety that is outweighing the joy, intimacy, and connection you’re feeling in the relationship, it’s time to define it,” says New York City-based therapist Megan Bruneau.

5. You think you’re on the same page…but want to be sure

If you are 99.9 percent sure that the relationship is getting more serious and that you both want to be exclusive—but you haven’t actually talked about it, Gandhi says to have The Talk ASAP. “Not knowing is far worse than not knowing the truth,” she says.

And this would also be a good time to make sure you actually define things the same way. Is being exclusive the same as being in a relationship? Be deliberate with your words, wants, and expectations. According to Amy Andersen, founder of the Silicon Valley-based matchmaking company Linx Dating, exclusive means you’re off the market. “You are no longer interested in dating others and suspend every other opportunity to date around you,” she explains, “You are 100 percent focused on that individual.”

If you like to take your cues from the stars, here’s a Lunar guide to dating and relationships. (Welcome!) And if the whole DTR thing triggers your social anxiety, here’s how to overcome it. 

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