5 Signs You’re Reluctant To Define The Relationship

The first time I ever heard the term DTR was in high school while watching MTV’s Awkward. In season one, Jenna (played by Ashley Rickards) falls head over heels for a guy and is perpetually stressed out that she does not know where she stands with him, so her best friend, Tamara, urges her to DTR–that’s “Define The Relationship.” She insists that Jenna label it, tell him what she really wants instead of settling for keeping their interactions a secret from their classmates.

Romantic Relationships, friends with benefits, f**k buddies, situationships… Modern dating offers so many possibilities, and there’s a lot of gray areas when establishing whether your person is really your person. Casual dating is totally fine if both parties are on board, but it can only go on for so long before one or both partners begin to feel the pressure to have the dreaded “Where is this going?” talk.

If you’ve been sticking with the same person for a while, but you haven’t established exactly who you are to each other, maybe it’s time to think about why. Here are a few signs that you’re putting off the DTR discussion.


You struggle with labels.

Freaking Out Gif

You’re at a loss as to what you should call the person you’re seeing when you talk about them to other people. “Boyfriend” and “girlfriend” seem like such powerful words… And yet, it somehow seems wrong to simply refer to the person you’re hooking up with twice a week as a friend. You’ve got lots of friends, but you don’t make out with most of them. According to NYC relationship expert and love coach Susan Winter, anxiety around labels is typical for people who are afraid to DTR because the weight of the boyfriend/girlfriend title strongly reinforces the idea of total commitment.


You have trouble making and sticking to plans.

The inability to consistently form and look forward to concrete plans with the person you’re seeing can be a sign that you’re nervous about the defining your relationship. This discomfort can manifest itself in different ways.

Maybe you’re canceling on your dinner date at the last minute because you’ve found plans that are better. Perhaps you’re afraid to get tickets to go to that concert together because it isn’t for another month and you don’t want to worry about the longevity of this relationship. Perhaps you simply don’t make that much time for this person.

While it’s essential to have your own interests, friends, and life, therapist Nicole Richardson suggests that deliberately not seeing the person you’re “seeing” can be a sign that you are afraid to commit.


You’ve never met each other’s friends.

honey boo boo no drama gif

Some people wait to introduce their date to their friends until they think things are actually going somewhere more serious, and that’s perfectly fine. However, if you’ve been dating someone for months but don’t feel ready to introduce this person to your social circle, it’s important to think about why this might be. Is it simply an inconvenience based on everyone’s’ schedules or do you feel like you’re hiding your date from your BFFs?


You’re still hurt from previous experiences

Even if you are totally, 100% over your ex or that person who declined to date you six months ago, it can be difficult to truly let go of all of the emotions associated with a breakup or a painful rejection. You may not be into that person anymore, but perhaps the situation in which you split left you really hurt and you’re afraid that the same thing will happen again. Lingering fear from what happened in old relationships can make you reluctant to DTR.


Your communication isn’t consistent.

Do you talk to the person you’re dating regularly, or can you go days at a time without contact without really caring? If you don’t respond to a message promptly, is it because you are genuinely busy or because you don’t really care what this person thinks of you and put conversing with them low on your list of priorities? Communication is extremely important in all serious relationships, whether they be romantic ones or close friendships, so a lack of communication may indicate that you’re afraid to get attached.


Look, I get it–the “What are we?” conversation can be extremely daunting. I’ve had to initiate a few of them myself, and it takes up a lot of courage to ask, “Do you actually like me or were you spilling your guts when drunk?” or “We’ve been fooling around and going out to dinner for weeks, but are you seeing other people?” Regardless of whether they end in a shiny new romantic relationship, rejection or a transition into a platonic friendship, the nerves leading up to the DTR chat are very real.

robin-how-i-met-your-mother-fire-self-gif

If you’re reluctant to label your relationship, it’s important to establish why. If you actually like this person and you’re just afraid of getting your heart broken, it’s probably worth bringing up your feelings because the sooner you can gauge their reaction, the sooner you can A) start your new official relationship or B) move on with your life. On the other hand, if you’re just not super into the person you’ve been seeing, you should still let them know where you are at.

Once you sort out those feelings and finally get the nerve to have the DTR conversation, you should be super proud of yourself, because that can be confusing territory but you will have handled it very maturely. Best of luck!


The first time I ever heard the term DTR was in high school while watching MTV’s Awkward. In season one, Jenna (played by Ashley Rickards) falls head over heels for a guy and is perpetually stressed out that she does not know where she stands with him, so her best friend, Tamara, urges her to DTR–that’s “Define The Relationship.” She insists that Jenna label it, tell him what she really wants instead of settling for keeping their interactions a secret from their classmates.

Romantic Relationships, friends with benefits, f**k buddies, situationships… Modern dating offers so many possibilities and there’s a lot of gray areas when establishing whether your person is really your person. Casual dating is totally fine if both parties are on board, but it can only go on for so long before one or both partners begin to feel the pressure to have the dreaded “Where is this going?” talk.

If you’ve been sticking with the same person for a while but you haven’t established exactly who you are to each other, maybe it’s time to think about why. Here are a few signs that you’re putting off the DTR discussion.


You struggle with labels.

Freaking Out Gif

You’re at a loss as to what you should call the person you’re seeing when you talk about them to other people. “Boyfriend” and “girlfriend” seem like such powerful words… And yet, it somehow seems wrong to simply refer to the person you’re hooking up with twice a week as a friend. You’ve got lots of friends, but you don’t make out with most of them. According to NYC relationship expert and love coach Susan Winter, anxiety around labels is common for people who are afraid to DTR because the weight of the boyfriend/girlfriend title strongly reinforces the idea of total commitment.


You have trouble making and sticking to plans.

The inability to consistently form and look forward to concrete plans with the person you’re seeing can be a sign that you’re nervous about the defining your relationship. This discomfort can manifest itself in different ways. Maybe you’re canceling on your dinner date at the last minute because you’ve found plans that are better. Maybe you’re afraid to get tickets to go to that concert together because it isn’t for another month and you don’t want to worry about the longevity of this relationship. Perhaps you simply don’t make that much time for this person. While it’s extremely important to have your own interests, friends, and life, therapist Nicole Richardson suggests that deliberately not seeing the person you’re “seeing” can be a sign that you are afraid to commit.


You’ve never met each other’s friends.

honey boo boo no drama gif

Some people wait to introduce their date to their friends until they think things are actually going somewhere more serious, and that’s perfectly fine. However, if you’ve been dating someone for months but don’t feel ready to introduce this person to your social circle, it’s important to think about why this might be. Is it simply an inconvenience based on everyone’s’ schedules or do you feel like you’re hiding your date from your BFFs?


You’re still hurt from previous experiences

Even if you are totally, 100% over your ex or that person who declined to date you six months ago, it can be difficult to truly let go of all of the emotions associated with a breakup or a painful rejection. You may not be into that person anymore, but perhaps the situation in which you split left you really hurt and you’re afraid that the same thing will happen again. Lingering fear from what happened in old relationships can make you reluctant to DTR.


Your communication isn’t consistent.

Do you talk to the person you’re dating regularly, or can you go days at a time without contact without really caring? If you don’t respond to a message in a timely manner, is it because you are genuinely busy or because you don’t really care what this person thinks of you and put conversing with them low on your list of priorities? Communication is extremely important in all serious relationships, whether they be romantic ones or close friendships, so a lack of communication may indicate that you’re afraid to get attached.


Look, I get it–the “What are we?” conversation can be extremely daunting. I’ve had to initiate a few of them myself and it takes up a lot of courage to ask, “Do you actually like me or were you spilling your guts when drunk?” or “We’ve been fooling around and going out to dinner for weeks, but are you seeing other people?” Regardless of whether they end in a shiny new romantic relationship, rejection or a transition into a platonic friendship, the nerves leading up to the DTR chat are very real.

robin-how-i-met-your-mother-fire-self-gif

If you’re reluctant to label your relationship, it’s important to establish why. If you actually like this person and you’re just afraid of getting your heart broken, it’s probably worth bringing up your feelings because the sooner you can gauge their reaction, the sooner you can A) start your new official relationship or B) move on with your life. On the other hand, if you’re just not super into the person you’ve been seeing, you should still let them know where you are at.

Once you sort out those feelings and finally get the nerve to have the DTR conversation, you should be super proud of yourself, because that can be difficult territory but you will have handled it very maturely. Best of luck!


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