7 Brutally Honest Phases Of Defining The Relationship, Because TBH, It Can Be Stressful
by Brittney Morgan

Dating someone new usually comes with a lot of excitement — the butterflies, the fun dates, the sex, the intimacy that comes with learning someone new — it's all great. But it's when things get serious that you can find yourself feeling a little stressed out. Once you start thinking about defining the relationship and whether or not you want a future with a new person, you might be worried about how it will go.

But regardless of whether or not you wind up in a serious relationship with this new person or you realize you want different things and go your separate ways, there's pretty much no getting out of the "So, what are we?" conversation in some way, shape, or form. Even if you know you're both on the same page (I've been in relationships where "I love you" came before the official DTR conversation happened, though it did still happen — hey, some couples are just different!), you still have to talk about things.

Defining the relationship can be a quick conversation or a long talk. It can happen pretty soon into dating someone new, or it can take a while. It can end in a new partnership, or it can just end things altogether. But no matter how things turn out the next time you DTR, it's probably going to go a little something like this.

You notice how comfortable you are with them.

You've been dating for a bit, and suddenly it hits you: You're really comfortable with this person. You're excited to spend time with them, you find yourself smiling at your phone every time you get a text from them, and most importantly, you feel like you can really be yourself around them. You realize that things have been pretty solidly good from the beginning, and you're starting to develop real, beyond-just-a-crush feelings for them.

You feel yourself starting to get a little jealous.

Realizing your feelings are deeper than you thought also means that you might be experiencing a little bit of jealousy, even if you're not normally a jealous person. You'll know you're in this phase when you start wondering if your potential new partner is seeing other people, and realize that you don't like not knowing. But, you're not quite ready to ask about it yet, you know?

You realize you don't like the thought of not being with them.

In phase three, you'll go from thinking about your date seeing other people and feeling a little jealous, to thinking about how much it would suck if you weren't with them. That's how you know the feelings have really hit you — you've started thinking about being with them in a more defined way, and now the idea of not being with them anymore bums you out more than you expected.

You start wondering how to talk to them about it.

You've spent some time reflecting on the last three phases, and now you know that you for sure want a relationship with this person — you just don't quite know how to broach the subject. I mean, it's scary! What if they say no? What if they say yes? Having the conversation means you'll be moving in a new direction, either together or apart, and that's a lot to think about.

You finally bring it up and talk things through.

Once you've thought things through and figured out what you want to say, you'll finally bring up your feelings for them, hoping for the best. You might start by telling them how you're feeling or asking them what they're looking for with you, but either way, the two of you will figure things out together. Maybe they're not looking for a commitment, maybe you're both looking for a relationship but you want a different kind of relationship, or maybe you're both totally on the same page. In any case, you've gotten your feelings off your chest.

If they aren't down to DTR, you work on moving on.

OK, so, your crush told you they don't want to take things to the next level, and now you're feeling, well...a little crushed. But, you were brave enough to have the conversation in the first place, so take a minute to appreciate yourself for that. Now, with an even stronger vision of what you want out of your next relationship, it's time to work on moving on and finding someone new, when you're ready.

But if they are, you get to celebrate your new relationship.

If they say yes, well, then congratulations — you've successfully DTRed with your newest crush! Next comes all those fun, honeymoon phase milestones, like posting your first selfie together on Instagram and introducing them to your friends. But the best part, honestly, is just getting to know this awesome person you like even better.

No matter when or how you have the DTR conversation with a new partner, all that really counts is that you're both on the same page with how you want to be together (in any capacity). And whether or not you end up together, you'll learn so much about yourself and what you want in the process — which can only make you a better partner in the future.

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