“What are we?” “Where do you see this relationship going?” “Do you want to be exclusive?” At some point in most romantic relationships that make it past the first few dates, these kinds of questions will come up. Having this conversation—the “defining the relationship” conversation—is important because it helps both parties determine how much time, energy, and emotion they want to continue to invest in their connection.
As anyone who has gone through it can attest though, it can be an awkward and nerve-wracking conversation to have. To help guide your efforts and get you through this necessary relationship milestone, we’ve put together some tips below!
Check in with yourself first.
You can’t really have a productive conversation about your current relationship until you know where you’re at and where you want to go with it. Before you broach the topic, think about how the other person makes you feel and what you want out of your relationship with them.
Are you looking and ready for commitment? Do you want to keep things casual for a while longer? These are answers you need to have before you ask for them from someone else.
Consider your practical needs too, not just your feelings.
No matter how you might feel about the person you’re seeing, there are a few non-negotiable factors you must align on if your relationship is going to work in the long-term. If you don’t want to have children, for example, and your partner does or is currently raising young children they already have, then you may not be able to meet each other’s needs.
Religious views, world/political views, where you want to live, your ideal lifestyle, and similar long-term goals are other practicalities to consider before and during your relationship-defining conversation.
Bring it up the right way.
When you discuss defining your relationship with someone, you want the conversation to feel natural and comfortable. That is the only way you will both be able to speak openly and honestly about how you’re feeling and what you want. Give yourselves enough time, space, and privacy to let the conversation unfold naturally.
With this in mind, you should make this a proactive conversation, not something that is brought up in response to a conflict. Avoid sayings like “we need to talk” or other confrontational openers. You don’t want the other person to feel ambushed or on trial. Ask open-ended questions to help it feel like a dialogue and encourage them to voice their thoughts, emotions, and opinions. You don’t want the conversation to be just one person giving a lecture or ultimatum.
Be open and clear about what you want.
The foundation of any successful relationship is honesty, so it’s important that you don’t hold back when having your “define the relationship” talk. If you want it to be fruitful, you must be specific and direct about what you want and need out of a relationship and, more importantly, your relationship with the person you’re having the conversation with. Ask them to do the same with you.
In order to make the right decisions about moving forward, you need to have all the necessary information. If you’re on the same page, then you know your relationship is worth pursuing. If you differ on too many important points, then you know putting in any more effort is likely a waste of time.
One way to make the “defining the relationship” conversation easier is to narrow your pool of potential partners down to people who are at a similar place in their lives and have similar long-term goals as you. At My Safe Dating, we make that simple with our online dating platform designed specifically for singles in Vancouver who are aged 40 or older. Create a profile that outlines exactly what you’re looking for in your dating experience, then sort through potential matches and find those who align with your needs, preferences, and goals.
Register for your membership online to start your search today!