When And How To ‘Define The Relationship’

“Everyone opens up at different points in time, and we have to realize we can’t expect somebody to be exactly where we’re at, at the exact moment that we are,” emphasizes DelGiudice. But if you struggle to work outside of time frames, Brigham says to wait at least two to three months before defining the relationship.

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“Define the relationship” usually means deciding to be monogamous with someone, but these days monogamy isn’t the only option. Marriage is optional; polyamory is a thing; and open relationships are slowly moving out of the shadows. In this new understanding of different relationship possibilities, determining the relationship means having a conversation about your expectations for the future — and how your love interest fits into that. Do you want to be monogamous? Do you want an open relationship? Do you want more of an official commitment than you’re currently getting? It’s a complicated situation — and it can be really scary.

“If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re happy in your relationship, and just want it to be clear where your partner wants to go with things, that’s a perfect time to define the relationship,” Figueroa says. “If you feel like you know what you want, and you both seem to be on the same page, that’s also a good time to define the relationship.”

“People are increasingly terrified to have the relationship conversation because vulnerability is scary,” Nicole Richardson, LPC-S, LMFT, tells Bustle. “In the digital age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to be open, sincere and vulnerable. We don’t want to put ourselves out there unless we are sure the other person will reciprocate our feelings.”

Some relationships have a magical moment where you both come to the exact same point at the exact same time. When you look at a person and say, “I only want you,” and they say, “Me too.” It’s obnoxious, but this is one of those times when the cliche of “when you know, you know” is true.

Dating in 2017 is hella ambiguous. Our generation has done a great job of throwing most hard and fast dating rules out the window. These days, it’s pretty much up to you whether you want to wait one month, one week, or one hour to jump into bed with someone. We’re spoiled for choice! But while this approach to dating is undoubtedly freeing, it also makes it hard to figure out when to define the relationship.

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