A DTR talk stands for a “define the relationship” talk. To have healthy relationships between Christians of the opposite sex, a DTR talk can be very helpful.
A conversation like this might be needed in a variety of situations. A DTR talk can be used to help clarify the confusion between two friends who seem to really like each other but their relationship is stalling in the friendship zone. It could also be used when a guy and girl are friends but one likes the other person as more than a friend. Or it can even be used when a Christian boyfriend and girlfriend have been dating for a while and they need to clarify the expectations of when engagement might happen.
While a DTR talk can bring a lot of much needed clarity between a Christian guy and girl, these chats can also go terribly wrong quite easily. So here are three tips regarding Christians and the DTR talk.
When Should Christians Have a DTR Talk?
The most obvious time to have a DTR talk is when one is needed. If you are wondering if you need to define (or redefine) your relationship with someone, you should start by asking yourself questions like, “Are either of us confused about our relationship? Does she know how I feel about her? Do I know how she feels about me? Is our commitment level equal to our connection with one another? Is there any frustration starting to build because we are remaining in the same season and not moving forward as quick as one or both of us desire?”
Another way to determine if you need to have a DTR talk is if your intimacy does not match your commitment level. In the Bible intimacy and commitment are always supposed to be equal. Intimacy without commitment leads to wounds and abandonment. Commitment without intimacy leads to a legalistic and cold relationship.
Additionally, a DTR talk is usually needed during times of transitioning from one relationship season to another. If you want to go from friends to a boyfriend and girlfriend, from a boyfriend and girlfriend to a more serious couple working towards marriage, and then from dating to engagement, you will need to talk through these things to make sure you both are on the same page and want to leave the old titles for some new titles. A DTR talk is also needed when there are problems in the relationship.
If you know more about a girl than most guy friends should know because the two of you talk on the phone every day for hours, it probably means you need to have a DTR talk. Or if you have been dating but it’s starting to feel like you are married, again you need to have DTR talk so the two of you can plan on how to make sure your intimacy and commitment level are equally paired.
There’s no official timetable when it comes to Christian friendship, dating, or engagement. Rather you just want to act in wisdom. Some people might need to be friends for years before the chemistry and season is right to start dating. Other people may meet and instantly want to go on a date. You should define the relationship when you need to.
In other words, something probably went wrong if you decide to have a DTR talk but the other person was surprised when you did this. You should only have a DTR talk when one is obviously needed. If you just like someone and you are not sure if they like you back, I would just ask them out and see what they say. To have a big DTR talk is probably overkill in a situation like that.
How to Have a Successful DTR Talk
I think there are different levels of DTR talks. The key is to not have too serious of a talk or too lighthearted a talk for the relationship at hand. If you just met a guy last week, having a big DTR talk will probably weird him out. But let’s say you’ve been on a few dates but you don’t know where it’s going, it’s probably time to ask the guy what his intentions are.
I think the first DTR talk Christians should have should occur at the beginning of the dating relationship. Once you have clarified if you want to actually be a boyfriend and girlfriend, I think it is also important to define your intentions for this dating season together. I think the most biblical purpose for dating is to find a spouse. Dating just to date usually leads to sin.
While I don’t think you need to know you want to marry that specific person before you start dating him or her, I do believe you should know if you are in a season where you are willing to work towards marriage in general. If you know you are not ready to be married at all, then why date at all? If you have a similar belief as me about the purpose of dating, I believe you should explain these beliefs at the beginning of the dating relationship so the other person knows how you are viewing your season of dating.
You don’t want to tell the person that you want to marry him or her because that is too much information way too soon. Rather, you should tell the person what you feel the purpose of dating in general should be about. When I started my dating relationship with my wife, I told her right from the start I would not play games with her heart. I told her that if either of us knew at some point in the relationship that marriage was not right for us, we should not keep dating once that realization was made. I also told her I was dating towards marriage, not just dating to date. I tried to not freak her out or put too much pressure on her, but I wanted her to know my intentions for our relationship.
I also called her father. I didn’t do this to ask his permission since Bethany was out of the house and supporting herself, but I did this as a sign of respect and as a show of good faith to Bethany that I was serious about getting to know her and her family.
Prepare to Have More Than One DTR Talk, But Don’t Overdo It
To have a successful Christian relationship, you will need to be clear and honest. A DTR talk can really help, especially during those seasons of transitioning from one season to another. Since a Christian relationship goes through a few different seasons, you should expect to have multiple DTR talks.
But you definitely don’t want to overdo this. If you are having DTR talks out of insecurity and a desire to ensure that someone still likes you, this will wear them out and cause more harm than good if you do this too often. Therefore be wise and selective when you decide to have a DTR talk in your Christian relationship.