I believe dating is meant to be fun, it’s meant to be enjoyed. But there is so much confusion around the ‘official couple’ status. Many people struggle to know at which point they move from just getting to know each other to actual girlfriend and boyfriend. There is one simple way to know though, one way to avoid the confusion: talk about it, and increase the enjoyment of getting to know each other.
The inspiration behind this post comes from a meal out with a friend. We were having a catch up and filling each other in on the usual stuff and exciting news. Then dating came up, as it does. We chatted a bit, and he said there are two things he would really like to know. Firstly ‘When you pray about liking someone, how do you know if God says yes?’ (Read my post which explores this question here).
Then he asked, ‘I would really like to know how to date’. Big topic I thought, but he went on to say ‘I mean, when do you start actually dating? When do you stop just getting to know each other and become a couple?’
The rest of this post could take many different turns and say many different things. You have probably heard many replies to this questions depending on experience, church tradition, personal views, etc. That’s assuming we all agree on the definition of dating of course!
The answer to my friend’s question isn’t in some fancy formula
You may have heard that dating starts while you are still getting to know each other. Or heard that you need to go on a magic number (let’s say three) dates before you’re a couple. Or that you need to wait for a sign from God, or for the spark to appear.
I have heard it all, and you may have too.
But the answer to my friend’s question isn’t in some fancy formula, or in some miraculous sign or allocated time period. Some people move slower than others, some people need less time. Some believe you need to be friends first (Read my post ‘The “Only Dating Friends” Rule Is Complicated’). We’re all different, but none of us are mind readers. So the answer is, you just need to talk about it.
Some of you reading this may be thinking that this sort of chat is awkward. It’s not great banter whilst trying to impress. Talking about what your relationship is or isn’t can take the fun out of it. But I disagree, I think this can ultimately make it more fun, and more importantly, it doesn’t need to be a long chat, or an awkward one.
It’s honestly that simple… a two minute conversation can take away days and weeks of confusion.
The DTR Chat
Firstly, the chat doesn’t need to be long, just say what you think your relationship is. Say what your definition of dating is, and/or what you think getting to know someone is. Don’t assume you both think the same thing. Be honest about where you’re at. It can be one sentence.
Secondly, listen to what they say. And you will then know where you are at.
It is honestly that simple. The first time it may feel like a big deal, but a two minute conversation can take away days and weeks of confusion. It allows you to know what you both think, get onto the same wave length with the same expectations. This can free you up so that you can then just enjoy getting to know each other and see if you are suited.
Focus on enjoying and getting to know each other.
Some people call this a DTR chat, Determining The Relationship. I think the sooner the better. You aren’t then trying to read each others subtle signs, getting carried away before the other person is ready, or feeling guilty about not realising you are suited.
Be honest, chat about it for a bit every time you meet up for two minutes or so, then focus on enjoying and getting to know each other.
Unfortunately you may decide you are not suited. One person may decide it won’t work and the other person is disappointed, and that’s hard. But by talking you can take away the confusion and try to reduce the damage of mismanaged expectations.
My friend said to me, (which meant a lot): ‘I love the way you talk about relationships. You say they’re meant to be fun and you take off the pressure while showing me how to not mess people around. You have brought me lots of comfort.’
That’s what I want. That’s what I want for you and the people I work with. So be honest and chat about where you are at. It means you don’t need to worry about following a formula or other people and the way they date. Or worry about what the other person is thinking.
Say what you mean, a quick chat can save weeks of confusion. You’ll be on the same page and heading in the same direction, and you can focus on the fun bits and getting to know each other.
Have you ever had a DTR, how did you make it less awkward?