The infamous DTR, is the conversation most men and some women avoid with a ten foot pool. Within our current society this conversation is unavoidable due to the current state of dating.
I never really sat and thought about this question until it was mentioned within a conversation with who I will refer to as “the blue eyed boy”. Mr. Blue eyes simply stated that after a while he was about to approach the question “what were we doing?”(If you do not know the outcome of this please read “Bad at Love” posted previously its alluded to in the second story). I stumbled on a generic answer that it was naturally progressing in its own direction, and I sounded like a true tool at the moment and also after when reflecting on my answer.
To be honest, I did not know the answer to the question. We were sorta friends but were we aiming towards more? All of our conversations were mostly platonic enough with an edge of flirtation. Well to be fair a little more than an edge of flirtation.
I openly flirted and did have genuine interest but all we had was two hangouts and constant messages. Does that define a relationship label?
When you look at what dating has become within the modern society for millennials, you start to understand why the question arises so often, and how someone could easily ask the question what are we were after a few hangouts and constant communication.
Dating is a shit show. Before when analyzing dating methods in the past we went from courtships and young marriages, to less formal settings where one dated and married their high school sweetheart or typically their first love. Through a few more decades and so many other steps we some how get to our modern mess of dating without clear definition if you are just “hanging out” or are you something more. Leading to the infamous DTR conversation.
Today’s dating arena contains the following (but not limited to) relations : Netflix and chill style dating, Christian courtships, friends with benefits, sex without the friendship, poly amorous relationships, open relationships, strictly only friends, hanging out, and the classic relationship.
To put it lightly dating is confusing. You never really know where you stand and there is the constant question that plagues us naturally: Do they want more out of this?
Although I gave the worst douche bag answer to the “blue eyed boy” (which some day I will apologize for), he still made me realize how unclear it could be.
With traditional dating out the window within our society, it is time for those who want something real to stop waiting to ask the question “what are we?” and to start controlling the situation from the start. We need to start dating intentionally.
Dating intentionally is a well known concept within the Christian community. That is dating someone where both of your intentions are marriage or long term commitment.
At some point although I highly agree with dating intentionally and dating someone with similar intentions, lets take this concept a step further.
It is time to start building friendships intentionally. With intentional dating someone there is already an established label, and there is already the stigma that the two of you are in fact together in some form of a relationship.
So what is building friendships intentionally?
One thing I rarely do is label every person as my friend. I have a plethora of coworkers, acquaintances, and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ but very few friends within my inner circle. Personally, friendship is an extension of my family. Many of my friends become intertwined with my life that they become an essential part of my family. There is a study that shows that people that you keep within your inner circle develop who you are and shapes key parts of your personality. My goal within my inner circle is to constantly keep people around that not only are genuinely amazing individuals, but people that I would love to emulate in some form or a key quality they possess that I lack. Every person within my inner circle contains many characteristics that I wish to possess or help me grow and achieve goals.
Intentional friendships is not limited to people who are just potential romantic partners. The reality is you should be intentional with every friendship that you manifest and contribute to. You should intentionally build friendships in hopes that one of the friendships could manifest into something more romantic and into intentional dating.
Building an intentional friendship is truly getting to know another person past social communication. There are four types of communication Social (superficial-weather conversation, mental (ideas and non-controversial beliefs), emotional (fears and tear jerkers, hopes, and more controversial beliefs), and spiritual. Intentional friendship building gives you two months to really start to learn about the person. In reality it typically takes a life time to truly know another person, but taking two months without being overly romantic or any physical touch or completely alone time is key. You really start to see if you would be friends with this person let alone date them. It allows for the infatuation period to be less about getting to know the person and more about a connection the moves past superficial communication. You move past the first stage of communication to the next and start to build the trust of the other person. At the end of two months the two of you can decide if you want to DTR, date intentionally, or just be friends. Within this stage no one gets deeply attached on an emotional level and it helps to really understand compatibility. You either find someone that you want to date or you find another friend along the way.
Which leads into dating intentionally. Dating intentionally has two aspects. The first aspect is knowing self which I discussed in my post “When to settle down” in depth, but it simplifies to knowing your own self worth, what you deserve, and not settling for anything less. Along with knowing oneself you must truly be ready to enter the third stage of communication which is emotional communication. You must be able to break down your walls and let someone else into your life. The chasm between the first two levels of communication and the third is rather wide because the third level is the level of trust, intimacy, vulnerability, and transparency. Most of us are afraid to be wrong and absolutely terrified to be rejected and communicating at the emotional level opens us up to be rejected, hurt, and scarred. Most of us yearn for this emotional connection and communication with people, but for individuals, like myself, we constantly push against it settling for mundane conversations about abstract ideas and superficial topics. Truly dating with intention means communicating about our fears, dreams, faith, motivation, wants, needs, and joys.
Naturally all of this leads into the last type of communication, spiritual communication, and hopefully a relationship that withstands time.
Building friendships and dating intentionally avoids the awkward stages and conversations that we all dread. It also leads to less confusion on wants and needs as well as hurting another person or feeling hurt yourself.
This is easier said than done. I preach intentionally dating to teens until I am blue in the face but application is not always as easy.
You must truly be ready to settle down and make your intentions clear. When you are not clear about wanting to build a friendship and staying the course of intentional dating, infatuation can easily take over and true intentions get lost in translation. When you cannot adequately express yourself and your intentions, it is easy to never truly enter an intentional friendship or begin to intentionally date.
Lesson well learned from Mr. Blue Eyes , who once gave me uncontrollable butterflies. Acknowledge the need to build an intentional friendship with someone before diving into intentional (or just regular) dating. When you do not slow down and build the solid friendship, infatuation can easily fade leaving two people who truly do not know one another. If you are similar to myself be open about your walls that are hard to overcome and remember building a stable foundation is key to constructing any structure that is worth while. Move to emotional communication and past that with someone only when you are truly ready but be open about not feeling ready. Stop trying to impress and express. Express your true self and open up to all the possibilities.