Relationships don’t come with instructions or timelines. If you are questioning when to define the relationship, the answer is, it is up to you.

When you’re dating someone, there comes the point when you start wondering when to define the relationship. If it is something more than a one-night stand, then it is necessary to figure out where everyone stands so that you aren’t stepping on toes. If you don’t ever define what a relationship is, it is difficult to know where you are going, or if you are going anywhere at all.

20 things to help you know when to define the relationship

Knowing when you have to define a relationship, however, is easier said than done. Do you have to define it if it becomes more than just a one-night stand, or if you have been going out for years?

If you want to know when to define the relationship, the only good answer is when you start to question things in your life that can only be answered by the definition of what someone is to you.

For instance…

#1 You’ve had talks about the future, but they are vague. There is nothing worse than always feeling on shaky ground. If you are always trying to gauge your responses and your plans for the future based on nothing but vague assumptions, that makes for a very stressful life.

If you are tired of not having the “talk” to figure out where things are and where they are going, and it is driving you nuts, it is time to sit them down and have a plan for your own sanity. [Read: Dating vs. relationship – 14 signs to know your status]

#2 You wonder if you can hook up with someone else, or don’t even want to. Whether you want to hook up with someone or you don’t, knowing what the rules are before you get yourself into trouble is imperative.

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Or worse yet, you don’t want to waste your time to find that your “significant other” hasn’t been as faithful as you. Defining how monogamous you are supposed to be is important when you care about someone.

#3 You wonder if they will ever call you before 2:00 a.m. and drunk. There is nothing worse than wondering if you are ever going to be someone they want to see before 2:00 a.m. drunk.

If you are tired of getting the “booty call” and want something a little more substantial, like God forbid a date, then you should consider talking to the person you are having relations with so that you know where you stand. You don’t want to waste your time if it is never going to be what you want. [Read: 17 sordid signs you’re just a hookup and nothing more]

#4 You aren’t sure if you are wasting years of your life or finding a mate for it. If you know what you want and aren’t sure what they do, then you can’t be afraid to set the record straight.

The truth is that most people fear having the talk because they are afraid that they are going to scare the other person off. If someone wants to have a relationship with you *or not*, you should know.

Don’t waste your time thinking you can turn a non-committal person into someone who can’t live without you. Chances are good if they don’t want a relationship, you aren’t going to change their mind, you are only going to waste your precious time. [Read: Selfish people – 15 ways to spot them and stop them from hurting you]

#5 You have a key to their place and use it. If you are opening their door or vice versa at will but still have not defined who and what you are to one another, that has to be confusing. Humans weren’t meant to stand in limbo and not know what comes next.

Sometimes we all need definitions just to know where we stand. Otherwise, it can feel like standing in quicksand.

#6 Everyone else calls you their boy/girlfriend but you. How can you introduce someone if you don’t even know who they are to you? If you are in a place where you are going out together, at some point, you are going to have to define what you are introducing each other as. When it becomes awkward, that is when to define the relationship.

#7 It is awkward when people ask, “what are you two doing?” It is awkward enough once you have defined a relationship when the questions about “when are you getting married?” or “when are you two having kids?” come along.

If people have already begun asking you what you two are planning on doing, then it might be time to undo the awkwardness and just figure it out in concrete definitions. And so NOW is when to define the relationship. [Read: 19 sure signs you’re in an exclusive relationship already]

#8 You are well past the third date. The third date is like making it to third base, shit is getting serious. If you are on the third date, or even past it, then stop wondering when to define the relationship and just do it.

It isn’t always about counting dates. But, if you are past the second one and contemplating another, it might be time to think about what you do or don’t want from the relationship.

#9 You want to say I love you, but aren’t sure if they will return it. Ugh, is there anything more anxiety-provoking than the fear of rejection of saying “I love you” and not having it returned?

If you are at the point where you almost feel compelled to profess your love, then stop wondering when to define the relationship *and just do it* so you can rest your own fears and you don’t end up getting super hurt. [Read: When should you say “I love you” for the first time?]

#10 They don’t change their Facebook status after you do. If you changed your relationship status on Facebook and other social media and they have not, then it is time to confirm if you are both on the same media page.

Don’t assume that either they forgot or that they don’t want to be in a relationship, just ask point blank and get the answer you need. If you were ready to change your status and they weren’t, that is something to inquire within. [Read: Facebook official relationship – All the signs your partner is ready for it]

#11 You would be super pissed if they hooked up with someone else. If you found out that they hooked up with someone else and you would be really pissed but haven’t even told them, then it is time to stop pondering when to define the relationship.

Putting expectations on a relationship without even giving a heads up isn’t fair and may lead to some supreme hurt feelings without someone even knowing.

#12 You want things to move forward and beyond. Stop worrying about what they want and holding your tongue. If you know what you want, then you know when to define the relationship… it is when YOU want.

There are no golden rules to a relationship, nor should there be any barriers to you knowing where you stand. Just ask when you want an answer!

#13 Your biological clock is ticking. Yes, it really is a thing. If you know that you are ready for a committed relationship, then you need to know if things are going somewhere or nowhere fast. Don’t sacrifice your own happiness – ever! [Read: DTR Talk – How many dates before it officially becomes a relationship?]

#14 Your lack of definition is going to end up hurting them. When you know that you aren’t as into them as they are you, or you for sure don’t want to have a serious relationship, then you have an obligation to define your relationship and let them know so you aren’t hurting and leading them on.

#15 You feel like you can’t go on the way things are. When you have hit your limit with the wishy-washy nature of your relationship, then it is the best time when to define a relationship.

You can’t stay stuck forever not knowing what the next step is, or if there even is one. If you aren’t feeling good about where you are at, it is your duty to change it.

#16 You’ve been together longer than most people you know who are now getting divorced. When you are that couple who has been together longer than most marriages including those who are now divorced and still have not defined what it is you’re doing, then it might be time to sit down and figure shit out.

If you aren’t moving forward, it is okay, as long as you both don’t want to in tandem. [Read: The 80/20 rule in relationships and your love life]

#17 You have children together. When your child is in school, there is going to be a time to fill out that awkward paperwork where you have different last names, your child has a different last name, and you are still living together.

It is okay if you want to just tell everyone you are rock stars as long as you are all comfortable with it and have explained it to your children so that they know what your commitment is and how stable their family life is.

#18 You share expenses. If you are mixing money and finances, then it is critical for you to define the relationship. Money muddies the waters even in a committed relationship. If you aren’t even sure what type of relationship you have to begin with, that can end in financial hardship, literally.

#19 You are sick of your mom asking. If you are sick of your mother’s inquisition into where the relationship is going, or God forbid her lecture about cows and free milk, then it might be time to stop wondering when to define the relationship.

If you know what you want and you want to live on the edge not knowing, that is okay. But, if your heart sinks every time you know she is going to ask, it is probably because you aren’t okay with not having any definitions any more than she is. [Read: How to talk to your partner about your relationship – DTR made really easy]

#20 It is making you feel insecure not knowing where you stand. Finally, the best time to define a relationship is when you don’t feel good about what is going on, and it is not making you happy.

Whether you haven’t asked out of fear, uncertainty on your part, or just because you don’t know how to bring it up, makes no difference. If it is consuming your time and your mental energy, then just ask, clear it up, and be okay with the answer or move on. [Read: 16 signs you’re not ready for a serious relationship]

A relationship never comes with an instruction manual. The time to define a relationship is different for everyone. What is the same in most relationships is that there comes a time when one, or both partners, needs to know what the hell is going on, where the relationship is going, and to either move forward or move on.


If you are asking when to define the relationship, the answer is most likely, NOW. So be brave and just find the courage to ask. Either way, you’ll feel better about it.



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