The Important Reason You Should DTR (Define The Relationship)


By Gabrielle White

It can be really intimidating to call a date a date. But new research suggests that when you DTR (define the relationship), it may lead to better marriages.

The National Marriage Project at The University of Virginia tracked 1,294 research subjects ages 18-34 over 5 years. 418 of the subjects ended up married in that time, so the researchers were able to compare the conditions of those subjects’ relationships before and after marriage.

The biggest takeaway? Decisive relationships made for more successful marriages down the line. When couples were more proactive about defining their relationships earlier on, and more decisive in the way they moved forward, they reported greater satisfaction in their marriages.

Looking to implement the findings? Couples showed decisiveness in many ways: deciding to live together, rather than letting it happen because a lease ended or some other external factor made it convenient; being willing to define the relationship as they went along (we hear you groaning, it’s okay, us too). Any willingness to actively talk about the transitions that couples have to make, as opposed to letting circumstances dictate, or taking refuge in the comfort of ambiguity, led the couples to report having happier marriages.

The bottom line: it’s scary to define a relationship and to put our hopes, dreams and fears on the line. It's very vulnerable. But research suggests a dash of decisiveness really does do a relationship good.

writer photo

Gabrielle White

Gabby's ultimate heartbreak cure is a repeat cycle of rooibos tea, puppy snuggles, and salted dark chocolate.