To send or not to send the carefully composed text? It’s a question many a love-seeking youth has asked themselves in an age in which swiping leads to texting leads to hanging out leads to banging leads to … who the heck knows? Yep, we’re talking about the dreaded “Define the Relationship” (DTR) convo, also known as the “Where is this going?” discussion.
Ideally, DTRs are open and honest face-to-face conversations between two people to discuss what they mean to each other. But that is not necessarily the norm, or even the preferred method of communication for many.
The realm of the DM is vast: There are video chat apps, disappearing messages, and animated bobble heads who will deliver messages for you. Recently, I helped a friend manage a DTR initiated over Snapchat DM! Who says your phone’s texting application has to be where your DTR exists? The person you’re DMing with right now certainly doesn’t.
Most likely, the platform where you have your DTR will be a place where you communicate with your ~person~ frequently. But before you hit send on your “where is this going?” message — or consider how to respond to a DTR message you’ve gotten — you might want to think about the drawbacks and advantages of each.
We’re here to help! Read on for pros, cons, tips, and tricks for navigating DTR convos over DM — and the best and worst platforms for those convos, ranked.
1. Take It IRL
Just because you start a DTR convo, or receive a DTR message, over a DM platform, doesn’t mean that’s where it has to stay. Consider the DM platform as more of a DTR initiation than the entire venue. For example, if you want to DTR, but would rather bring it up over text than in person, why not send a message asking to meet up to talk about the relationship? Or, if you receive a DTR message, be an upstanding person and offer to discuss more IRL if they would prefer? This is called the hybrid method, folks!
Pros: Gives both parties time and space to think about what they want to say. Will lead to an in-person discussion, which promotes empathy, kindness, and understanding.
Cons: You might have to have an in-person conversation 😬.
2. FaceTime (or other video chat)
If you want to have a face-to-face conversation right this moment, but don’t want to wait to get together (or get the prospect of the conversation rejected, as is a risk in option 1), you can always FaceTime your lovah. Open with a casual “what’s good, how’s it going?” and then have the DTR face-to-face.
Pros: An almost-in-person interaction, the opportunity for resolution in realtime.
Cons: Glitching and lagging could lead to awkwardness. Springing a DTR over video chat could be surprising or off-putting.
Whether you’re a blue bubble or a green bubble, you can’t go wrong with a classic.
Pros: More personal and formal than a social media app. Texting as opposed to messaging shows a bit of respect!
Cons: Potential for misunderstandings and misreadings, callousness, obsession over language (going back and re-reading conversations endlessly). The conversation could drag on over hours or days, depending on how long responses take. Then there’s the hornets nest of Read receipts — some people have them, some don’t. Seeing that a message has been read but not responded to can be excruciating.
4. WhatsApp/Facebook Messenger
As text-based DM-ing platforms, these are relatively similar — and not too different from plain old texting.
Pros: Encryption, y’all! Plus, this is a social app, but its main purpose is texting — private communication is the main event, not the side show.
Cons: Lots of people, especially internationally, use WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger as their main forms of communication. But these still seem a bit informal, which could be disrespectful to your interlocutor.
5. Snapchat DM
Want to keep things ~super chill~? You’ve found your platform!
Pros: disappearing messages mean you can’t endlessly obsess over the convo (unless you choose to save them, which means you’re actively choosing obsession). Read receipts for both parties keep people accountable to answer in a timely fashion.
Cons: Good lord, where do we start? Disappearing messages mean you might miss or misunderstand something. Read receipts are stressful as hell. It’s Snapchat, an ephemeral messaging app … that does not speak well for the longevity and commitment of your relationship!
6. Instagram DM
The platform of thirst traps, superficiality, and stuntin’. Who wouldn’t want to DTR here?
Pros: You probably talk to your bae on here a lot. Why not carry on, alongside reminders of how good you look?
Cons: Instagram chat is for sending memes and booty calls. Not a very auspicious beginning for a relationship.
7. Co – Star DM
This astrology app could be the perfect place to either bring to life or kill your relationship.
Pros: Let the movements of the planets be your guide.
Cons: You have to ask your S.O. for their birth time.
8. Instagram post
Usually, the Instagram Official photo post comes after the DTR. But why not switch it and reverse it? Simply announce your relationship to the public before your newly minted significant other agrees to it. And, voila! You’re Instagram Official!
Pros: No messy conversation necessary, and you get to pick a good photo of yourself. Plus, maybe you’re with someone who’s hesitant to commit verbally, but is too lazy to end things verbally, so now you’re just in a relationship, de facto.
Cons: Listen, if a plan is gonna backfire, at least it will backfire in spectacular fashion.
9. Group text
New relationships affect more than just the couple, OK?! Your friends would probably like some clarity about where you two freaks stand, too. Why not have your DTR in a group text with your closest friends, where everyone can witness and comment upon the defining of your relationship?
Pros: Friends keep you honest, friends will have your back, friends are there for you, in good times and bad.
Cons: Honestly, it’s 2019. Maybe this is fine now.