#DTR? Yes. Now, Monitor the actions (#MTA)
A conversation between two lovers
Ann: Baby, please can I have a word with you?
Ben: OK babes.
(Ann sits close to Ben holding his hands and staring into his eyes)
Ann: Lately I have been worried about us and it’s giving me sleepless nights
Ben: (looking confused) What is the matter babes, did I do something wrong?
Ann: Not at all my love (holding his hands so firmly), we have been together for over 3 years and it seems we still can’t figure out where this relationship is headed.
Ben: But babes you know I love you so much, is that not enough?
Ann:(standing up feeling pissed) Love! Ben I am in my late thirties, I don’t have much time left to start my own family. Or do you want me to start having children at old age?
Ben: But I am not ready to settle down yet.
(Ann walks away in tears and shocked at Ben’s statement)
In 2018, Ibaningo attended a marriage seminar in Port Harcourt and was opportune to listen to a famous marriage/relationship counselor. The counselor shared much wisdom that triggered deep thoughts about the nature and essence of relationships.
During the course of the seminar, participants were given surveys to respond to. One of the questions read: Did you define your relationship? Ibaningo was confused given her thinking that love relationships ought to evolve organically. She, therefore, never gave a thought to defining her relationship or having the Defining the Relationship (#DTR) talk with her partner at the time. Ibaningo was eager to hear the counselor explain the question. With a broad smile on her face, the counselor said: “Failure to define relationships is the reason why people make assumptions and imagine the unreal”.
Ibaningo’s interest in the conversation soared even higher when the counselor made the next statement. “You can be so close to an opposite sex, become so intimate, catch feelings and fall in love and still not officially be an item”. Ibaningo immediately began to question herself as to whether the #DTR talk is a must for every relationship. For instance, as is seen in the case of Ann and Ben, three years in, Ann is yet to understand the direction of her relationship with Ben.
At the end of the seminar, Ibaningo had a couple of questions. First, what is #DTR? Second, is the #DTR talk a must? Third, when is the right time to have the #DTR talk? Fourth, who gets to initiate the #DTR talk? Lastly, how should the #DTR talk be structured?
To help Ibaningo answer these questions, Elanhub had a sit-down with three panelists: Pastor (Dr.) Nwanne Madubuike, Dr. Ijeoma Onwumere and author/writer, Glory Abah. The two-hour zoom meeting had in attendance eight other participants. In the end, the following conclusions were reached.
What is #DTR?
#DTR is a critical moment in the cause of a relationship when someone wants clarity regarding where the relationship is headed. Whereas most male partners equate the #DTR talk with will you marry me or not and as such are scared of making promises, female partners just want to know where things stand in the relationship. For instance, are we just friends, dating, official/Facebook Official, friends-with-benefit, or getting married?
Is the #DTR talk a must?
The panelists reached the conclusion that the #DTR talk is a given in most relationships. While some couples tackle it head-on, others are quite subtle. But, whether vocalized or not, it is important for people in relationships to regularly evaluate their state of affairs. This is in order to avoid misinformation and false assumptions. The #DTR talk is not one to be had just once. It needs to be revisited at different phases of the relationship.
Who should initiate the #DTR talk?
Although someone often initiates the talk, that is, the male or female partner, the conversation itself ought to involve both parties in the relationship. This is because; it takes two to agree on a matter. Granted, it takes a bit of courage to engage in #DTR talk, couples should be upfront about their expectations rather than shying away from them. Any member of the relationship, who feels confident about taking the relationship to another dimension, could, therefore, initiate #DTR.
When is the right time to have the #DTR talk?
There is no prescribed time to have a DTR especially because, it could occur at different stages of a relationship. However, whenever, one is to be had, it is important for couples to be respectful yet, clear about their feelings and intentions towards each other.
How should the #DTR talk be structured?
- Have the #DTR talk when you feel ready
- Have clear goals and intentions
- Pick a convenient time
- Be gentle
- Ask questions and patiently wait for answers
What Next? Monitor the actions (#MTA)
While the need for a #DTR cannot be overemphasized, what is even more crucial is to monitor people’s actions. This is especially because, in this day and age, people can be quite deceptive and manipulative aka Yoruba Demons. Some people are willing to do anything to keep people in a relationship for selfish ends. It is, therefore, crucial that couples watch out! Having had the DTR, how is my partner acting? Is he or she following through on the agreements reached? Has any progress been made? Is there another need for a DTR? #MTA is important because actions they say, speak much louder than mere words! To avoid getting hurt, have a #DTR, then begin to #MTA.