By: McLean Robbins 

I’d once been dating a man for about four months. After waking up together most weekend mornings together, he suddenly rolled over one day, looked at me seriously, and said he had a something to say. Uh oh. I felt like I was getting served, and I sure as hell wasn’t looking forward to the experience.

“I think we should try dating.”

I’m pretty sure the shocked look on my face gave it all away. My response? Something to the effect of “what the F do you think we’ve been doing for the past few months?”

No Facebook status change was necessary – over the next few days (hours, really), I heard from various friends, congratulating me on the fact that I now had a boyfriend.

That was when I first heard of the DTR, or the “determine the relationship” talk.

DTR = Death (of) The Relationship

Recently I’ve been watching the implosion of relationship after relationship – from the ending of casual flings to the demise of a long-term couple, the carnage that comes from the end of lighthearted summer fun is all around us, myself included.

What’s to blame, you ask? I’ve got an answer for you – it’s the damn DTR. Determine, my ass – lately, it’s seemed more like death.

Whether you’re trying to make it serious with your summer sweetie or simply trying to find out if your bed partner is doing the dirty with others on the side, determining whatever the f*(! this is should be handled with extreme caution – or not at all.

In its most recent iteration, I managed to ruin a perfectly lovely new something or other by asking the man if we were dating.

I could tell by the silence and the deep inhalation of breath in the bed beside me that my question was not a welcome one. “Are you trying to DTR me?” he laughed, nervously.

My first thought? I was impressed that he knew what a DTR was.

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DTR vs. Dating

I panicked. He had mistaken my question of dating for a DTR, when, in fact, I was really trying to figure out if I should be tentatively scheduling him into the top slot on my weekend rotation until a real DTR (a few months down the road, mind you) might or might not be necessary.

My general feeling on “the talk” is that it’s reserved for men‘ class=’linkify’ target=’_blank’>women who want to gain fraternity pins or letter jackets.

I wasn’t about to hand him a piece of paper with “do you like me, check yes or no” written on it… after all, he’d just spent the past hour proving that if he didn’t “like” me… well, he liked my body just fine.

A Woman’s P.O.V.

Fellas, it’s natural for the woman to want to bring up this topic of conversation – after all, we assume that all men are horn dogs who are getting it on with as many ladies as possible at any given time. After a certain period – several dates, intense hookups, or god forbid, several mattress mambos, we begin to question if we are the only ones getting the special treatment.

From the female perspective, this is a perfectly legitimate question – after all, it’s not that difficult to schedule a different date on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights, and, given some delicate Facebook balancing, a guy or gal will never be the wiser. After all, we’ve been known to play the field too – having one, two or even three men on the back burner at any given time.

But once it gets to a certain point – sex, usually – we begin to wonder if we’re the only one. After all, there’s a health aspect to worry about, not to mention the emotional intimacy that comes from being connected to someone on that level.

I tried to explain that – the health aspect, anyway. I wasn’t trying to put a definition or a string on our non-relationship relationship, but I was trying to tell him that I’d simply like to be aware if I was just one of many.

But it failed, the man headed for the hills – Capitol Hill – to be exact, not to call again for a long and trying eight days, at which point I received a drawn-out and rather awkward voice message asking if I’d like to get together with him for a “lovely evening.” 

The Determination

No, douche bag, what I’d like is if you acted like a man and gave me a straight answer. Instead, you slapped me on the wrist.

Do you know what you’ve succeeded in doing? You’ve succeeded in making me feel bad that I slept with you – not bad that I asked if we were dating, mind you – but guilty that I even did the deed in the first place.

And whether you’re just a friend with benefits or potential (girl)friend, that’s never a place someone wants to be.

Call us  women stupid, but, like those all-important words “you’ve been served,” a DTR is often just a search for verbal affirmation of what you already know. Tell her that you respect her / value her companionship / you’re interested in seeing where this might be going OR that you enjoy the time in bed but just aren’t seeking a relationship / aren’t into her like that / enjoy things the way they are.

So men, here’s my plea – when a woman asks what’s up, give her an answer … even if it’s the not one you think she wants to hear. If we’re adult enough to be in your bed, we’re adult enough to handle the truth.

When she’s not jetsetting around the world exploring the latest luxury resorts and spas, McLean is writing from her home base in Washington, D.C.
She’s also the author of the dating and relationship blog
The Misadventures of K & M with her blonder better half, K. Got a question or a comment? E-mail her at