I had dinner this week with my old roommate at the popular Northern Virginia watering hole Cafe Asia in Rosslyn. She shared that she is seeing someone new and they just had the conversation about whether they were boyfriend/girlfriend.
I said, “Oh you had the DTR talk!” Blank look…I thought everyone used that phrase for “Defining the Relationship talk.” Even my college newspaper wrote columns about it! This is a pinnacle moment in all romantic relationships, when you’ve been hanging out with a guy for a while all my friends would always ask, “So have you had the DTR talk with him yet???”
I got to thinking about the DTRs in my romance novels (I feel like I sound like Carrie Bradshaw here) and realized they RARELY have them, well at least not in the traditional sense.
I think of DTRs as in: you chat with a guy on IM every day, study in the library together, go to his fraternity date function, hook up, then have the DTR where he says he’s really focusing on school and then doesn’t IM you anymore.
Not that that ever happened to me.
Or in current times, you meet a guy at a bar, go out to dinner, text regularly, go out to dinner more, then are going to meet his friends and have the DTR where you agree he will introduce you as his girlfriend and that neither of you will see anyone else.
Or the reeeally old DTR in high school where he calls you at home and your little sister keeps getting on the phone but you know this is THE NIGHT where he is going to ask you to “go out with him” because your friend heard from his friend’s sister that he was going to ask you out aka to be his girlfriend. Squeee!
I think romance novels skip this phase. It seems to me the Hero and Heroine relationship are either:
- Engaging in witty banter with sexual tension, but have no relationship
- Are lovers with no commitments or long term plans
- Are in a forced marriage due to plot devices too numerous to mention (hellloooo historical romance)
- Go from lovers to confessions of undying love followed by immediate marriage and babies and happily ever after
- Go from forced-cold-marriage-in-name-only to confessions of undying love, apologies/groveling for misunderstandings, (sometimes even a renewal of vows bc this time they are luuurrve) then have babies and live happily ever after etc. etc.
There are many courtship rituals that romance novels explore, across all times of history, and some futuristic ones too depending on the sub genre! But rarely will a romance novel have the characters be boyfriend/girlfriend.
My poor tired little brain (yay it’s Friday!) thinks this might because it’s NOT AS INTERESTING and I squeal/cry/smile when I read romance novels because of the drama, because of the unique romantic situations and resolutions.
Whereas plent of chick lit novels have the DTR and the characters actually “date” (Shopaholic, Bridget Jones, etc) and also YA novels, I just don’t think I see it that much in the traditional romance novel.
Am I really that burnt out that I am missing examples of this? I can tell you that I am happy I had MY last DTR when hubby proposed. I wouldn’t want to go through defining relationship talks EVER again.
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