‘Define The Relationship’: LDS Lifestyle Leads to Early Relationship Discussion


    By Brittanie Morris

    DTR: Although it also stands for Diesel Truck Resource, Data Terminal Ready, Downtown Radio, Dundee Tunnel Research, Desktop Rock, Direct-to-Tape Recording, Defense Training Review and many other things, some might call this phrase an institution at BYU.

    The acronym, coined among the LDS population, means “define the relationship” is all too common among the campus” everyday conversation.

    The term is notorious at BYU because of the apparent necessary immediacy in talking about a relationship that often has not even had time to develop.

    Often the response is “what relationship?” said Tyler Pedersen, psychologist and assistant clinical professor at BYU.

    Pedersen deems the term a “Mormon phenomenon” and said the term probably doesn”t exist at other schools in the U.S.

    “It [discussing the relationship] is necessary at some point, but it”s related to timing,” Pedersen said. “I think it happens way too early here.”

    Laura Moster, 19, a junior majoring in history teaching, agrees students at BYU discuss relationships too soon.

    “People take things way too seriously,” Moster said. “They talk about their relationships before they are at the place they need to be [to have that talk].”

    So, why the BYU rush? Perhaps it is due to the LDS culture.

    Steven Pray, 23, a junior majoring in psychology, said students in the psychology department recently conducted a study at BYU and found the greatest fear among BYU students, even greater than fears of dying or fears of various reptiles or insects, is the failure to get married.

    Pray said DTRs have to happen more at BYU because more people are expecting serious relationships.

    “People like to have clarity in their relationships,” Pray said.

    However, Pray said some of these talks border on ridiculous and weird, especially those that happen before there is even a relationship to define.

    Douglas Brinley, professor of church history and doctrine and family life educator, said relationships at BYU range between two extremes.

    “Some make decisions so quickly that they don”t take a careful look, and others are so cautious they won”t ever make a move,” Brinley said. “They want the Lord to hit them on top of the head.”

    Brinley agreed that discussing a relationship at some point is a good idea, but the timing should be right. He said part of the reason couples at BYU are so eager to discuss their relationships is due to the emphasis on eternal marriage in the church and the increase in failing marriages across the world.

    Brinley also emphasized the necessity of taking time before getting married.

    “You can”t cheat time,” Brinley said. “You need time together and time apart.”

    Brinley”s solution to the BYU dating/marriage scene is unselfishness and willingness to experiment from both parties.

    “It takes a girl who is willing to date and guys who are willing to ask,” Brinley said.

    Several books about marriage and dating relationships are offered through the church and through other venues as well.

    “Define the Relationship” by Jeremy and Jerusha Clark, “First Comes Love” by Douglas Brinley, and

    “Divorceless Marriage” by Randy Bott, are just a few.

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