If you want to have a healthy relationship, you need to define the relationship. One of the biggest reasons that relationships have problems is because both people in the relationship have different expectations and assumptions about what kind of relationship they're in.
Frankly, if you think you're on the road to marriage and happily ever after and your boyfriend or girlfriend thinks that's what you have is a nice light fling, you are going to have problems. Hurt emotions, broken hearts and generally misery tend to lie in the future for people who fail to define the relationship they're in.
The problem is that everyone, and I mean everyone, tends to think of everything they do as normal. This is a problem because there is no such thing as normal. Every person is a unique bundle of needs, fears, and desires. The strengths and weaknesses that make us who we are make the need to define the relationship essential.
Whether we realize it or not, we are all using ourselves as the baseline for behavior. This means that on some very essential levels, we assume that other people want what we want, feel what we feel. Most of us are aware that this isn't the case on a conscious level, but it's hard to put this into action all the time.
As long as things seem to be going okay, we have a tendency to let this go on more and more. After all, when they seem happy and you seem happy, there's no reason to examine your assumptions and expectations. Most of us only do that when things have gone wrong in a relationship.
This why the need to define the relationship early on is so great. Because other people are, well, other people. They may be happy in the relationship, but they may be happy for different reasons. If you let this go too far, you may be setting yourself up for resentment and pain.
By taking the time to define the relationship, you are taking the reins in the relationship. You will be able to see where you are and where you are heading. This will allow you to have a healthier, stronger relationship because you will both be pulling in the same direction rather than going off in two different emotional directions until the strain on the relationship is so great that it breaks.
The problem with taking action to define the relationship is that it's not the comfortable path to take. The conversations can be awkward, and there's always an element of fear that the two of you will have such radically different expectations and goals that the relationship may end.
These are false worries, for the most part. You need to look at the effort to define the relationship as being exercise for your relationship: it may be tough and the time and there's a small chance that you may get injured, but the truth is that it will almost always make the relationship better and stronger.
If you need help in figuring out what you need to do to define the relationship, there is loads of help available. This is one of the best things you can do to build a strong relationship, and it is well worth the effort.