A question that we frequently wonder about when we start dating someone is, “Are we exclusive?”
If you’ve just started dating someone, having the “relationship talk” can be nerve-racking and even downright scary.
In this article, we’re going to answer all your burning questions about dating exclusively and help you figure out how to take it to the next step.
Is Being Exclusive the Same as Dating?
When you’re seeing someone, there will be many levels until you reach a committed relationship.
Exclusive dating is a transition stage that comes between casual dating and a committed relationship. When you’re dating someone exclusively, you aren’t seeing anyone else but them.
The stage is monogamous, but you’re still unsure about getting into a life-long monogamous relationship.
Instead, you’re only focusing on having one person as your love interest while getting to know more about them.
You may not be getting to know your partner’s family or their close friends’ circle at this stage. Still, you explore your partner better and move towards an exclusive, monogamous, life-long relationship.
The difference between exclusive dating and exclusive relationships is that you don’t verbally commit to a long-term relationship in exclusive dating, despite being invested in only one person.
On the other hand, an exclusive relationship involves talking about the future, kids, home, finances, and all the shared responsibilities you will fulfill as a couple.
So, dating and being exclusive are transitional phases to a committed relationship. If things work well, dating comes first, then you move up to exclusive dating and finally enter into a committed relationship.
How Long Should You Date Exclusively Before a Relationship?
There’s no hard and fast rule for your time as an exclusive couple. However, relationship experts believe it’s good to date exclusively for two to three months before committing further.
Still, not all relationships work in the same manner. Sometimes, when you meet your soul-mate, it’s a matter of days to decide on a long-term relationship and make it official.
On the other hand, sometimes, you may realize that you haven’t made the right decision even after committing.
So, whatever the pace and dynamics of your relationship, you should try to get to know your partner better. You can achieve it by seeing them often and spending exclusive time together.
If you have deep feelings for someone, and you’re still struggling to go exclusive with them, informing them about your feelings helps because the next logical step is exclusive dating if they feel the same.
A few months of exclusive dating will fill the crevices between you because you will see each other more and have plenty of time to think about your preferences.
How Do You Talk About Getting Exclusive?
The scariest of all the dating steps is to get into the “exclusivity” or ‘commitment’ talk. You may feel unsure about how the other one sees the relationship status, and you dread rejection the most if you have deep feelings for your partner.
Still, you need to talk about the status of your relationship if you want to go long-term. The worst mistake you can make is assuming that since you’re dating exclusively with your partner, they are doing the same.
It may come as a shock that your partner finds your dates refreshing, but they will see other people.
Since you haven’t talked about the status of your relationship, you cannot blame your partner.
If you’re sure of getting monogamous with your partner, talk to them with the following tips in mind:
- Talk about exclusivity in person because text messages or facetime can be deceptive in the tone or the message.
- Be direct in telling them about your intention of going exclusive.
- Prepare yourself to get either a yes or a no, and don’t treat “no” as rejection.
- If you get a no, don’t limit yourself to one partner only, because you may end up alone this way.
The conversation will be tough to steer, but you may have worse consequences if you don’t have it. So, give it a go.
When Should You Ask to Date Exclusively?
Your timeline depends on the structure of your relationship. The conversation of going exclusive can come up for some on the first date, or for some, it may take months.
Whatever the case, never leave midway when you have feelings for your partner. Even if you initially get a no, you may get a yes after some time.
So, the timing isn’t crucial, but exclusivity depends on how you both feel for each other and how well you fit into each other’s lives.
Don’t rush. Take baby steps towards cementing a relationship into an exclusive one because it’s a whole new world of exploring each other when you have a single love interest in life.
With that, the expectations change too, on both sides. So, think carefully, assess your life preferences with a broad point of view, and only then decide on exclusivity.
Change of mind later on will be difficult for both of you, so keep going at your pace.
How Do I Know if We’re Exclusive?
There are a few tell-tale signs when things are pacing from casual dating to exclusivity:
1. More Curiosity
While you will only be interested in getting to know the day-to-day activities when casually dating, exclusive dating will be much more than that.
Your partner will be curious to know about your life preferences, how you bond with the people around you, your family dynamics, etc.
It means that they will be interested in getting to know you better because they have plans for you.
2. Family Meetings
Whenever someone wants to get exclusive, they naturally want their partner to meet their family and friends.
They want to lower the barriers between the partner and the family, who will eventually become acquainted with each other when both of you get exclusive with each other.
It’s a signal that your partner sees you as a part of their family in the long run.
3. Making Plans Together
No matter how busy your partner is, if they want to see you often and don’t make plans without you, you’re more than a fling or casual date for them.
Depending on their emotional bond with you, these plans can be small or big.
Still, exclusive dating starts with small plans together and grows to life plans like kids, a house, and finances together in a long-term commitment.
4. Taking Out Time for You
When your partner is making plans with you, they’re indirectly taking out time for you in their schedule.
We all know that we take out time only for those people who have a place in our hearts and lives.
So, if your casual partner keeps you high on their priority list, get ready to have a conversation about an exclusive relationship.
Exclusive dating is different from a committed relationship because you haven’t decided to spend your life together yet.
But, it is similar to an exclusive relationship in the emotional bonding, trust, and dependence on each other for support. The stage comes between casual dating and an exclusive relationship and can be challenging to navigate if you’re not moving in the same direction.
However, open communication can pave the road to a committed relationship after exclusive dating, so hang in there if you are into one.