‘Hanging out’, ‘dating’, ‘seeing each other’, ‘meeting up’, now more than ever, we tend to be more cautious when it comes to making the jump to boyfriend/girlfriend. But, this hesitation regarding commitment has given way to yet another stage of dating: ‘going exclusive.’
Dating ‘exclusively’ means that you’ve agreed not to see other people and only date each other. While that doesn’t seem like a big ask, dating more than one person is becoming the new norm.
That’s why it’s important never to assume that someone is automatically loyal to you. If you’re catching feelings or are ready to move onto the next stage with someone, then that calls for a conversation.
The exclusive stage is a blessing in disguise
Going exclusive may seem frivolous, but this dating trend is secretly a really responsible way to approach commitment.
Being in a committed relationshipoften means that your lives are entwined; it comes with the agreement to meet their friends and family, support that person emotionally and the added weight that the situation might eventually lead to the rest of your lives. That’s a pretty big deal.
Instead, being exclusive is almost like a trial period before getting into a relationship. It signals that you’re getting serious about each other but to be completely sure, you need to dip your toes in the water just a bit more.
How to ask someone to be exclusive
Going exclusive isn’t a conversation you want to have after just a few dates. Asking for that kind of commitment too soon might drive the other person away. Typically, agreeing to be exclusive with one another doesn’t happen until at least a few months into dating. If you’ve reached a point where you really want to keep this person in your life, then that’s a pretty good sign you need to talk about going exclusive.
If being exclusive is a conversation you’re ready to have, make sure to wait for the perfect time and place; having that kind of conversation in a drunk or angry state won’t mark a good start for any type of commitment, no matter how serious.
Additionally, just because you may be ready to put all your eggs in one basket doesn’t mean the other person feels the same way. Start off by asking, ‘do you think we should stop seeing other people?’ and be ready to talk openly with the person you’re dating about how they feel and their own expectations when it comes to dating.
If the other person isn’t ready to go exclusive or doesn’t feel the same spark, then be grateful that you’ve cleared the air sooner rather than later. Nothing’s worse than developing massive feelings only to find out the other person doesn’t feel remotely similar. In this case, you can continue to pursue a casual relationship or choose to end things there.
On the other hand, if things work out for the best and the person you’re seeing is ready to take things a step further, it’s a good idea to discuss what this means for each of you and any boundaries that exclusivity would imply. Hashing out these subjects beforehand might seem like the perfect way to ruin the moment, but doing so will ensure there’s no room for confusion later down the track.