Relationships have stages. There’s meeting, dating, and getting to know each other, and eventually entering that comfort zone where you’re accustomed to each other’s quirks. And then you reach the point where you want to be clear to know where you’re headed. An exclusive relationship is usually considered the next step in dating when both partners agree on some ground rules.
What does exclusivity really mean?
Exclusivity means that you want to be loyal to each other, and you won’t be dating other people. One person’s exclusive relationship definition could imply several different things depending on the individual. To most people, dating exclusively means that you’re seeing just one person and committing to them. More specifically, your partner has their eyes for only one person – you, and there is no third party involved.
Since men and women often have different ideas of what an exclusive relationship is, agreeing on what it means to you as a couple is crucial. It has probably been weeks or months that you’ve been dating until now, and your relationship is moving forward. After all, dating exclusively can bring some changes to your life. It may even influence your decision to move in together or even get married.
What does exclusivity in dating change?
Exclusivity is something that every meaningful romantic relationship strives toward. You’ve finally been able to meet that special someone, and you’re looking for the signs a guy wants to date you exclusively. You may even think you’ve finally found The One, and it could lead to true love after having invested valuable time with dating apps and websites.
So, it stands to good reason that you want to know where your relationship is really headed. More importantly, is it evolving into something that you’re hoping for? Will the communication change? Will the frequency of your dates change? Will you meet your boyfriend’s family and inner circle? These are just a few things becoming exclusive can change. So, is it really headed toward a serious relationship?Exclusivity is something that every meaningful romantic relationship strives toward. Click To Tweet
Is being exclusive the same as being in a relationship?
There’s a difference between dating exclusively versus being in a committed relationship. Exclusive dating will still be one-on-one dating, but you won’t keep your options open, and you will not be seeing other people anymore. While you were dating casually or dating without discussing the exclusivity, there was always the option that either of you would date another person. When you’ve agreed to be exclusive, though, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are in a committed relationship just yet, even though you may be in the transition towards it.
Being in a relationship means you are officially a couple. There will be so much you’ll be learning and discovering about one another, especially during the first year of a relationship. This is when the energy between you becomes more authentic, and the connection itself can take on a new vitality. There will be no more “sowing of wild oats,” so to speak, nor is there any longer the option for either partner to play the proverbial field. If your partner has previously been known as a player, he’s now shifted into the idea that giving up those careless days is a good thing. You’ve become the primary romantic focus of one another’s universe. Of course, you will first want to make sure that it’s the right time for a relationship in both of your lives.
Just like before transitioning to an exclusive dating phase, before calling it a committed relationship, you may want to have a talk with your partner and discuss your expectations. Remember, the feelings, as well as the desires of both partners, are always important. If there was ever a moment to convey and discuss one another’s personal expectations for the relationship, it’s right now! For example, whether or not you’ll be spending the weekends together. If so, then at a whose place?
Communication may shift a bit in frequency as well, becoming more regular and consistent. So, it may be a good idea to cover your personal preferences in general, such as how often you communicate and how. You may also want to consider updating your relationship status on social media and discussing if you’re ready to delete your dating profiles. After all, if you’re only seeing each other, why would a dating profile be needed any longer? Sometimes, it helps make a list of your expectations regarding what changes dating exclusively and being in a relationship might bring for you.
Do men and women respond to the idea of exclusivity differently?
You already know how you feel about the idea of exclusivity. However, what exactly does being exclusive mean to a guy? While many men eagerly pursue exclusivity, others need a moment to wrap their head around it or gather their courage. After all, there is evidence that monogamy goes against some men’s innate nature. If he takes a moment to himself to really give exclusivity careful thought, it doesn’t mean he’s any less interested. Instead, it most likely means that he’s taking the idea of exclusivity – as well as his relationship with you – very seriously. And you wouldn’t want it any other way.
That said, sometimes the reason why guys back off is a combination of “I’m putting my thoughts and feelings together” and “I’m watching how she responds.” Your ability to continue keeping a calm, even demeanor will solidify in his mind that he’s making the right decision about moving forward. You see, when a man backs away, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s pulling away from you. Instead, it often means that he’s just taking the time he needs to assess his feelings and bring his decision to become exclusive to fruition.
What’s the right time to be exclusive?
This is an important question that you’ll want to ask yourself: are you now ready to be exclusive? Is the guy ready? How long have you been dating – days, weeks, months, years? So, let’s address the question of personal timing.
With entering the phase of exclusivity, the dynamic of your relationship itself will change. Once you become exclusive, you’ll unite many aspects of your lives. This doesn’t mean that you’ll lose your autonomy. It means that you’ll get to embark on a new path in your relationship journey with the potential to offer fulfillment. Are you prepared to consider another person’s plans and personal needs along with your own, potentially from now on?
Timing the conversation is just as important as the conversation itself. You’ll want to communicate when you’re both ready, but also at a time absent of background noise or distractions. You don’t want to be discussing your relationship with referees shouting in the background during the game on TV. Choose a time when you’re both relaxed, comfortable, and open to a productive talk. The ideal time will be one during which there is very little chance that you might be interrupted. After all, it’s the conversation that you’ll both want to devote your attention to!Are you prepared to consider another person's plans and personal needs along with your own, potentially from now on? Click To Tweet
Why having the conversation is important?
It is wise to have a conversation before deciding to be exclusive to make sure you are on the same page. You’ll confirm and validate how you feel about each other. You’ll also establish where the relationship you share is currently headed, along with those exclusivity ground rules. The rules are essential, as they will set the overall tone for your relationship.
Topics that you may want to discuss before becoming exclusive:
- How do you both feel about keeping in contact with your exes?
- Are you ok with having platonic friends of the opposite sex?
- Are you in a committed relationship, or will you be dating exclusively without a long-term vision?
- Will you share with people such as friends and family that you’re now a couple?
- Will you change your relationship status on social media?
- When is it appropriate to remove your profile from dating sites?
Discussing these topics will help to do a reality check of your expectations, preventing you from future disappointments.
Top 10 signs your relationship is exclusive
Do you feel as though the guy you’ve been dating is about to bring up the exclusivity topic? Are you experiencing that intuitive pull that’s telling you he’s feeling the same intensity that you’ve been feeling? Chances are your instincts are spot on! While each romantic connection is different, there are a few tell-tale signs that your relationship is headed towards being exclusive. These signs will help you determine whether you’re right around the corner from that exclusivity talk.
1. He maximizes his time with you
For most people, time is valuable, so the guy you are seeing will want to maximize his time with you. After your date, does he give you the vibe he doesn’t want your time to end? Is he in regular contact with you throughout the day, not just 30 minutes before your date? Does he plan and invest in fun dates that allow you to take part in quality time (outside of the bedroom)? If his band has a gig, he’ll invite you to come along so you can cheer him on. He’ll give up hanging out with his buddies without a second thought so he can be there to comfort you when your beloved pet dies. In other words, you’ll feel as though he values your connection, and his time with you will reflect this.
2. He makes you feel comfortable
He’ll be comfortable with you, and while he may take time to himself, he won’t push you away. And, he’ll keep the conversation going. I don’t mean that he keeps you awake until zero dark-thirty on the electronic tether. He’ll have ongoing communication with you, chatting openly about everything under the sun. Since his mind is in the zone of dating as an exclusive couple, he’ll do things such as texting you to make sure you’ve arrived safely home. He’ll consider your needs without being asked to. He’ll randomly text you something cute in the middle of the day or like one of your social media posts. You won’t have to question whether it’s okay to message him first because chances are, he’s already done it himself.
3. He has worked you into his world
You’re not just anyone. You’ve become significant in your partner’s life. You may feel as though you’ve become indispensable to one another. Does he merely tell you about the wacky person he works with, or did he introduce you to his buddies? Has he told you about his mom’s famous spaghetti, or has he invited you to get to know her over dinner? Whatever and whoever is closest to him, you’ll have seen or met them – up close and personally.Has he told you about his mom's famous spaghetti, or has he invited you to get to know her over dinner? Click To Tweet
4. He talks about the future
Better yet, is he discussing your future? While you were out hiking, he casually mentioned going to dinner that night. That’s great, but that isn’t the definition of the future I’m referring to. Is he talking about what you’re going to do at the weekend? Is he discussing where the two of you would like to be spending your upcoming holidays together? Is he bringing up things along the lines of, “Let’s get coffee some afternoon when I have time?” Or is he mentioning that he’d like to go to Hawaii with you?
5. He already “tested” you
He’ll want to know what he has to look forward to, right? He may try to see you in every possible setting to discern a bit more about how you feel, too. So, before transitioning to exclusivity, he’ll have tested the waters. He’ll want to see how jealous you get, if you have the tendency to be insecure, and if you’ll allow him his autonomy. He may have even casually smiled at another girl in your presence just to gauge your reaction.
6. His ex is old news
While your boyfriend may have lamented over his exes at the beginning of your relationship, it has stopped. He stopped bringing up the fact that his ex hacked his phone during their breakup a year ago. You’re confident he’s not taking his ex back. Neither of you is interested in the exes, and his primary focus is on you. More importantly, on how you feel about him. He might even try to “sell you” on the idea of how great he is by boasting about his own traits, successes, or achievements. Why? Because he wants you to think he’s the greatest man alive, so you’ll want to be exclusive with him – sooner rather than later.
7. He is showing you that he’s all in
Being “all in” means being invested in the relationship for the long-term. The guy you are seeing may even refer to you as “a couple.” He’ll show you he’s ready to commit. Do you have a date every weekend? Does he include you in his interests and hobbies? And even better, does he have enthusiasm for yours? Is he interested in the fight you’re having with your boss? Does he comfort you when you are stressed or in pain? Men express their feelings through showing interest in you, which may be a sign he is ready to be exclusive.Men express their feelings through showing interest in you, which may be a sign he is ready to be exclusive. Click To Tweet
8. He’s an excellent partner
He can read you. He may even seem to have the uncanny ability to sense what you want or what you need to hear at any given time. Whether he goes out of his way to open doors, bring you soup when you’ve been sick, or bookmarks your favorite page in your book when you forget to, he’s seemingly able to just know what you need. In other words, you’re in sync. He knows that there’s a difference between listening and hearing, and he’s doing both. He’s made it clear he will stand by you, regardless of the situation. He might even mention he feels your relationship is going well and he hopes it will continue.
9. He can be himself with you
Whether alone or in a group, your partner is honest and authentic with you. You’ve even been to his messy place, and he wasn’t afraid to let you in. While he tries to put his best foot forward, he hides nothing about who he is, any shortcomings, or his least attractive traits. He never, ever lies to you, even about things that aren’t pretty. And, you can believe what he says. Everyone tries to present themselves well by putting their best foot forward, especially when the relationship is just starting out. However, now your boyfriend doesn’t feel the pressure to be perfect. He’ll agree to disagree. He’s still actively pursuing you, but the overall feeling is one of comfort. Maybe he forgets to shave, but this doesn’t mean he’s letting himself go. It means he’s relaxed enough around you that he has peace of mind and self-confidence.
10. His actions speak louder than words
People can say one thing but do another. When a man is no longer thinking of other women, it shows. You trust him and don’t need him to provide proof of his fidelity. Your partner has empathy and can get past it when incidents or people upset him. He’s more communicative in your connection than when you first met. He understands the type of person you’re seeking and has revealed himself to be precisely that.
This list of signs should help you in your process of discerning whether or not the guy you’ve been dating is ready for the next step. Some women even say they can sense it when a man is prepared for exclusivity. Does your gut feeling tell you that your boyfriend is about to bring up the exclusivity topic? If your experience seems to coincide with what we’ve discussed here, you’re likely on your way to your exclusive relationship.