When To Date Exclusively - When does a relationship become exclusive?
By: Carlos Cavallo
One of the most important milestones in a relationship is when you become exclusive. It's also one of the most anxious times for women because she's waiting for weeks or even months to figure out “Where is this going?" So let's talk about exclusive relationships, and when does a relationship become exclusive?
In many surveys, when American couples are asked about when they think you should become exclusive, they typically say around the 3-month mark.
Are you keeping track of time?
Are they right? or is that too soon to be exclusive?
Maybe too late?
If you see each other once a week, that would be around 12 dates. Maybe as many as 24 or if you see each other a lot. But if you're seeing each other a lot, that kind of implies that you are exclusive already.
The truth is, each person is going to have their own particular time frame and deadline. And there are a lot of variables to this equation. There is no perfect formula for figuring this out.
You might run into your soulmate, and want to to speed things up. Or you might run into a guy you’re just not sure about and you want to take a little extra time with him.
Let's talk about the different factors that might come up that make you think about going exclusive earlier vs later.
Making Things Exclusive Tip 1: You may never know…
Some couples never really officially make things exclusive. They don't always have The Talk to establish the formal start of The Relationship.
Sometimes things seem to just go in the right direction with autopilot, and you don't need to push it.
This can be a really good sign when neither of you really thinks about it much. That means you are just spending your time enjoying the relationship instead of worrying about the formalizing and going exclusive.
Tip 2: It's usually your radar
Your inner feelings about the relationship typically make this an issue or not.
Let's be honest:
Making your dating exclusive is really a factor of of how anxious you feel about losing him.
If you've been dating him for a few weeks and he seems like a really good catch, but seems a bit aloof, you're going to be worrying about losing him. You could wind up pretty agitated until you can nail things down.
On the other hand, if he just plows forward, you won't really think about the "exclusive" part.
Tip 3 : Does anything really change?
If you think about it, what is supposed to change when your relationship becomes exclusive? For most people this means you stop dating other people.
Yes, hopefully this means you no longer have to lie awake wondering if he's out on a date with another woman.
It's not like anything formal actually changes between you. After all, there are no written contracts. You're just trying to get to a place where you can relax in the relationship.
If you're trying to get exclusive with your man, think about whether or not you need to press the subject. Do you really need to corner him and make him sign a document? Maybe take a test and and pledge his undying loyalty?
Be careful about formalizing the arrangement at the expense of the natural flow. Sometimes it's better to wait a little longer and let things run their course naturally.
Tip 4 : You could spook him
Guys are notoriously skittish when it comes to having a talk about your relationship status. If you try to get him to go exclusive before he is ready, you might send him running to the Hills.
However, if a guy is really into you, he's going to naturally stop seeing other women. Guys don't want to date multiple women unless he doesn't see potential - or he's is just a player.
And the truth is that "players" only make up less than 10% of all men. Those guys that gave you a vibe of being “pickup artists” were simply trying to get out of the relationship.
Guys are much more relaxed about making things exclusive. So that does mean you could potentially frighten him by bringing it up too early.
Tip 5 : Most men don't notice a change
Guys are perfectly happy letting the relationship move forward at its own pace. Which means that for him, it's just a slow natural progression. He might not even think there's really a "change" in your status.
He's content to just go with the flow...
This can be good or it can be bad.
He will just slip into to Committed Boyfriend Mode all on his own.
Things will feel more natural
Very little chance of bringing up resistance
Yes - he could take forever to come around
He could assume you are casually dating and still seeing other people
But overall, the line between exclusive and dating is pretty thin and can be hard to see much difference.
Tip 6 : Have a checkpoint for yourself
When I coach women on their dating and relationships, very often I discover that they don't have any decision points for going exclusive.
And what this means is that they don't ever stop for a moment to really check-in and make sure they WANT to become exclusive with a guy she is dating. They just default right into dating one man as soon as possible and no others.
Take the time to go over re-evaluate your relationship...
The reality is that just because you like a guy and start dating him, you don't have to keep dating him. And he doesn't have to be the ONLY guy you're dating.
(No, you're not a 'slut' if you date more than one guy.)
It's not a good idea to get caught up in the task of winning him over into being exclusive. Especially if you don't know if he's the right guy for you.
Create an "exclusivity" checkpoint for yourself.
After the fourth date, sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil and compare him to your list of must-haves and must nots.
If you don't have this list already, the first thing you should do after finishing the article is sit down and create it.
Having a hard tangible list of what you want in a man is probably the most important step in dating and finding the right man.
Not every guy is a good catch. and until you engage your logical rational brain, you might fall for chasing after the Wrong Guy.
Tip 7 : Are you in a long distance relationship?
Here's a special tip if you are dating someone who is more than 2 hours away.
LDRs need more time before becoming exclusive...
You should probably wait a while longer to be exclusive with someone that you meet online. Or if you're just dating someone who lives far away from you.
Long-distance relationships are some of the most challenging ones.
Take your time. There is no rush.
If he's a good catch and he sees your value, he will work at it. There's no need to jump right in with both feet.
Long distance relationships very often simulate intimacy.
What that means is that because you're so far away from him you're going to spend a lot of time thinking about him. This creates an artificial intimacy and you tend to fall in love deeper than if he were around you and you could relax.
Watch out for your anxiety over the distance. And how it might push you to move too fast.
Tip 8 : If you don't see each other at least once a week…
The truth is if you don't see each other at least once a week, you should wait a lot longer to go exclusive with him.
Because you really need concentrated time with a person to know them well. Don't assume you know enough about a guy until you've spent a long stretch of time with him.
Seeing him once every couple weeks is pretty casual. You want to get to a place where you are spending whole weekends together - because you want to. And because it feels natural.
If you're in a distance relationship, you still need to be making time for several uninterrupted hours of deep connection.
Tip 9 : Do A Trip
Ideally, you should go on at least one vacation together before you become exclusive. It's a perfect test of how well you can get along when you have to face concentrated time together.
Trips together are a good test...
If I had taken a vacation with the woman I was dating in my previous relationships, I probably would have saved myself from at least four or five bad situations.
Because you're together for a while things will come out that you normally wouldn't see.
You want to see how your habits mesh with his. You want to see where you rub against each other the wrong way. Where things get raw.
And there's no better place to simulate a long-term relationship than being stuck with the same person on a short vacation.
Just don't make the vacation too long in case things go really bad. If they go really good, enjoy it.
Tip 10 : Watch Out For TOO SOON
Perhaps the worst mistake to make is to go exclusive too soon. This can sabotage a relationship in many different ways.
You could ruin a good thing. It's better to go a little too long than too soon. If the relationship was going to take off, prematurely going exclusive could make things awkward. Just take it easy.
If you don't know the other person, going exclusive too soon could make you feel obligated to stay in the relationship longer than you should.
Relationships are like a slow cooked meal. You can't rush them. The longer you take to prepare them right, the better chance you have for success.
Tip 11 : What is TOO SOON?
Generally speaking, if you try to go exclusive within the first month that's probably too soon. Or if you try going exclusive right after you sleep together.
Which most often is the problem. Most women don't want to sleep with anyone else if they've started to sleep with one guy. So now you're forced to justify making this guy exclusive. Even if he's not a good fit.
Which is yet another reason why you must wait to sleep with him longer than just a few dates. Give yourself a window so that you can date comfortably and without weird head games.
There are a lot of dating gurus who tell you that you should do “whatever feels good.”
This is not very good advice.
Sticking to your own “rules” that work for you is always the best idea.
Tip 12 : You’ve got to know his intentions
If I were to give you one reason for waiting to become exclusive it would be this. You need to know and understand what his intentions really are. Some guys are just looking to date around. He may not be serious.
He might also have that fabled “intimacy issues” you hear about all the time.
Does he want something fun?
Does he want something more serious?
Is he unsure and perhaps trying to figure it out himself?
If you don't know the answers to these questions, you have to figure them out before you can make a decision about going exclusive earlier or later.
Take your time and figure out whether or not this guy has the same intentions you do before you make the big plunge.
Tip 13 : If he's into you, he will wait for you
This is the best justification for taking your time that I can give you.
If you rush into things, they usually end poorly. Usually very badly.
However, if you wait a little longer you will improve your chances dramatically. Because the fact is, if he's actually into you, he won't mind waiting.
And neither will you!
Patience is your best ally when it comes to dating and relationships.
Tip 14 : Be transparent with him and yourself
When it comes to declaring your intentions for the relationship, be willing to have honest communication about it. Be transparent and clear with your intentions so that he understands you clearly.
And make sure you absolutely understand where he's coming from clearly. A lot of guys use unclear communication as an excuse to push blame back on you when he decides to back out.
And be very clear with yourself about your intentions. make sure you understand yourself and what you need so that you can explain it to him in a very calm and clear voice.
You should know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what your needs are. especially before you decide to become exclusive in a relationship. You're the one who must protect you.
Tip 15 : Check in with yourself
Ask yourself: Are you ready for a committed relationship?
Make sure this is the relationship YOU want.
A lot of women assume that because they are a woman, they must be ready for a committed relationship. But this isn't always true.
There are a lot of women out there who are not ready for a committed relationship. But they convince themselves that they are - because “that’s what women do.” And then if it doesn't work out they blame the guy.
Obviously this is the worst kind of self-deception. Because it hurts you as well as him.
Really sit down and check in with yourself if you're ready for a relationship.
You might be too soon out of another relationship. Rebounding.
You might be holding on to some grief or some anger.
You might have some other family complications that will get in the way.
You might be looking to shore up your self-esteem, or just feel desired.
Whatever the reason, make sure you understand yourself first.
Tip 16 : Know what “exclusive” looks like
If you want to go exclusive it only makes sense that you should know what this will look like.
What changes will happen?
How will the relationship look after you make this big jump into exclusivity?
What are your expectations?
Here are a few of the ways that many people define being exclusive:
You will want to spend even MORE time with one another
Probably more sex… Which should be awesome - so if you find yourself pulling back from that idea, look at why!
He might meet your family and friends, and vice-versa
He's probably going to start showing up on all of your social media
You will start going to different events together - like his office parties or your office parties
You’ll both invent cute and annoying nicknames for each other
Make a list of all the other things you think being exclusive will be like.
Tip 17 : Things could change
And don't forget to make a list of all the things that will probably start to change when you do become exclusive.
You might find you're not going out as much as you used to. Maybe fewer dinners out.
What happens next?
This is usually the end of the “Honeymoon Period.” So Be sure you are ready to give up the excitement and thrills of the chase.
Which is also one of the biggest ways that things might change.
Are you ready for him to stop chasing you?
That's a very likely outcome when things get exclusive. He may start to take you for granted. And then you enter the next phase of your relationship.
Again, I have to ask you if your need to make things exclusive is for the benefit of the relationship - or your anxieties.
I get it, you want a commitment. And believe it or not, he does too.
The trick is understanding what makes a man commit to be exclusive with you instead of growing distant and pulling away.
Are you just eager to hear him say that you are his “girlfriend”?
Are you looking for some clues that tell you how he really feels about you? Because he just doesn't talk about his feelings at all?
If you felt comfortable in your relationship right now, would you even need to make things exclusive?
If you want your relationship to last the test of time, I always recommend that you make the chasing last as long as possible. Because you probably already know how the relationship feels when he stops chasing you.
Sex isn't enough to get a guy to make a commitment to you!
You can't FORCE a guy to want to be exclusive - as you may have already discovered.
The way to make a man WANT to give his heart to you - the way to make him suddenly see you in a different light and make that commitment you want so badly is...
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