A Guide to Growing an Exclusive Relationship

Relationship Rules
11 Apr 2023
10 min read
When Are You Ready for an Exclusive Relationship?

When you’ve been seeing someone for a while, it sounds natural that your relationship will grow toward a stronger commitment and monogamy, or an exclusive relationship. But how to know you’re ready and get rid of that anxiety-inducing question, “What will it be?” in your head? Let’s take a closer look at this mainstream type of relationships for your mental health and better understanding in which direction things are growing.

What Does an Exclusive Relationship Mean?

In basic terms, being in an exclusive relationship means that you’re committed to your partner. This means that you can’t date or see other people and remain monogamous.In this scenario, each of you must agree that you’re on the same page. Such an agreement will also define some of the things you have to give up, new responsibilities, and firmer boundaries.

For example, a couple that decides to be exclusive frequently stops using dating apps. Also, they cannot be in touch with their exes or people who have feelings for them, saving all the effort and energy growing and maintaining their healthy exclusive relationship.

But how do you know when you’re ready for this level of commitment? It should come naturally. If you enjoy spending time with a person and your feelings get stronger and more certain with time, you might not desire other people. As your feelings get deeper, you will want your relationship to be exclusive, meaning you’ll have to talk about it with your partner.

Between dating and an actual relationship, there’s often this gray zone where you’re both uncertain of what you want, and you would love to know where you stand.

Related reading: Coloring the Grey Zone – Is Flirting Cheating?

Understand the Difference

There are hundreds of labels used in the romantic world, so it’s easy to get confused by all the titles getting thrown around. It is very important to understand what the terms “dating exclusively” and “an exclusive relationship” mean. This helps to ensure you both want the same thing by choosing exclusivity.

Exclusively dating is a situation where you both acknowledge each other, and there might be an unspoken understanding that you’re only seeing each other. You are spending a lot of time together, and this might be the stepping stone from a casual relationship.

An exclusive relationship means that you have had the conversation, and each person is satisfied with the idea of settling with one individual. When you date exclusively, the relationship is official, and you can now face your romantic future as a couple.

Having the Talk

Once you start questioning the purpose and intention of your relationship, you might be ready to be exclusive. But for this to work out, you must have an honest conversation with your partner about what they feel and expect from exclusive dating.

This conversation is very important because the people involved get to agree that they enjoy each other’s company. Exclusive relationships mean that they are not seeing anyone else. Before you get into a serious relationship, you’ll have to evaluate your feelings about each other to ensure that you’re both on the same page about what an exclusive commitment means.

Most people are afraid of having this talk because they are afraid of putting too much pressure on their partners and relationships. Other than clarity, this intimate conversation allows you to make bolder and braver steps. It’s also wise to have an honest talk about what dating exclusively means for you and your future.

It is advisable to raise the exclusivity issue after you’ve been going out for a few weeks or months and not just after you meet a new person. Give yourself enough time to know each other and explore your feelings.

“Communication is what keeps couples on the same page and feeling like they are solving problems together rather than against one another.”

Sarah Epstein, a licensed marriage and family therapist

If you grow closer and start to get more emotionally invested, it might be time to bump your relationship to the exclusive level. Other signs that you’re ready to start dating exclusively include having boyfriend and girlfriend titles for each other and introducing your partner to your family.

The exclusivity conversation will directly influence your current feelings and any future plans you might have. Suppose you think you’re ready to upgrade to a committed relationship. In that case, you should feel comfortable discussing the issue with your significant other.

Start an exclusive relationship with a deep talk

How to Start a Conversation about Getting Exclusive

Relationships are often a scary topic to approach, but you cannot ignore it or keep pushing it back. So, all you have to do is take a deep breath and relax. While there’s no way to predict how a person might respond, you can control how you react regardless of the outcome. How you ask the question will set the tone for the conversation. It also determines how much effort you’ll be willing to invest in your exclusive relationship.

It’s okay if your partner says they are not ready for an exclusive relationship. Always listen to what they have to say, and respect their decisions about the status of the relationship.

If they are interested in exclusive dating, clearly define and lay out the boundaries for your relationship. While it’s tempting to just assume that you guys are exclusive, verbally confirming your stand will help you avoid unnecessary hurt and disappointment.

Getting exclusive means a lot more responsibilities in your relationships. To get ready for an exclusive relationship, you might have to realign your priorities severally. You are both stepping into a possible long term relationship and the thought of a shared future.

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8 Signs that You’re Ready to be Exclusive

The best dating advice is to take everything slow. What does being exclusive mean to you, and are you ready to put in the effort? It is a bold step toward building a healthy and stable long term relationship. So, once you’re getting into an exclusive relationship, make sure it’s especially rewarding for you.

1. You Are Spending a Lot of Time Together

This is the first indicator that you’re ready to bump your relationship status to exclusive. When someone is taking up a significant amount of your time, it means that you enjoy quality time together. Such a commitment will help you guys bond more.

2. You’ve Had a Conflict Before and Resolved It

You can tell how long a relationship will last by how you handle the small fights and disagreements at the beginning of any relationship. If you’ve managed to crawl out of disagreements several times, it’s an indicator that you can both figure out a way to stay together.

3. Your Partner Falls Into All Your Plans

When you think about your life ten years ahead, who is the person beside you? Do you make plans with them that are a few months or years away? Which role do they play in them?

Find that your partner is constantly getting woven into your future. You two might be ready to be exclusive partners in a serious relationship.

4. You Have Lost Interest in Other People

A casual relationship allows you to interact with other people freely, without restrictions or boundaries about emotional or physical intimacy. When you want to be exclusive, you lose any romantic interest in other people. You don’t want to invest time, effort, or attention in casual dating. You would rather invest more in the current relationship.

5. You Are Introducing Your Partner to All Aspects of Your Life

When you want to be exclusive with someone, you’ll make an effort to include them more in your life. You’ll introduce them to your family and meet each other’s friends.

6. You Make Each Other a Priority

When your relationship status changes to exclusive, it means that you’re both working hard to maintain a healthy relationship and work on your emotional intimacy. You spend a lot of time together and pay attention to your partner and their needs.

7. You Constantly Talk About Your Future

You’ve had a conversation about your future together. This can include topics such as moving in together, getting married, or having kids/pets.

8. You No Longer Need to Use Dating Apps

When you get exclusive with someone, you lose all your needs or the services offered on dating sites. You are fulfilled by your partner, and you don’t feel the need to use your dating profile.

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Signs You’re Not Ready to Be Exclusive

While there might be pressure to upgrade to an exclusive relationship, there is no need to rush your dating life if you are unsure. Here are some signs that your partner might not be interested in an exclusive relationship:

  • You are not a priority in their life, and they will rarely involve you in their plans
  • They are not in a hurry to introduce you to their family and friends
  • They still have an active dating app profile and want to be involved with other people
  • They are still hang up on a person from their past
  • They have an unpredictable communication pattern
  • The person is always emotionally distant

Talk to your partner about it if you feel like you’re not ready to be exclusive. While it might hurt your partner at the beginning, it will be the right thing to do even in the long run.

It’s a Great Decision for Your Mental Health

Once you decide to get into a full-fledged relationship, you get to experience more calm and relief because you already know where you stand. You don’t have to stress about your role in someone’s life or have any doubts about their feelings.

The same applies to when your partner says they are not ready to get exclusive. It frees you to date other people, and it saves you from the hurt of being led on. You also never have to worry about investing in a relationship that might not pan out in the end. Being honest with yourself allows the other person to be vulnerable with you too.

Relationships Author
Geoffrey Williams
After taking a required Intro to Psychology course as an undergrad, I have never looked back. Since my doctoral program, I have specialized in adult relationship therapy. Through my studies and clinicals, I wrote several articles for professional journals and currently in the midst of writing a book.
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