What Is Exclusive Dating

Relationships A-Z
04 Jan 2024
7 min read
Defining Exclusive Dating

Many people define this area between dating and being a couple as exclusive dating. That’s not quite the same as being in an exclusive relationship. What they are trying to define here is something more than casual dating. But not exactly…

So, how do you know if that’s the right way to define things? Is being with your partner on the same page enough to state firmly you’re already in an exclusive relationship? Let’s take a deeper look at exclusive dating, what it means, and how you and your partner can best determine where your relationship stands.

What Does It Mean to Be Exclusively Dating

Dating exclusively means dating just one person with no current plans to see other people. 

For most people, dating exclusively means not sharing sexual or emotional intimacy with others. However, people who choose to practice ethical non-monogamy may blur those lines a bit while still affirming that their only true dating relationship is with the one they are dating exclusively. That’s why we’ll provide here a more nuanced definition and compare exclusively dating couples with those in an exclusive relationship and casual dating.

Related reading: ENM Relationship: What Is Ethical Non-Monogamy?

Dating Exclusively vs. Exclusive Relationship

The easiest way to contrast exclusive dating with an exclusive relationship is by looking at the signs of commitment shown while facing the same things and situations.

Exclusive relationship signs:

  • Dating each other for several months
  • Each has met the other’s friends and family
  • Both agree they are in a committed and monogamous relationship
  • Being sure the relationship will progress (even though the couple may not be completely sure how)
  • Living together or even getting married is a real possibility.

Dating exclusively signs:

  • Before seeing each other, partners were still dating multiple partners
  • Exclusivity in dating is new for both partners; they are not used to not seeing other people
  • They’ve met each other’s friends and hang out frequently
  • The real talk about bringing the relationship to the next level hasn’t happened yet
  • Going out with anybody else doesn’t feel right without a detailed conversation about it.

Even though these signs explain a lot, note there are too many variables to put every committed relationship in one box. The same goes for exclusive dating relationships. Still, both are pretty good examples of what each category looks like.

Exclusive Dating vs. Dating Casually

The main difference between exclusively dating and casual dating is the obligation to have a conversation before making any changes. For the most part, the partners involved would never start dating someone else without talking about how their current relationship is defined. Similarly, they would never assume a deeper commitment without having a conversation.

Dating casually is different. Both people are free to do what they want. There is no solid boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. So, there is no need to give a heads-up because nobody has said they want to be exclusive.

How exclusive dating looks like

8 Traits of Exclusively Dating

There’s no one and the same way to go about exclusive dating, as well as not everyone agrees to title such things as “dating exclusively.”As each pair gets on the same page, their situation will evolve into whatever rules and expectations naturally come about or what they agree to. These are just a few common characteristics of exclusive dating:

  1. You have a regular night out
  2. You usually spend a lot of casual time together
  3. Each of you is the other’s presumed plus one
  4. You hang out with each other’s friends
  5. Meeting the family is optional
  6. Birthday and holiday gifts are expected – not too intimate, though
  7. Any relationship changes require a conversation
  8. Your partner is the first to hear the big news

Related reading: A Guide to Growing an Exclusive Relationship

7 Rules and Expectations for Getting on the Same Page About Exclusive Dating

Just because two people are in a romantic relationship doesn’t mean they have the same thoughts about whether it’s dating or exclusive. They have to have that infamous define the relationship conversation. Otherwise, one partner may want or expect something different. Then they feel hurt when that isn’t what happens. This is a tough conversation when one person wants to be exclusive and move towards marriage while the other isn’t ready for that. It’s so important to talk and agree on where things stand.

At this stage in a relationship, both of you need to establish ground rules. That starts with both of you agreeing on what exclusive means. Here are some other rules and expectations you might talk about for exclusive dating.

1. Communication Is a Must

When it comes to being in an exclusive relationship, it is important to be clear in terms of communication. Open talks help you and your partner lay out your honest feelings in hopes that you can have a relaxing life with each other. They also help you develop a stronger bond when you are spending time with each other and putting a focus on just talking.

2. Boundaries Need to Be Clear

Boundaries exist in all relationships, and for good reason. They especially help in exclusive relationships where your romantic focus is placed on a single partner – because this way, it becomes easy to forget or even ignore each other’s boundaries. By remembering to respect boundaries as well as being clear about them, you help maintain a healthy connection with your partner.

Related reading: Boundaries in Relationships – Keeping Them Healthy

3. Make Time for Each Other

When talking about a monogamous relationship (be that exclusive relationships or dating), it is important to always make time for the person you are in the actual relationship with, in addition to seeing friends and maintaining hobbies. You should keep the intimacy between you and your partner high by always making sure you have some time for them.

This could mean setting aside 30 minutes a day in order to call them and ask them about their day. It can also be a good way to improve your physical intimacy by scheduling one day a week in order to take them out on a date or just spend time with each other personally.

4. Be Ready to Get Along With Each Other’s Friends and Family

Remember that not every exclusive relationship partner is going to love your friends absolutely. Neither such a relationship means they will get along amazingly with your family members. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to be cordial with them. Or at least try to connect with you on this level, not just by physical intimacy.

5. Problems Should Be Discussed Right Away

When it comes to talking about problems, it is important to talk about them immediately. This advice comes in handy for partners who try to grow an exclusive relationship by meeting on dating apps.

Even if you think the issue is minuscule or that you’re overreacting to it, it will not help you or that other person if you just stew on it. Deal with it quickly. It’s best practice because if you don’t, it grows into an even bigger issue and a more uncomfortable conversation in the future.

6. Issues Outside of the Relationship Remain Outside

Of course you should be able to talk about your problems. But before you start, beware that the issues happening outside of your relationship may cause actual problems in your relationship. This should not be a thing, especially when it has nothing to do with the exclusive relationship you and the other person are in.

If you’re angry because you’re not in some inside jokes at your place of work, you should not get angry or start fights with your partner because of that issue. You can rant to them. But overall, it should be up to you to solve the issue on your own time without getting them involved.

7. No Dating Anyone Else – for Real!

“It’s a good sign but rare instance when, in a relationship, you find that the more you learn about the other person, the more you continue to desire them. A sturdy bond delights in that degree of youthful intrigue. Love loves its youth.”

Criss Jami, author

In an exclusive relationship, exclusive dating should be a fairly obvious boundary to set. However, there are some things people claiming to be in an exclusive relationship may do… So, it’s better to articulate this condition and set a strict rule.

Things you have a right not to tolerate:

  • Downloading a dating app again and claiming it’s because they are curious
  • Seeing they’ve lost interest in you as a partner but don’t want to break up
  • Acting inappropriately with another person and thinking it doesn’t count because they don’t see it as romantic or wrong.

When you are in an exclusive relationship with a person, then that means you need to be loyal to each other. You should not have to worry about your connection. And if you are not sure, your relationship is probably not as exclusive as you think.

Related reading: 16 Sure Signs Your Man Is Losing Interest

Exclusive relationships through generations

Dating Exclusively and Generations

There is nothing new about the decision to date exclusively. Relationships have evolved that way practically forever. What’s new is that Gen Z has really been the first to acknowledge and somewhat define what exclusive dating means. It’s part of the trend of this generation embracing rather than denying gray areas in dating, such as situationships.

Does that mean the term and its definition should be dismissed as a silly trend or fad? Absolutely not. What this generation has done is more clearly articulated what this level of commitment means. That just makes it easier for couples to communicate about where they are and how they might decide to change things in the future. This avoids hurt feelings and misunderstandings. It also encourages both people to be honest.

It also kicks the notion that every meaningful relationship must be headed toward marriage to the curb. People are allowed to love each other, be intimate, be exclusive, and not be sure if they want a long-term relationship. A relationship can be meaningful even if there is no clear intention to marry.

Finally, because this relationship stage does come with some ground rules, it works as a bit of a proving ground if two people eventually want an exclusive relationship.

Are You Ready for an Exclusive Relationship?

After you exclusively date someone for a while, you might wonder if it’s time for a committed relationship. You’ve already made things exclusive for the most part. This is taking the next step and committing to your partner on a deeper level. You don’t have to rush into this. Both of you can follow your own timeline. However, you will eventually have to agree to a relationship commitment, keep things the way they are, or move on to a relationship that meets your needs. Then, if you decide to move forward you will need to commit to making that relationship grow.

Love&Sex Expert
Cherie Hamilton
I’ve always been inspired by women who are outgoing, very sure of themselves, and not afraid to be who they were, including their sex lives. Under their tutelage, I gradually shed my old self, hung out and socialized with them, and, over time, became the empowered, self-confident, and sexual woman I am today. Happy to share my insights with other women today!
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