What’s the definition of an exclusive relationship?
Are you ready to be exclusive? Here’s what the term really means and how best to have the all-important conversation
Hanging out. Dating. Seeing each other. There are so many different relationship stages now, and so many ways to define a relationship, that things can get muddled easily. That’s why deciding to become exclusive is one of the most meaningful.
In the simplest terms, being exclusive can be defined as an agreement between two people that neither of them is romantically pursuing other partners.
This doesn’t mean that you’re automatically in a relationship or that you have to start using the terms boyfriend or girlfriend. Exclusive is a self-contained dating stage.
What’s important is that the decision to be exclusive is mutual and that what you both mean by the term is agreed.
How to have the conversation
Not everyone feels the need to define their relationships. Many people believe that labelling things puts undue pressure on a new romance. Others worry it could seem like they’re pushy. In reality, having a conversation about being exclusive is brave – and it’s the only way you can really find out where you stand.
Don’t rush it; you don’t need to have the conversation after just two or three dates. Typically, this is a discussion that needs to happen a few weeks or months into a new relationship. It’s at this point that you’ve started to get to know each other properly and understand whether there’s potential for your romance to go the distance.
Choose an appropriate time and place. The exclusive conversation isn’t one you want to have drunkenly on a night out or during an argument. And never assume the other person will feel the same. It’s best to frame it as a question, ‘Do you think we should stop seeing other people?’, rather than a statement, ‘I want to be exclusive.’
And if the response isn’t positive, be grateful that you’ve found out how they feel now rather than later. It’s always better to ask rather than assume. If they don’t feel the same, then you can choose to continue pursuing a casual relationship or end things and find someone that does want the same things as you.
What does being ‘exclusive’ really mean?
When you decide to be exclusive with someone, it’s important to be honest about what that means to you. Taking that step should allow you both to acknowledge your feelings, make an initial commitment, and agree to treat one another with respect.
For many couples, being exclusive doesn’t automatically mean you’re in a relationship. They may not be comfortable calling you their boyfriend or girlfriend. Don’t be disheartened if they see it as the step before making a larger commitment. Think of it like starting a new job; being exclusive is the trial period before you graduate to the full-time job – a full-blown relationship.