When to Go Exclusive

I've been thinking about doing a Take on this topic for quite some time. I've seen some people do everything right - approaching confidently, communicating well, planning and going on great dates only to trip and fall before reaching the finish line, which in this case is clinching an exclusive relationship.

Now of course, every situation is different so you'll need to use your judgement and make adjustments, but what I'll discuss here should give you some food for thought.

1. Bring up the TOPIC when YOU are ready

When to Go Exclusive

Many of us overanalyze and don't want to make big moves until we are sure someone is interested to the point they're ready to go steady. Sometimes it will be blatantly obvious, but most of the time there will be some element of uncertainty or we're simply oblivious. That can't be allowed to be the tail wagging the dog- fortune favors the bold when it comes to getting a partner.

2. Do not wait too long to ask about exclusivity

When to Go Exclusive

The other person is going to be wondering what you really want. Do you just want to casually date them if you keep going on dates but nothing concrete materializes? Or do you want something serious? what happens if someone more decisive comes along and asks them to go exclusive and they aren't sure where they stand with you? Sure, they should say something, but you can always count on that. My personal rule of thumb is after 2-3 dates I am ready to broach the subject.

3. Don't forget that you are probably not the only person with whom they're going on dates

When to Go Exclusive

This is especially applicable to online dating, but also to someone you've met IRL. They are in the market and until they go exclusive with one person, you can't assume you're the only person they are dating. It's generally not wise to put your eggs in one basket until you're absolutely sure, and then you want to make sure that person doesn't get away by asking them to go exclusive as soon as you're sure you want to.

4. You cannot expect exclusivity without specifically discussing it

When to Go Exclusive

I recently heard that one young lady was shocked to hear on the fifth date that the guy had been out with another woman the night before and she ended things right then and there although he had looked promising. I think that was an overreaction- she should have asked for exclusivity if she was that enamored of him. Note that you don't necessarily have to make it an official relationship that you broadcast on social media at this particular juncture- you can simply suggest that you both forego dating other people because you are serious about each other and want to focus on each other.

5. Don't be reticent about communicating exactly what it is you want or expect in a relationship

When to Go Exclusive

The other person may come from a different background and/or have different expectations or a different understanding of your dating. Don't leave things to chance- clearly communicate your desires.

6. You don't necessarily have to get the timing exactly right

When to Go Exclusive

Don't hesitate because you think you need to ask at exactly the right time- there may be none.The other person may be as uncertain about your intentions as you are about theirs and you and may be waiting for you to take the lead. Someone has to do it- let it be you! Most of all, don't fear failure- this person likes you or they wouldn't be on a third or fourth date with you.

I hope this helps some of you a bit.

When to Go Exclusive
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Most Helpful Guys

  • SteveSmith1985
    I agree with you overall. The exclusivity conversation is so key. So many people get hurt by screwing around with this. I actually push friends of mine to have this conversation as soon as possible. As soon as it makes sense. Basically as soon as "if they went out with someone else, you'd be hurt" to me that's when to have that conversation.

    The biggest problem people have with this. Is that their chicken. People are so scared to take that risk and ask... and worry... and wonder.. about timing... but really to me, it's a "sooner the better" conversation.

    I generally like to put my cards on the table, because the other person usually does te same.

    So even if it were early on and you're pretty sure she's seeing other people too. I would just straight-up throw it out there if I thought we had really hit it off that: I really liked her, I would like to be exclusive.

    If you startle people with just open honesty, they usually are quite honest back. Just make sure your ready for that.

    Personally I'm reckless as hell with how soon I'll have that talk. I just put my cards on the table. Because yea it's a risk, but not as much of a risk as NOT having that exclusivity talk. As sure as I'm sure I have feelings strong enough to want to be exclusive, you gotta protect yourself. Can't get mad at someone for failing to meet an expectation they never agreed to (or even knew was an expectation).

    An exclusivity talk is like an agreement on expectations. You each agree to be accountable to the other for your actions and know what's expected of you and what you're entitled to expect from the other person in terms of loyalty, time and whatnot.

    Exclusivity talks should be EXPLICIT not sexually, but detailed. There should be nothing unclear, nothing unsaid... with words... OUT LOUD. You both need to know what you're agreeing to exactly.

    . In my opinion, once you know that's what you want... better get to talking about it. Having some balls and taking the risk a little early, isn't going to go nearly as bad as waiting longer than you should, have and having to hear about (what you think of as your girl) is going out with some guy this weekend...

    No thanks, if she's "mine" in my mind/heart... I need let her know, and make sure that she's ok with that... otherwise... you're going to get hurt... or at least worry and stress. Don't do that to yourself. just taking a little risk, will save a lot of bullshit. A LOT.
    Great MyTake
    Is this still revelant?
    • Avicenna

      Fantastic response, and I agree 100%. Be the one in control by asking for exclusivity rather than worrying about who else they may be dating or talking to- it's irrelevant when you seize control of the situation.

    • Thanks! I just wish I could edit that atrocious spelling.

    • Avicenna

      Happens to me too when I post using my phone!

  • talloak
    A good take. You bring balance to the two extremes of overthinking when is exactly the right time to bring the question up (which tends to miss the right time), and not thinking about it at all (which definitely misses the right time). I'm a big believer in honesty, which in this case is letting the other know where you stand in their regard. The question is not as sensitive as the proper time to say "I love you", but it is similar. The exclusive question is less loaded and more negotiable. It's also good practice for the timing of "I love you".
    Is this still revelant?

Most Helpful Girls

  • Pessiyama10
    I totally agree with this given the current dating culture, where people date multiple people at a time. This is quite informative and a form of advice for someone like me. I am capable of dating only person at a time, so I guess I should bring up the exclusivity thing early on. Very informative
    Is this still revelant?
    • Avicenna

      Thank you. I'm glad you found it useful.

  • ariadneR
    I like this. Very good points. I definitely think that you both have to talk about it, see if you're on the same page.
    Is this still revelant?

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • OlderAndWiser
    The main takeaway from this is that, if you want an exclusive relationship, be assertive in trying to establish that status as soon as you feel ready for it. Your show of assertiveness may be the final factor that makes her say yes to dating exclusively.

    I wholeheartedly agree.
  • ManOnFire
    I think this is a great Take, man. You even mentioned a few things that I honestly don't really think about but now I will. I do have to say I never liked the idea that she may be dating other people while I might be interested in her too. I'm not sure what I think about that. But I do know you made some good points in this.
  • Knighted2170
    I can relate to this. It's a topic I mention repeatedly on my show. The way I approach this is rather simple.
    Sometime within the first few dates ask what the other person is looking for in a relationship. Know what their goal is.
    If they are looking for short term "let's just have fun" type of relationship then going exclusive really isn't in the cards. It also won't work if you want something short, but they are hoping for something more long term or committed.

    Another thing to keep in mind is knowing what each of you is looking for. Not only in terms of the type of relationship but also the character traits the other person has. When these align then becoming exclusive makes sense to both of you, and it doesn't "just happen" or "become expected". Worst yet they assume that both of you are already exclusive.

    Really, all of this should be figured out in the first few months. Don't be scared to lay out what you are looking for and what your goals are. Filter the people you meet. Do they want the same thing? Are they someone you want to know better, or just a fun person you enjoy spending time with?
    In my experience, it saves a lot of time and heartache for both of us. It makes the decision process to go exclusive, and when to bring it up, a whole lot easier.
  • TheFlak38
    Going exclusive is something only a woman decides today. Women have all the power in relationships. Themoment a man brings up the topic she perceives it as weakness and doubles down with the shittests. From then on it all goes downhill. Until she has banged a billion dicks and reached the big ThreeZero there is no such thing as going exclusive.
  • womanoflife
    Honestly I think anywhere from 1-3 months after going on multiple dates is an okay point to become exclusive. You don’t really know someone after 3 dates and rushing into it is how we end up in toxic relationships especially with narcissists (they love and cling to people wanting to make it official immediately. Beware.) but if you’re looking for a healthy relationship taking your time will help you immensely in the long run. Also grows your connection too.
    • Avicenna

      While the idea of taking your time like that sounds appealing, I think in practice unless that person for some reason doesn't have any good options other than you that they'll end up with someone else who's been more decisive, especially if we're talking about 2-3 months after your initial dates.

  • Screenwriter
    Great my take! Ask for what you want up front. Jesus said it first! Ask and you shall receive, knock and the door shall be opened! Doesn't mean the door with that specific person won't get closed... but another door will be opened with someone you move on to. By the second or third date if you continue to see someone, that needs to be put out there right away.
  • alice55
    In my country when you begin flirting you're supposed to be exclusive cause if not it mean you aren't serious and the others person lose interest in you (think you're a fuckboy or slut).
    We don't have talk of exclusivity here. Never.
    • I do not know where you are from, but I wish more people followed that concept. It would make dating SO much easier

    • alice55

      @Cynicaldreamer I'm from France and yes that make it easier though not everybody follow it

    • Screenwriter

      In US, loads of people keep three of four irons in the fire at once instead of seeing how one person at a time works out. The "just in case one drops off, I've got two others," scenario...

    • Show All
  • Lavinnykins
    I 100% whole-heartedly agree with this. Although you've said about the main timings and signs, you've also made it clear that sometimes it doesn't work out that way - by the book so to speak - and that is 100% okay too. When my boyfriend and I became exclusive, there was no rel conversation about it... We went climbing for our first date and ice skating for our second; I had told him I was talking to a number of guys and had a lot of dates lined up for that coming week. As we were skating on our second date, he was telling me about his friends and every single one came up as a 'x & y' or 'this person & that person'. Eventually I just said to him 'Everyone you've mentioned is in a relationship; is there something you want to say?' and he just blurted out 'WILLYOUBEMYGIRLFRIEND?' and here we are nearly a year later. Sometimes the happy ending just comes unexpectedly but you know when it's time.
    • Avicenna

      That actually worked out well, and you're absolutely right that it usually doesn't go according to script.

  • ArrowheadSW
    Several years ago, I was dating a lady for about 2 months. I didn't realize that she was reconciling with an ex while we were dating, and then she split up with me to go back to him. I was heartbroken but then again, I really should have discussed exclusivity with her if that is what I wanted.
  • ShadezMcgee
    Good take, especially with the concept of casually dating others and not putting all your eggs in one basket. Learned that the hard way.

    From my understanding it is the woman's job to bring up the exclusive question "Where is this going? What are we?" If men di that, it seems to push women away. In that note, I believe it takes 6 to 8 weeks to get to the exclusive point after going on multiple dates and screening the woman's potential for what you are looking for.
  • DiegoO
    Yeah, well, that's a complicated topic. I am sure what you wrote is spot on in the country or the place you live, however, every country is a different world. In other countries is different. For example, in my country, if you are already dating someone that usually means you are already exclusive. We don't go dating different persons, we date 1 at a time.
    • DiegoO

      With the online relation, I had, there was a necessity to clarify things. We were far, far apart and personally as someone who had non-serious online relations before I knew my LD ex, I had to know in what I was stepping in.

      We both agree it was gonna be serious.

  • Thank you for your insight into this stage of relationships. I'm inexperienced in this so I appreciate your effort in composing this.
    • Avicenna

      No prob, and I'm happy to help you if you have any further questions. Feel free to PM.

  • sagevalentineee
    Obviously I think people can do what they want. I have best friend who's probably slept with half the city, he's not interested in exclusivity.

    For me, I'm not interested in casual dating. What? Spend time and energy and effort on a person who you're not sure that you like? No way! When a man asks me on a date, if I say yes, I will say no to everyone else. If I go on a date with Alex on Thursday and Charles on Saturday... there's just something wrong with that! If I were to do this, I would feel I owe it to Alex to let him know what's happening. And he'd feel that I am completely untrustworthy and not interested in him. And that's not who I am.
    • meesegoMoo

      Glad some still think this way. I think it also sets the tone later on. Two timing men get married and their wives still seem surprised they've be cheating the whole time.

  • no1else
    I'm Irish. Exclusivity is pretty much an automatic right in anything lasting 3 hook ups unless otherwise specified. Much easier.
  • midnightmoon05
    Well written MyTake.
    I like the idea that you want to find out if they are dating around and let them know the importance of just focusing on the current devleopement between the two.
    So many play the field and one can get hurt easily from not knowing early on.

    All my serious relationships, the guy wanted me right away and told me how disappointed they were with other girls they dated.
    However, I have had one that threw me off the wall when I found out that was not the case even after we have been dating over 6 months.
    Live and learn I guess.
  • suzysuzy
    Good points. I feel most guy ask for this too soon though at least in my experience. I've had 3 guys who expected exclusivity after 2 or 3 dates. Now I don't typically date more than one person at a time anyways but the discussion of exclusivity to me is something you wait with until you really know each other because otherwise you can't truly know you'd be compatible at all. Things can be great even 3 dates in and then suddenly after a month you realize you're actually very incompatible. Deciding to be exclusive to me is the same as agreeing to enter a relationship and entering a relationship after 3 dates when you hardly know each other if anything is not very serious to me but on the other hand comes off more as desperate.
    • soleil2666

      Do you not consider the relationship finished once the person you are dating 'cheats'?
      It doesn't feel like the grapes have been soured?

    • suzysuzy

      @soleil2666 I don't know what that has to do with anything I wrote as i'm talking about the time when you've just started dating and aren't exclusive? But yeah of course I feel that way. Cheating is not something that can be forgiven and forgotten in my opinion. But if you're not exclusive then there is no such thing as cheating. Sure I wouldn't feel great about it if I knew someone I was dating and interested in was also actively seeing others but i'd probably not do much about it until I feel I know him well enough to wanna commit to a relationship and up until that point you're both single.

    • soleil2666

      If you take the emotional to matter - just the fact you are TRYING with someone else is INFIDELITY to the first person you dated.
      I know in the States it seems accepted, sort of like job hunting - but you end up high on the experience, not necessarily one person. I don't know - it might work if all sides accept it that way (so, basically, speed-dating) - I keep finding that unless intentionality is there you get seen as unreliable no matter how reliable you intend to be (or are underneath)
      That level of liberalism could be implied to mean you'd end the relationship just as easily - and if it had led to children, you'd be stripping them off of having a complete/fully functional family.

      In return, as far as psychology goes - both the father's and the mother's presence and role model (in a good loving team-work type setting) are required to raise fully functional/mentally healthy (and resilient) adults.

  • sjoes006
    Yeah, I don't know it’s definitely crucial to have the conversation, it doesn’t have to be a drawn out conversation. A brief confirmation is usually enough unless you aren’t on the same page.

    We’ve usually been exclusive for at least a few weeks or so before the convo even comes up. We are obviously clicking and there is no need to be seeing other people because we like what we have going on.

    I guess with online dating this may not always be the case. Some people aren’t looking for a relationship, just got out of a relationship and are simply looking for a plus one.

    I can only think of one incident where this was the case and we were really clicking. In that instance it was better that we just parted ways. There was nothing that would have changed the situation. It was either an issue of timing, chemistry not being strong enough to change it or both.

    No harm, no foul but definitely glad the conversation came up.
  • lenlenxyz
    Great mytake! And one of THE best advice I've ever read in the interweb! This guy has been basically interested in me ever since we've met and he's basically have made it known and kept pursuing me. But I just act like nothing's really happening until I see a consistent pattern. Also, I don't read minds and I don't have the time to do that mumbo jumbo that girls do when they overanalyze the situation with the guy they have a crush on. So basically, if the guy likes me he's gna have to man up and take the lead and I'll follow suit. Also trying to see if he can get to my level or not. And now, he's basically making it more and more aware that he wants me to be his girlfriend. I just want him to admit first, and then I'll be satisfied. hehe I'm just the kind of person. haha
    • lenlenxyz

      Also adding on to my reply, I do like how this guy is approaching me just because he is making it known to me that he wants to have a girlfriend especially since when I'm around or in the room and he's basically staring at me when he says it. Also basically saying that he wants to be exclusive and he's just not in it for the sex. I only know that he doesn't want me for the sex because we haven't hooked up yet.

  • ShadowofRegret
    That is very good advice that I think many would do well to heed.
  • Jjpayne
    Those are some good pointers! Thanks for sharing
  • Guffrus
    Just be open and honest about what you want.
  • Manuel2
    Even on her or your worse days, you can only think of your partner to make you feel better
  • JP_Man
    Well 2-3 dates is quite fast I would say minimum 2-3 months. I think you forgot to mention age as well. Don't go exclusive too young.
  • luvstoned4him
    Good points, thanks
  • btbc92
    Pretty on point.
  • Kayla45
    Interesting and informative mytake.
  • Aiasis
  • Massageman
    Yup. It all rests with #4- discuss it!
  • 😊👍
  • Rosabelle98
    Thank you😇