Exclusive vs relationship

Exclusive Dating Vs. A Relationship

Everything's going fine and dandy in your dating life until the dreaded question no one wants to ask—“So, like, what are we?”—rears its ugly head.

Sound familiar? Maybe your current situationship comes to mind, or perhaps the person you’ve been FWB with since senior year of college. What about your airport crush who you just future-tripped your third child’s name with while waiting for your flight? (Just kidding about that last one—kind of.)

But seriously, it’s a critical conversation for to have, especially if you’re hoping to progress past uncertainty into a satisfying relationship. But in 2022, the “define the relationship” conversation is more confusing than ever before—so it makes sense that not everyone has the concept mastered.

Take Love Island UK and USA, for example—while they’re still in the “getting to know each other” stage, they often start their exclusivity conversations by tiptoeing around the dang question, asking stuff like, "Well, would you be open if a new person came in, or not so much?"

“People get so tripped up these days with ‘label aversion,’" says Lisa Concepcion, relationship expert and founder of LoveQuestCoaching. “They tiptoe around one another, wondering if they’re dating, dating exclusively, or are in a relationship.”

Relationship ambiguity can be mind-boggling. It helps if you have a clear intention about your life and dating style, Concepcion says, so you can go into flings or relationships with clarity on what you’re looking for from it. Regardless of how you feel about putting a label on it, you want to be on the same page about what’s going on and the appropriate boundaries involved (like, dating-app usage and sex with other people).

If you’re confused about where you stand with a romantic partner or are nearing the “what are we?” stage of your courtship, no need to send up the SOS when you're trying to DTR. Here's everything you need to know about exclusive dating, including how long you should feel things out before asking about a label, how to have that conversation, and what to do if it goes wrong.

What does exclusive dating really mean?

“Simply put, dating exclusively means both people are only focused on one another. They’re not juggling other people,” Concepcion says.

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Your goal is to be committed to each other in a monogamous relationship, but you still want to test drive things out a bit longer. Ya know, just to be sure. It’s also a lot less pressure than throwing a label on things right away.

You’re continuing to get to know one another, and you're putting the same amount of time and energy into doing so, without distractions from any other potential suitors. After all, you gotta make sure the other person is okay with sleeping with the fan on or your strict reality TV schedule. The main thing is, you see potential and are mutually willing to work toward a future to see if you're truly compatible.

This exclusive-dating process means your lives are starting to become naturally more entwined. Maybe you start hanging out with their friend group regularly on weekends, or you bookmark a funny meme to send them later because it reminded you of a shared experience.

You’ve likely lost interest in your work crush, and if a dating app is still on your phone, you haven't touched it in weeks. And when you make it onto their Instagram story—or even more telling, their main feed—it’s a sign things are becoming exclusive.

All that said, exclusive dating does not mean that this person is your significant other. That role requires legit responsibilities and a shifting of priorities—namely, putting your bond together before other commitments.

Oh, and while you're at it: Exclusive dating isn't something you want to assume or infer is happening. Even if you're ~so sure~ that you’re both only interested in each other, it’s still a good idea to have an actual (out-loud) conversation about it, when you’re comfortable. Trust your intuition, but know that hearing is way more reassuring.

Ah, okay. So how is that different from a relationship again?

An actual monogamous relationship takes exclusivity a step further, when you can commit to a future with this person.

“When it shifts into a relationship, there’s a focus on the longer term,” Concepcion says. “There’s a desire to get on the same page about bigger life goals, such as living arrangements, finances, family, career goals, and anything requiring true partnership.”

Of course, these life elements take some time to build up to, as well. It’s not like you’ll be moving in on day one, but by the time you're in an established relationship with this person, you could see it down the line.

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You also should feel more comfortable in your skin and willing to share more of yourself and your time with this person—since, ya know, you've made a commitment to them.

When coupledom is on the horizon, it's likely bae starts asking you to spend way more nights over their place, even on (gasp) work nights, or (bigger gasp) wants you to meet their parents.

And if this person becomes the first or second call you want to make to share exciting personal news or crushing developments, that’s a sign that you might be ready to take the leap.

Either way, at the end of the day, you need to verbally communicate what you want to the person you're dating to see if they're on the same swoon-level page as you.

How long should you exclusively date before getting into a relationship?

Well, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. “Don't we wish there was the magic answer for that?” says Maryanne Comaroto, PhD, a relationship psychologist.Generally, though, she advises dating for about 90 days—give or take—depending on your sitch.

“Ninety days is usually when you've had a chance to rupture and repair with someone, meaning you've run into some bumps,” she says. “You're kind of at the cusp of a little bit of the honeymoon phase, you've gotten to know who this person is, you see how they act with people in restaurants, and they've met a friend or two of yours.”

But Comaroto also believes that relationships are too complex with too many variables to guarantee that this specific amount of time will work for everyone, so you should feel empowered to begin making that transition into coupledom on your own timeline.

On the flip side, if you think your relationship is moving too fast, here are some signs to watch out for:

I think I'm ready—how do I make the transition from dating exclusively to being in a relationship?

It’s game time. So how do you get from point A to point B, without breaking out in hives or ghosting the person, because OMG suddenly “the talk” feels way too overwhelming. Being vulnerable? Yikes.

“A lot of people are great at dating exclusively but then get a bit freaked out when a relationship goes deeper with a focus on merging lives,” Concepcion says. But the transition doesn't need to be scary. “It can be made through a spirit of curiosity and collaboration.” Translation: Open communication is key.

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While at dinner, let them know how happy you've been with the way things are going, and—yes, this requires vulnerability—you think there's something real here. You can wait for them to respond before taking the convo deeper—but don't be afraid to tell them how you really feel about them and your connection.

You could also try a more casual approach: "Hey, I've been so happy with things lately that I've found myself gushing about you to my friends. But I don't know what I should be calling you—what do you think?"

Either way, as long as you're honest about what you want, you're that much closer to getting it.

Uh, scary! What if I'm not ready for "the talk"?

Rejection sucks. I know. But take it from an expert: Concepcion says the strongest thing you can do is claim your power when it comes to dating.

You deserve to get what you want and need out of a relationship, especially since it’s something you’re spending so much emotional energy on. “The most self-loving thing anyone can do is communicate where they are in life and what they want,” Concepcion says.

So even if the thought of taking the next step toward love with another person scares the bejesus out of you, at least you'll be showering yourself in the type of affection that matters most: yours.

What should I do if the DTR convo goes wrong?

Oof. Sometimes ~the talk~ doesn't go the way you planned—maybe the person you’re in a situationship with isn’t so comfy with an official title, or they're just not ready to make a romantic commitment.

If they’re starting to shut down mid-convo, the first step is to think about what you want and what’s true for you. “We need to not climb out of ourselves when we feel like someone's reacting to our truth in some way that goes against what we are wanting,” says Comaroto. She advises taking a beat and asking yourself questions like: Where is my heart? What’s true for me?

After that, she recommends responding rather than reacting through “reflective communication.” That might look like repeating what you heard them say back to them, which might sound like something along the lines of: “It sounds like you're not ready for this right now. I hear that, and I honor that, and I respect that, and I appreciate you making space for what's true for me. Why don’t we revisit this later?” That way, they won’t necessarily feel scared or turned off by the conversation—they’ll know that you are listening.

Once the conversation has come to a close, give them some space. “It's not an either-or scenario. The other person doesn't get to be right and have the relationship go that way, the way that they want it, which nullifies what you want, and you get to honor yourself,” she explains.

While it may—pardon my French—flat-out suck to have the conversation not go the way you wanted, it’s important to have the tools to respond and ensure that both parties feel understood.

Once you’ve given your companion some space, bring the convo back, asking other clarifying questions about your future: Do we want to see other people in addition to each other? Do we need to slow down? Do you need some time to figure out what you want?

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However, at some point, it may be time to move on. “People need to be true to themselves and remember that they're the prize,” she says. “When we lean too far out of ourselves and wanting something from someone else that they don't want, there's gotta be a way that we can tolerate this kind of truth and honor. Honor the other person, but honor yourself.”

You should also consider where you’re moving on to, she advises. Is it a steady partnership? Marriage? Kids (eventually)? If you’re chasing a long-term relationship goal, it might not even be about the person anymore—so you really need to think about if you are their person. If you weigh that question carefully, you’ll know if it’s time to move on or not. “There are things you need to have in place before you're even in a conversation around commitment, because usually those two things go hand in hand,” she adds.

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Addison Aloian

Addison Aloian (she/her) is an editorial assistant at Women’s Health. When she’s not writing about all things pop culture, health, beauty, and fashion, she loves hitting leg day at the gym, shopping at Trader Joe’s, and watching whichever hockey game is on TV. Her work has also appeared in Allure, StyleCaster, L’Officiel USA, V Magazine, and Modern Luxury Media. 

Is Dating Exclusively the Same as a Relationship?

Exclusivity can take your relationship to a whole new level, but what does it mean? And are you and your partner ready?

You’ve been seeing someone, and it might be going really well.

Being with them may feel different from other people you’ve dated. Perhaps they make you feel comfortable and happy, and it seems like it’s really progressing in a positive direction.

Maybe you want to take it to the next level by going exclusive — but dating has also changed so much, so what does being exclusive mean these days?

Labels mean different things to people, but one of the simplest ways to think of “exclusive” is a transitional phase between “dating” and “relationship.” This can also mean agreeing to not see other people while on your way to — potentially — becoming a couple.

According to Whitney Goodman, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Miami, Florida, “exclusive relationships vary depending on the relationship and the people in that relationship.”

“People will often define their terms for being ‘exclusive’ and agree to them. I have seen couples discuss exclusiveness around seeing other people, physical intimacy, emotional intimacy, and other areas of the relationship.”

Another way to see exclusivity is how Ariana Grande puts it in her 2019 hit, “Boyfriend.” The lyrics in the song say:

“You ain’t my boyfriend
I ain’t your girlfriend
But you don’t want me to see nobody else
And I don’t want you to see nobody”

Exclusive relationships typically mean a deeper connection and more intimacy. This could also come with changes to your mental health.

For example, one 2019 study showed that individuals in monogamous couples show greater emotional distress thinking about their partner getting involved with someone else.

On the other hand, being in an exclusive relationship could also boost your overall mood thanks to an increase in serotonin. An older study even found that high marital quality can be associated with lower stress and less depression.

Exclusively dating your partner is an exciting step in your journey together, but how do you know if you’re ready to take that step?

How to tell if you might be ready to be exclusive

  • You aren’t interested in seeing other people.
  • You find yourself imagining them in your future.
  • You resolved disagreements or misunderstandings healthily.
  • You feel yourself letting down your walls with this person.
  • You’re ready for a deeper connection with this person.

How to tell if you might not be ready for exclusivity

  • You don’t want to give up seeing other people.
  • You’re worried someone better will come around.
  • You feel anxious about committing to them.
  • If you’re being honest with yourself, you just like the attention.
  • You can’t quite see a future with your partner.

Wherever you are, that’s OK! Being ready to be exclusive doesn’t mean you have to be 100% certain that your partner is “the one,” or you’re ready to move in together.

Similarly, not being quite prepared to be exclusive doesn’t mean that your potential for a healthy relationship is doomed.

What about your partner? Are they ready?

You may or may not be ready for an exclusive relationship, but you’re only half of the equation.

So, how can you tell if your partner wants to be exclusive? They may want to be exclusive if they:

  • help create emotional safety in the relationship
  • include you in plans
  • introduce you to family and friends

These are all positive signs that could mean they’re ready to commit. But if you’re unsure, some other signs may mean they’re not there yet.

How to tell if your partner may not be ready to be exclusive

  • They don’t prioritize you in their plans.
  • You have very unpredictable communication together.
  • They haven’t introduced you to family or friends.
  • They haven’t deleted their dating apps.
  • They overwhelmed you with affection early on in the relationship, but that attention sharply declined.

Whether you’re ready to be exclusive or not, it’s important to have open communication with the person you’re seeing so that you both know where you stand.

How to tell your partner you’re ready to be exclusive

“The best way to communicate this is to be direct and clear about what you want,” says Goodman.

“You can start by bringing it up to the person and saying something like, ‘I want to talk about our relationship and make sure we’re on the same page.’”

How to tell your partner you’re not ready to be exclusive

“We almost always end up hurting people more when we aren’t honest or when we say something to make them happy and then do the opposite,” Goodman admits. “It might hurt the person in the beginning, but in the long run it will be so much better.

“You can be compassionate, kind, and honest by saying something like ‘I’m not ready to make that type of commitment right now,’ and then clarify what you would like for the relationship.”

“It’s important to talk about your definition of exclusive and different scenarios that might come up,” says Goodman. “I see so many couples assume that the other person shares their vision, so they don’t discuss it… It never hurts to talk about it and confirm.”

And exclusivity aside, in all relationship stages, you deserve to be with someone who makes you feel wanted, special, and sees the truly incredible person that you are.

What does Exclusive mean? 15 Signs You're In This Stage / Flirting Flings

If you're willing to negotiate with your partner, they may ask if you're willing to be exclusive. But what exactly does exclusivity mean? Here's how to find out.

Your relationship will go through many different stages even before you start thinking about a real relationship. This means you won't be able to tell when you're exclusive. But what does exclusive mean?

Being exclusive is the term used to describe when a couple decides to only date each other. They are happy with each other and they don't want to date anyone else. In fact, it becomes an official couple. Boy and girl. Now you are partners.

Being exclusive is a big deal.

This is especially true if you're someone who doesn't usually get into a serious relationship. Becoming exclusive means declaring your commitment to someone. You are in this for the long haul. Your intentions are pure.

This can be a huge deal and therefore a very sensitive issue for some. Those who have commitment issues find this word very scary. For them, becoming exclusive can be a much bigger deal than it is for you.

What does exclusive mean and how will you know when you're ready for it?

If you only want to date this person and no one else, then you are ready. But how do you know when it's time to have a discussion? Because you can be ready much sooner than they are.

And if you try to get exclusive with someone who's really not ready, it can backfire on you. Here's how to know if your relationship is ready to be exclusive.

#1 You act like you already. In fact, you are already in an exclusive relationship. You don't see other people and you don't have desire either. This is the main sign that both of you are ready for a commitment.

#2 You know you don't want anyone else. If you are sure that you want to devote yourself to this person, then you are ready. Something you should consider if they feel the same way. If you're already acting like you're in an exclusive relationship and they're integrating you into their life, they probably feel the same way.

# 3 Your relationship is healthy. Are you both happy? If you're good to each other and things are going well, and it's been a couple of months, you may well be ready for an exclusive relationship.

Just make sure you're not blinded by your new feelings for this person. Look for signs of a healthy relationship before assuming all is well.

# 4 You are excited about the idea of ​​this relationship. Do you not like to think about your future with this person? If so, you may be ready for exclusivity. Think long and hard about the future. Do you see yourself happy with this person? Having a clear image of a happy relationship together can be a sign that you are ready to commit.

# 5 You get upset when you think about losing them. Think about the fact that you can lose this person and not have a relationship with him. You could live without them, really.

How are you feeling? If you are frustrated and frustrated just thinking about it, this person is definitely important to you. So important that you are probably ready for an exclusive relationship with them.

# 6 You both complete each other. No, I don't mean that you both say nice things to each other. It's about your personalities getting along well with each other. Do your lifestyles match each other? If so, this is a great sign that you could be very happy together.

# 7 Your friends love them. This is provided that they have already met. But if your friends really love them and this person is trying really hard to impress them, they clearly want you around. Making an effort to fit into your life is a huge deal. This shows their commitment already and proves that they can be ready to be exclusive.

# 8 You like their friends. If you have been integrated into their lives and met their friends, they have feelings for you. And if their friends have expressed how much they like you, then you are in business. Exclusivity is not far off.

# 9 You don't even consider other people's successes. Anyone who tries to hit you just doesn't matter. You don't even think about it because you're just not interested. This means that you are happy with who you are with and will be happy in an exclusive relationship with them. .

# 10 You can solve problems together. This says a lot about your compatibility and how you will work together to get through the tough times in the future.

If you've already fought and handled him with ease, you're on the right track. The opportunity to solve problems as a couple is huge, and if you've already done it, you're ready to be exclusive.

# 11 You are satisfied with them in all areas. This means going in and out of the bedroom. Basically, if your sex life and romantic life are satisfying for you, then you are definitely ready to take the next step and be in a committed relationship. They already make you happy.

#12 You are already talking about the future. If all goes well, you are probably already talking about the future together. And if they are openly discussing the future with you, then they will definitely not like the idea completely.

# 13 You both have the same morals and values. This is the main thing to consider when meeting someone. If you are going to be in a committed relationship with someone, you must be on the same page with your values ​​and morals. If you do not, the relationship will only be associated with problems.

# 14 You keep your life separate from each other. You can't be with each other 24/7 and expect the relationship to work. In the beginning, you can spend a lot of time with them. However, being too dependent on them will only be unhealthy..

To tell if you are ready to be exclusive, you need to live separately. You still have friends and you still go out and do your thing. This shows that you have trust and a healthy foundation for an exclusive relationship.

# 15 They don't shy away from the idea. Just ask them about it. Talk about how you definitely feel about them as a guy or girl. If they don't shy away from an idea, then they obviously want to commit. Be open and discuss it. If both of you are happy, you will likely find yourself in an exclusive relationship without even knowing it.

What does exclusive mean? If you're interested and not sure if you're ready to take that leap with others, these tips will help.

Relations with the former: for or against?

  • Psychology

Even though Mercury retrograde is over, it doesn't mean that the former Mercury can return with the message "Are you sleeping?" at three o'clock in the morning. Let's be honest, such news from the past rarely goes unread. At best, they will be followed by a conversation in which a showdown will begin, and at worst, he is already calling a taxi to your home address.

Of course, phrases like “you can’t step into the same river twice” cannot be used as a plug in every barrel, but you don’t need to run into the arms of an ex-lover at the first call either. Especially if the relationship did not end on a good word.

Anastasia Shvedko, PEOPLETALK columnist, author of the usafespace mental health blog, talks about why we constantly return to those who do not suit us at all, and whether it is possible to build relationships with those who once broke their hearts.

Anastasia Shvedko, author of the mental health blog usafespace

Old = familiar, familiar = safe

Scene from Sex and the City

Although our brain is plastic, it does not like change. He does not like expanding his comfort zone: a new job is scary, a new image is exciting, and a new relationship is generally deadly. What to expect from all these changes? His main task is to protect us, and he can do this only in familiar conditions and with the same variables.

Even if the relationship did not bring joy, one way or another, a person eventually gets used to it and understands what to expect. In fact, any comfort zone eventually turns into a swamp, from which you can only get out by expanding the boundaries. That is why people change negative attitudes and old patterns in order to move on and become happier.

Yes, in principle, everything was not so bad

The brain (yes, its fault again) is an amazing organ that can block the cause of the pain that caused the separation. Over time, even after the most terrible period in life, the colors fade. Good memories stand out against the background of forgotten bad ones, and the feeling of nostalgia manages to overwhelm us with renewed vigor.

What if this is my only great love?

Low self-esteem is one of the main points why you so want to return to past relationships. And most often it is just because of a partner who consciously or unconsciously influenced you. Therefore, it may seem that all the romantic stories in life are now over.

Clinical psychologist Karen Nimmo says that it is difficult to get out of any emotional relationship, due to the fact that a person has an association of violent emotions with passion, and passions with love. We get addicted to these feelings, even if they don't make us happy.

Should I return to it?

A still from the film "Diary of Memory"

Each case is unique. "Former" is a word that should not carry a negative connotation. Sometimes separation is good for people. They begin to better understand their feelings, realize mistakes and reach mutual understanding. Maturity also plays a big role: some need to grow up and become more conscious in order to build a harmonious union. Trust your feelings, but remember that the end of the old is always the beginning of something new and beautiful.

If at one time two adults separated by mutual agreement, and in a relationship they did not hurt each other, after parting they may realize that they are still better together than apart.

What should I do to forget my ex forever?

The most effective and gentle way is psychotherapy. With it, you can come to a sense of inner self-worth, work through internal traumas and get rid of old patterns of behavior.

Analyze why past relationships ended. Write down a list of all the things you didn't like and write down what you expect from the relationship in the future.

Get rid of everything that reminds you of him and avoid places where you can cross paths.

Take care of yourself: make time for a hobby, take care of yourself more and fill your life with new colors. It's time to update your hair (yes, you can bob) and go dancing!

Try techniques that can help you release the person energetically: write a farewell letter (without sending it) or do meditation on disconnection.

Let's be friends?




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