Relationships are complicated. Even before you’re in an exclusive relationship you will go through a lot of different stages. So, it can be confusing to know when or if you are exclusive. On top of that, many of us don’t know what exclusive actually means.
Does it mean you’ve met The One, or can it be a ‘wait and see’ kind of thing? You may be partners, but what does that mean to you?
[Read: Are you exclusive or is it casual? 14 signs to test your status right now]
Occasionally, when you’ve been dating someone for a while and haven’t had “the talk,” the fling can turn into a lot more without you even knowing. This happens to a lot of people, surprisingly, and they end up in an exclusive relationship with someone they thought they were just casually dating.
When you’re thrust into the dating world, end up going on dates with a number of different people, and slowly find yourself dating the same person over and over, while also accepting fewer and fewer other dates from others, you’ve basically put yourself into a relationship.
The great thing about this is that it develops naturally.
That’s why it’s so surprising when you realize that you are actually in an exclusive relationship: it’s actually the way that most healthy relationships should evolve. [Read: What are we? How to get your crush to label your relationship]
Technically being exclusive means you are only seeing each other. You are in a committed relationship.
You may know what ‘exclusive’ means to you, but it could so different from what it means to your partner.
Maybe you only sleep with each other but can casually see others. Perhaps flirting is okay or dancing with other people when you’re out.
An exclusive relationship means something different depending on the couple. It is very common for some people to be in an exclusive relationship, but it can be rare and difficult for others to gain that level of trust.
Becoming exclusive is declaring your commitment to someone. You’re in it for the long haul. Your intentions are pure. You trust each other. [Read: Learn how to trust again once you’ve been fooled]
This can be a huge deal and that’s why it’s such a touchy subject for some. Those who have commitment issues find this word to be super scary. To them, becoming exclusive might be a much bigger deal than it is for you.
So, before figuring out if you’re ready for an exclusive relationship, figure out what that means to you. [Read: Dating exclusively but not in a relationship? The grey area dilemma]
If you only want to date that person and nobody else, then you’re ready, to an extent. It can be a lot more complicated than simply wanting to be exclusive.
Being ready involves feeling comfortable having that discussion with the other person. You should be able to share your excitement as well as your fears. And they should feel comfortable confiding in you as well.
Now, just showing one or two of these signs that you’re ready to be exclusive isn’t a full answer. But, if you relate to most of these signs, the odds are that you and your relationship are ready for that next step. [Read: The talking stage – What it is and how to progress to the next stage]
Here’s how to tell if you’re ready to be in an exclusive relationship, or perhaps you’re already in one.
Basically, you two are already in an exclusive relationship. You don’t see other people and you don’t have the desire to, either.
You’ve both communicated that you aren’t seeing anyone else and want it to stay that way. This is a major sign you’re both ready for the commitment of exclusivity. [Read: 19 signs you’re already in an exclusive relationship]
If you’re certain you want to commit to that person, then you’re ready. The thing you have to consider that they aren’t just good enough for right now. You shouldn’t feel like you’re with them until someone better comes along.
Being with them should make you happy enough that you aren’t thinking about the possibility of someone else.
Are you both happy? If you’re treating each other well and things are going great and it’s been a couple of months, you could very well be ready for an exclusive relationship.
Just make sure you’re not blinded by your new feelings for this person. Sometimes things seem amazing at first because everyone is on their best behavior.
Be sure to take off those rose-colored glasses and really pay attention to whether this is sustainable long-term. [Read: What does a healthy relationship look like? The qualities and signs to look for]
Do you get pumped thinking about your future with this person? If so, you could be ready to be exclusive. But, think long and hard about the future.
Do you see yourself with that person in six months, two years? Do you picture things you want to do in the future with them? If those things excite you, it could be a sign you’re ready to commit.
Think about the fact that you could lose that person and not be in a relationship with them. We don’t want to bum you out but consider it. Does a future without them seem bleek?
If that stresses you out, then that person is definitely important to you. If you don’t want to lose them from your life in any way, it could be time to become exclusive. This puts the relationship into a state that makes those feelings clear. [Read: 17 modern dating terms to help you master the evolving dating game]
No, we don’t mean you both tell each other nice things. That is a compliment. Complement means you complete each other to a certain extent.
Although you should both be your own individual people, together you make sense. You bring out the best in one another and balance each other out.
This is about your personalities meshing well together. Do your lifestyles fit one another’s? If so, it’s a great sign that you could be very happy together. [Read: How to know if you’re compatible with each other]
This is assuming they’ve met already. But if your friends really like them and that person fits in with your group, it is a good sign.
Sure, at first they may be nervous, but if your friends can tell that this person makes you happy it is an extra vote of confidence.
The fact that they are making the effort to fit in your life is a huge deal. It shows their commitment already and proves that you both might be ready to be exclusive.
If you’ve been integrated into their life and have met their friends, they have feelings for you. Someone who wants to keep things casual probably won’t want you to meet all their friends. They will want to keep you separate from them.
Meeting their friends and actually becoming a part of their group shows their trust in you. And if their friends have expressed how much they like you, then you’re in. Exclusivity is right around the corner. [Read: How to accept your BF’s friends and get them to accept you]
Anyone who tries to hit on you just doesn’t matter. Sure, you might see a hot celebrity in a magazine, but you don’t even entertain the idea of dating anyone else.
It shouldn’t be hard to turn others down or feel like you’re giving up freedom if you are ready to be in an exclusive relationship.
This says a lot about your compatibility and how you’ll work together to get through tough times in the future.
No relationship is perfect. Everyone has tough times. If you’ve already had a fight and got through it pretty easily by communicating, you’re on the right track. Being able to solve problems as a couple is huge and if you’ve already done it, you’re likely ready to be exclusive.
That means in and out of the bedroom. Basically, if your sexual life and romantic life are satisfying to you, then you’re definitely ready to take the next step and be in a committed relationship.
Now, don’t be fooled by the word “every.” No relationship will fulfill you completely. This is why you have family and friends and other people in your life. Your partner cannot be everything for you.
But, if they make you happy in the ways they logically can and give you space to keep being fulfilled by the other important people in your life, it is a good sign. [Read: Are you in love? The clear signs you’re past lust and slowly falling in love]
If everything’s been going well, then you probably already talk about a future together. We’re not saying you need to be picking out floral arrangements, but planning to see a movie that comes out in 6 months or going on a vacation together shows you’re both looking ahead together.
And if you’re both happy to discuss the future, then being exclusive shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
This is a major thing to consider when dating anyone. If you’re going to be in a committed relationship with someone, you have to be on the same page with your values and morals.
If you’re not, the relationship is only bound to be trouble. You should at least align on the most basic things, or at least, the things that are important to you.
If being from opposing religions or political parties isn’t going to work for you, becoming exclusive will make things a lot more difficult down the road. [Read: 25 signs your relationship will last and only grow stronger with time]
This is something so many couples overlook or ignore, but it might be one of the most important signs that you’re ready for an exclusive relationship.
You can’t be with each other 24/7 and expect the relationship to work. And, you can’t rely on each other for everything. Initially, you might want to spend a ton of time with them because you’re getting to know each other. However, being too dependent on them will only become unhealthy.
In order to tell if you’re ready to be exclusive, you have to have separate lives. You should still have your friends and you still go out and do your own thing.
You should be able to be apart happily and come together happily. This shows that you have trust and a healthy base for an exclusive relationship. [Read: How to spot codependent behavior early on and regain your self-identity]
We personally hate timetables when it comes to relationships. There is no magic number where becoming exclusive will work out. But, becoming exclusive after 2 or 3 dates could be pushing it.
Don’t take this the wrong way. We don’t mean that you should be dating multiple people until the word exclusive pops up between you.
We mean, closing the door on anyone else and being 100% focused on and committed to someone you barely know is a big risk. You should at least know more about someone before that word comes up.
If you see each other 3 times a week for 3 weeks you may be ready before a couple that sees each other once a month for 6 months. [Read: How long should you casually date someone before it gets serious?]
We’re not saying that in order to be exclusive you need to be able to use the bathroom with the door open in front of them. But, you should feel comfortable around them. Those initial nerves should be waning away.
If you are ready to be exclusive with someone, you should be able to open up with them, relax around them, and not feel on edge. They should make you feel more comfortable, not less. [Read: How to open to someone you’re dating when you’re scared]
Before becoming exclusive you shouldn’t be worried they are cheating or lying to you. Sure, maybe they are still swiping on a dating app or keeping things casual so they don’t rush into it, but you shouldn’t be suspicious.
If you feel like being official is the only way you’ll be able to trust them, nothing will change.
Just because you agree to be exclusive, it doesn’t mean they will be any less sketchy or that you’ll feel any less jealous. The trust should be there so that when you say you’re exclusive you know it is true. [Read: How to get over trust issues in your relationship and move forward]
Being exclusive doesn’t mean you are moving in together, but you should feel like you’re somewhat at home in each other’s homes. Maybe you have a drawer. Perhaps you leave a toothbrush and pair of sweatpants there.
You should be comfortable cohabitating, even if it is just for the night. If staying over at their house, or they at yours, seems more stressful than fun or comfortable, you may not be there yet.
You should be on the same page when you talk. Are you both happy to text each other good morning every day? Do they go quiet for days on end? Are you texting them more than they’d like?
You should keep in touch a reasonable amount by this point. You also shouldn’t feel weird about texting them mid-day to ask a question.
By the time you are ready to be in an exclusive relationship, you shouldn’t be worried about seeming desperate or playing games. [Read: Timing it right – How often should you meet your boyfriend or girlfriend in a week?]
Just ask them about it. Talk about how you’re definitely feeling them as a boyfriend or girlfriend. If they don’t shy away from the idea, then they obviously want to commit.
Be open and discuss it. If you’re both happy, you’ll probably end up in an exclusive relationship without even knowing it. [Read: How to start the exclusivity conversation]
Exclusive literally means “limited to one.” If you’re only seeing them and no one else, that’s a sign that you’re in an exclusive relationship with them. But in addition, they’re not seeing anyone else either.
This definitely works both ways. If you’re only seeing them and they’re only seeing you, then it’s exclusive by definition.
If you two are only seeing each other and frequently going on dates, we would say it’s a definite sign that you’re in an exclusive relationship already.
This may seem like it’s not that important in the grand scheme of things, but just think about it for a second. Do you ever have a picture of you and your hookup or just the person you’re only barely seeing as your profile picture?
Not really. Most of the time, your profile picture is reserved for people who mean more in your life. And if yours just so happens to be of you and the person you’re dating, it’s basically announcing that you’re in an exclusive relationship with them. [Read: Social media and relationships – The good, the bad, and the ugly]
All joking is aside and if they’re being serious about it, then the important people in your life referring to them as your boyfriend/girlfriend without you correcting them is definitely an indicator of exclusivity.
If you’re far enough into your relationship for gifts during the holidays, you’re most likely in an exclusive relationship. Because let’s be real, they’re not going to shell out the dough for ALL the people they’re seeing. So they’re only seeing you—and vice versa.
We’re not talking about “baby” or “honey.” No. We’re talking about pet names that are specific to just them. It could be something like an endearing nickname that they’ve actually earned. [Read: Pet names -The right way to pick the perfect, personal one]
If you’re already in an exclusive relationship, then your partner has absolutely told you all about their family, even if you haven’t had the chance to meet them yet. People don’t just divulge that information to anyone, you know.
You know for sure that they can’t go a day without breakfast. And, you know that they absolutely cannot sleep with socks on.
You know all their little ticks and weird habits that not many others would know about. That’s how you know you’re in an exclusive relationship already.
This is a big sign that you’re actually in a relationship with someone versus just dating them. You both take turns paying the bills, so the guy doesn’t always end up with it.
This is a habit of an exclusive couple, rather than a casual fling. [Read: Going dutch on a date? 16 rules, tips and how to decide who pays for it]
Although this doesn’t sound like a typical sign – it is. If you can order their dinner or a whole pizza and know exactly what they do or do not like, or how they like their food cooked, you’re already in an exclusive relationship.
Nothing says “exclusive relationship” like leaving toothbrushes at each other’s places. This is a sure sign.
You know you’re in an exclusive relationship when you’re past all of the awkward phases. Nothing makes you feel weird with them anymore. You’re totally comfortable and you can be yourself at all times.
This goes both ways. Fellas, you don’t feel the need to keep your face trimmed and proper, and you ladies don’t feel bad about skipping the leg shaving for a few days.
If you can spend the night at their place and not have sex with them, that’s a true sign that your dating relationship has matured into an exclusive relationship. [Read: 30 things for couples to do at home with zero boredom involved]
If you’re asked out on other dates and you always turn them down because of your current partner, you’re ready to be exclusive.
Even though you haven’t talked about exclusivity, you feel attached enough to turn down other potentials. That’s a huge sign you’re in an exclusive relationship.
This is another huge one. If someone at a bar or out and about asks if you’re single and you say no because of your partner, then you’re obviously considering yourself a member of an exclusive relationship. [Read: New relationship advice – How to have a perfect start to love]
No matter how near or far that image may be, you just expect that they will be there. This is a huge sign that you’re already in an exclusive relationship, even if you two haven’t exactly defined it yet.
[Read: The 4-month relationship – What should you expect when you hit this mark?]
What does exclusive mean? If you’ve been wondering and you aren’t sure if you’re ready to take the next step, these signs should aim you towards an exclusive relationship, or maybe, away from one.
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