You met and exchanged numbers. Then, you’ve had coffee, perhaps a movie and dinner and you’ve gotten such a great physical chemistry… Or you’ve been seeing each other every weekend for a month now. So, are they still looking for someone else? Are you? Do you ask the other person what they think or just wait till they bring it up?
What does dating “exclusively” really mean, anyway?
When to stop the broad sweep and narrow in on dating just one person, is a question that is baffling for most. Sure, you meet couples who claim they “just knew,” but revisionist history abounds when it comes to romance. It’s easy to claim destiny when you are walking down the aisle. But in the initial stages of a new romantic connection, it can seem like your every step is weighed down with trepidation and anxiety.
If you are looking to stop dating and start relating – here is a guide to know it’s time to go one on one.
The “6” test
Have you been on a minimum of six separate dates? Give yourself some time to test your feelings and get to know the person you’re going out with. (Even a psycho can show up and take anyone on a great first date – and likely a second one, too.) Take a minimum of six separate dates, or six weeks of seeing a person, before you think about the idea of dating them exclusively.
And change it up. Movies and dinners are great, but throw in hikes, museums, thrift store shopping, even a protest march if you’re so inclined. For the first couple of months, no matter how strong a connection you are feeling, you need to take the pressure off and not make any decision about stepping out of the dating pool. This isn’t to force you into seeing other people, but rather to withhold judgment. You have to be okay in the grey zone!
Sex or no sex?
Next, is this about sex or is this about an emotional and spiritual connection? There is a significant number of people who do not want to have sex until the relationship is exclusive. This makes a lot of sense health-wise and emotionally, too. Once you start having sex, the relationship becomes more intense and some of the first excitement of meeting this person goes away. Don’t let the rush of physical intimacy springboard you into wanting to date exclusively. If you don’t feel comfortable having sex until you are exclusive, take it slow to allow the emotional intimacy to build first. It’s the emotional intimacy that guides you into an exclusive relationship. If you put the sex first, you’ll get all enmeshed and bonded and then later once the endorphins wear off, you’ll find out who you are really with!
Are you truly only interested in seeing this particular person or are you trying to manipulate them into only seeing you? This is not a good strategy because it’s based in jealousy. Dating exclusively is a decision to deepen the intimacy by putting your attention on one person – not to control them.
And be wary, very wary, of hostage takers! They see you once or twice and then they expect to see you all the time… and pretty soon you are living together without even knowing each other! Usually the people who rush into exclusivity rush right out when the relationship actually shows some true intimacy. So take a breath – and let the relationship show you the answer instead of the other way around.
If you have seen each other for at least six weeks, you can feel the relationship building and you have a sincere desire to deepen this relationship, then it may be time to talk. You say how you feel then listen to how they feel. This conversation will be revealing if you are both seeing the relationship the same way. The one thing that never works is convincing the other person to go along with your intention. They have to come to a decision themselves, which doesn’t mean they have to be ready at the exact same time as you.
If they answer, “I am just not ready for that yet.” Then thank them for their honesty and keep going out. Give it another month or so and see if you are still interested in asking the question. If you are, ask again. If you’ve been seeing each other for awhile and they still aren’t ready to take the relationship up a notch, you might have to change your expectations or seek someone who wants what you want.
Finally, if you both decide to see each other exclusively, know that even this decision doesn’t mean you’ve reached a destination. It means it’s time to reveal more of yourself. Make exclusivity fun and sexy. No matter how long this relationship lasts, you are participating in the journey of love. Bon voyage!