The “exclusivity” talk is an important one, but not one that can be defined perfectly with an exact amount of time.
There are so many variables to each relationship that it would be silly to think that all relationships have a defined curriculum that they need to follow in order for them to be meaningful or serving.
Additionally, a secure and confident woman is more likely to enjoy the “undefined-ness” of the relationship because she is actually deciding for herself if he is indeed the man she would like to commit to.
Most often, the woman that is pushing is insecure within herself and is subconsciously looking for her partner to make her feel secure. She may tend to cling and claw at her partner in hopes to fill the void that she has not yet learned to fill by herself. Hence, she will want to force “the talk” in order to fill this void as quickly as possible.
Most often if affection/love is mutual, the “talk” will happen naturally.
If a man is truly into you, he will want to claim you as his own in order to define a line so that you won’t still be out there shopping. With that being said, if “the talk” has not happened after, let’s say 3-4 months, it is safe to say that there may be something else going on in his mind that may be stopping him from fully claiming you as his.
A few examples of this may be…
1. Your partner has a fear of commitment based on past experiences
2. His idea of a relationship is different than yours
3. He’s not good at (or fears) speaking his truth/feelings (fear of vulnerability)
4. He’s misreading your signals or perhaps you are giving off an armored vibe that is keeping him from opening and/or committing to you
5. He’s not as into you as you are into him
If you think that any of the following things might be going on in your partner, it is time to have a deep, authentic and meaningful conversation.
This conversation should consist of (a) your genuine feelings regarding him (b) your idea of what this relationship is and where you’d like it to go and (c) how you both can work together to shift the relationship to “fully committed” status.
Remember… honest, open communication is KEY in and throughout a healthy relationship.
Kristen Brown, Certified Empowerment Coach/Mentor – www.sweetempowerment.com
Sometime within the first few hours you meet or never.
There was a time when relationships had rules that everyone understood and accepted. People were first introduced by others who knew them well. They were given a period of time to get to know each other and did not date anyone else until they either both liked each other enough to proceed or decided it wasn’t going to go anywhere.
If they entered that next phase of commitment, they introduced each other to friends, then family, then clergy. Now they became, in the eyes of those who mattered, a couple-to-be, sanctioned along the way and watched over carefully to make sure they proceeded as directed. There were no sanctioned exit routes.
In case you haven’t noticed, things are radically different now.
The relationship meet-greet-proceed or depart sequence can happen on one date, over texting or email, in a rapid hook-up, on a dating site, set-up dates, or totally at random. You can answer several hundred questions on OK Cupid that tells you more than you might want to know without really knowing anything, or flip through Tinder and wonder how many pictures are photo-shopped. You can think you’ve met the most amazing person in the world and find out he doesn’t even exist or exempt yourself from someone who might be hiding his treasured self to make you search harder.
With the plethora of superb to ridiculous relationship advice out there, it is hard to imagine that anyone has to wait for just the right moment to ask someone else if they are serious about being monogamous or has the notion that the relationship just might be long-term.
Often many partners don’t even know much about a person’s background, prior relationships, reasons for break-ups, moneys owed, children conceived long ago that have just become financial obligations, religious affiliations and beliefs, hidden sexual desires, or family skeletons, before they even decide whether a future is in order or would even work. Yet, they want to know if that guy is serious?
It is sad to me to so often hear women talk to each other about strategies and orchestrations without talking directly to the guy they’re with.
By the time they have figured out that he is attractive, knows how to work a date correctly, isn’t married, and reasonably available, they are too far into the relationship to know how to back up and ask the questions that should have been part of the hours together after the first movie.
I grew up in a fancy men’s barber shop in Beverly Hills. My dad was “barber to the stars.” I spent hours in a corner listening to them speak to each other. They talked about battle, business, sports, politics, and health. I cannot remember ever hearing about them talk about women. They were direct, competitive, easy-going and quick to forgive each other. They were mostly powerful men, but definitely “bros” into today’s nomenclature.
When I work with my male patients, they appreciate the same caring, easy-going directness and want it so much from the women they date, before it gets “serious.” They hate games and hate being cornered even more. To be part of a scenario where a woman they are dating all of a sudden asks them if they are serious would be the last thing they would ever choose, even if they were.
So, here’s my advice.
Think of dating a guy as a great adventure. Approach him as a cultural anthropologist, eager to know who he is, where he comes from, and what his dreams and aspirations are. Think of yourselves on two separate paths, temporarily or permanently parallel, sharing treasured moments and spontaneous connections.
Tell him up front who you are and what your concept of a great relationship is and that you are honestly hoping that will happen someday with the right person but you know those little miracles are not usually created by intent. Let him know that you are serious about your quest but have no intent of asking anyone along who doesn’t feel the same way.
Share your comfort with your separateness but your desires to blend as well.
Make absolutely certain that he knows that you do not want to possess or control, and have absolutely no intent to let anyone do that to you. Share those feelings and thoughts with graciousness and a lack of urgency.
If you are not comfortable with that kind of openness and authenticity, it is highly unlikely you’re going to send out the kind of beam that will bring someone to you who feels the same way. If you hide who you are until you feel more “secure” you are more likely to find someone who takes advantage of your availability without having to recognize what you’ve given or what it should cost.
Pushiness, at any step along the way, won’t work.
Being cagey will also most likely backfire. A great relationship is open and transparent from the beginning. There never needs to be “the right time.”
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
When you are dating someone, the relationship is going well and you are developing stronger feelings, you may wish to talk about where things are going.
It’s natural to feel somewhat nervous to discover whether he is feeling as serious about you as you are feeling about him. It is the next step to want to know and at the same time it’s important to know how to read his signals before you have this discussion. Timing is crucial. Too soon and he may back off. Too late and you may end up as friends, not partners.
Take your time and don’t rush. A few dates or even a few weeks is usually too early. If you are not a couple yet, wait to discuss are ‘we an exclusive couple?’
The ‘high dream’, meaning that you are wishing for the best result that he has similar depth of feelings for you will push you to ask, “do you see a future with me or are we casually dating or not?” If you don’t get an answer, that’s the answer and it means he is casually dating you. So don’t forget that you may get the ‘low dream’, which is not the outcome you were hoping for. It is painful and distressing. He may also say he has feelings for you but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is ready to commit.
Don’t marginalize his signs that he isn’t really interested or that he isn’t making much time or effort to see you.
If he doesn’t take himself off dating websites, that is telling you he’s not committing to you yet or ever! Its actions that count, not just words. In that case, focus more on your own life and see if he becomes more interested in you. If not, let go and move on.
Some articles say you should have ‘the talk’ about exclusivity. Maybe so and yet, if you can trust and allow the relationship to develop, the conversation will emerge of its own accord. Have you thought that he may bring the topic up? Or some men will delay promising a future together because either they are not absolutely certain or don’t want to commit verbally yet.
If you really want to ask and he is indicating he is very interested in you, be direct and honest with him, rather than discussing having a holiday together next year in the hope that means commitment from him!
If he says he needs some time to think about it, don’t debate or push and give him some time. Also some men become monogamous but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are fully committed yet.
In short, ensure it is the right time and right place to talk. Learn to read the signals well and see the bigger picture of his behaviour, not just what you are hoping for.
Sherry Marshall, BSc, MAA – www.sydneyprocesscounselling.com.au
Making your relationship exclusive is akin to taking that step into the Big Leagues.
It would be an honor to make it. And, as someone considering exclusivity, remember that you (and hopefully your partner) would be stepping into territory where the quality of your relationship needs to reflect Big League standards.
Do you both have the communication skills, commitment, joy, and love of the “game” you’ve been playing to merit this honor?
Furthermore, do you both have the endurance and work ethic necessary to be (and stay) at the top?
Anyone in the (Relationship) Big Leagues will tell you that it’s hard work. So, if your mate is not a wholehearted, dedicated partner, you might as well sit him on the proverbial bench or tell him to hop the bus back home to the recreational leagues!
Still with me? Congratulations! You really do want to start thinking about life with your partner in that “happily ever after” way. Undecided if you’re still with me? Well, let’s take a closer look at some issues that might factor into whether you’re truly ready for the exclusivity talk.
1. Would you be able to handle your partner saying he or she is not ready to be exclusive?
If you don’t think so, then ask yourself why not. A mature response would not be an angry response. Maybe/Probably, you’d feel hurt, but you must strive to see the big picture. If you need to move on to meet various goals in life, but your partner cannot or will not pledge to stand by you, that might be all the information you need to know and, yes, accept.
2. If your partner says “exclusivity” is not in the picture, embrace that you’ve been given the gift of freedom.
Express your loving, parting message to your partner and break up. Then take time to review the happy & hard lessons of this relationship. Finally, hit re-set.
3. Do your values involve necessarily (and not just optimally) having a partner you love and are loved by?
If so, and your partner says, “What?” followed by a quick, “Yikes!” then keep looking for someone who appreciates and accepts why you’re ready for an exclusive relationship.
4. Are you prepared to have the same “Big Leagues” exclusivity standards applied to you?
For example, if your partner asks you about that old flame you still mention quite a lot because he or she is struggling with the end of his or her marriage, can you validate your partner’s feelings and communicate your full intention to remain sensitive to your partner’s needs?
To summarize, your desire to knock on the Question-of-Exclusivity-Door is a sign of where you are and want to be.
Once you knock, you’ve got to accept “who’s there.” If you and your partner are not in agreement, try to take it as an early, fortunate sign that your partner isn’t ready. Then, know that you must move on. Heartaches and headaches can be avoided when we choose someone who DOES want to be a steadfast, faithful person in our lives. You will only take that step into the a Big Leagues when you truly belong there. In the mean time, search for a partner with similar exclusivity values, explore and practice being in relationship with him or her, then relax into living and loving the way you want and need to do.
Dr. Annie Ready Coffey – www.replenishmentandchange.com
When entertaining the idea of exclusivity with someone you are dating, make sure it is for the right reasons.
If it is out of jealousy or possessiveness please know the entire relationship will not work. Jealousy and possessiveness are very poor foundations from which to build a lasting relationship. Instead of rushing into exclusivity take your time and examine why you want it.
One of the issues today with developing lasting relationships is that they are based in infatuation.
“He makes me feel good” is infatuation! Infatuation always ends within three years. So when looking at exclusivity really ask yourself why you want it. If the reasons are that seeing him with someone else makes you crazy, or that you want him all to yourself, or he makes you feel so good that you can hardly stand it, then don’t do it. These are all sure-fire signs that this is infatuation. Why get yourself in deeper with an unhealthy situation that eventually you will have to get yourself out of?
If on the other hand, emotions are flowing in the middle (not high or low), you have great communication in times of stress, and you’re interested in exploring a deeper commitment, then have the talk.
The time to have the talk will rise naturally. If you see him out with someone, assess the situation. Is it a date or his sister? If it seems like a date, I would say “hello” and introduce myself to her but never question him about it. Clearly in his mind there is not exclusivity so don’t force it.
If someone asks you out and you have not had the talk, go out and have a good time.
Or ask him, “I’ve been asked out by someone else, would it bother you if I went?” That opens the door for a deeper relationship discussion. Do not game play this, only do it if it is real. Another option is at a moment that seems right ask, “Are we still dating other people?”
This is not a forced or rushed step. Instead, it is an opportunity to more deeply know a potential partner. Don’t rush it and trust a natural opening will happen when it is supposed to happen.
Cynthia Pickett, LCSW, LADC – www.cynthiapickett.com
He Says “I Love You”… But does he really mean it?
This 7 question quiz tells you if your man truly loves you or if he is just using you…
If you have to question if you are exclusive, then it’s time to talk to him.
Here’s why: because you’ve already asked yourself if you are exclusive so there are signs there that it may be going that way or there are things already happening where you want to clarify where you stand.
It’s also very common to have the exclusive discussion when you are sexually involved or you are thinking about being sexually involved. Have you already asked yourself if the two of you are exclusive? What signs are there that you are leading to exclusivity? Are the two of you sexually involved?
Exclusivity is an important aspect of a budding relationship.
It helps to build trust and safety. Those are key ingredients to a healthy relationship. Are you ready to begin a relationship with this person? If you are, then it’s appropriate to talk about it.
Talking about where the two of you stand can be scary, especially in the beginning when you are just getting to know someone.
Know that being scared is common and that feeling should be felt and worked through. This is a common recommendation that I give to clients. Feel your feelings and work through them. How do you usually face your fears? What feelings do you have coming up? How can you process your feelings?
The final part is to evaluate if this is a person you want to be exclusive with and what it means to you to be exclusive.
When you talk, you can discover if you have the same values when it comes to relationships. Take some time to reflect through journaling, meditation or therapy to explore what you are looking for out of a relationship. When your intentions are clear, you’ll be able to follow your intuition as to when it’s the right time to “have the talk”.
Amanda Patterson, LMHC – www.amandapattersonlmhc.com
Every person has their feelings and values about exclusivity. I suggest reflecting on the following topics to help you determine when the “right” time is for you to bring it up.
1. When is too soon?
This will depend on how much time you’re spending with each other, which affects the level of closeness you’ve established.
For relationships that are moving at a slow pace it can be too soon to bring this topic up in the first 1-3 months of dating, but in other relationships where the relationship is moving at faster pace it could be appropriate to bring this topic up after the first month of dating. As the author, Greg Behrendt, states: If he’s really into you he’s not going to shy away from this topic and it’s not going to matter when you bring it up.
2. What do you want?
First, be clear on how you feel and what you want.
Are you ready to stop dating other men? Even if you’re not dating someone else are you really clear that you want to be exclusive with the man you’re with or do you think you “have to” because it’s the “right” thing to do? If you don’t know how you really feel about your guy or what you want from exclusivity then it might be better to pause until you do know.
3. Boundaries and commitment.
Are you ready to be more considerate about boundaries with your male friends? Are you really ready to commit more time to the relationship? Part of exclusivity is making the decision to make more of a commitment, which includes agreeing to consider your boyfriend’s feelings about your male friends, making an equal effort with making time (or more time) for your boyfriend, and being more committed to the relationship.
4. What to say.
Be as open and honest as possible. Stick to “I statements”: “I” feel, “I” want, and exclusivity would provide “me”. For example: I really enjoy our time together, I really like (or love) you a lot, I’ve been enjoying getting to know you, and I’m ready to be exclusive. Are you willing and ready to be exclusive? Being exclusive would provide me the security and reassurance that we’re equally committed to each other, which would give me more freedom to increase my vulnerability with you, so our relationship can continue to grow and deepen. Are you ready to do that?
When it comes to this topic, regardless of how you imagine your boyfriend might react, it’s important you act in accordance to your values, needs, and wants. If your boyfriend is truly the “right” guy for you then he will be willing and ready to navigate this topic with you.
Laura Rinset, MS, LMFT – www.laurarinsetlmft.com
Nowadays society seems to have become label-obsessed. It appears as though we need categories for the pieces of our life to feel more in control.
The same is true for our relationships. Women especially like to know the future of their relationship and whether or not their partner will commit.
I totally get it and can relate to the desire for answers in our life, to know for certain whether something is worth our time or not.
Ladies, I challenge you to not get so wrapped up in the label and turn towards your inner knowing or in other words, your intuition.
Our intuition, or what I like to refer to as our “inner guide” can ease anxieties and help us solve life’s various challenges and problems.
Tune into your inner guide to inform you. Reflect on whether your partner is someone you have a desire to commit to. If so, instead of having the “exclusivity talk” shift away from the need to name label your relationship.
Instead, determine his commitment level to you.
See if he is willing to go to the next level in the relationship by assessing his actions. Talk is cheap, as the old cliché goes. Actions require more of people, like their time and energy.
Examples of assessing his commitment level include: inviting him to an event where he’ll meet your loved ones if he hasn’t already, ask him to participate in an activity or event which has great meaning to you, ask him to volunteer his time at a charity with you, and ask him to do something outside of his comfort zone and see how he responds.
If he is willing to enter the next stage of the relationship with you by engaging in actions that show you his love- the chances are good that he wants to be with you “exclusively”.
Just be mindful whether you are your best version of yourself with your partner. The greatest regret women have that I work with is feeling as though they lost years of the life by being with someone who wasn’t able to commit.
Trust your intuition. You know the answers after all.
Brooke Campbell, M.A., RDT-BCT, LCAT – www.creativekinections.com
When is the right time to talk about being exclusive with your romantic interest? How do you know he wants to be in an exclusive relationship with you?
This can be a difficult because nobody wants to feel like their life is in limbo. If you are seeing someone on and off over a few months, you are probably in a relationship that is more casual than serious. Basically, your beau is showing you the kind of commitment he has for you and is not making any strong effort to win you over. That exclusive talk may not be necessary.
If, on the other hand, he enjoys being with you, plans future dates and talks like he wants more than just a simple bed-mate, you may actually have a partner who is investing his time in you. But is the relationship really exclusive?
If you feel you are in an I-don’t-know-where-this-is-going kind of relationship you want to have the conversation. Saying nothing only makes things more awkward and prolongs the inevitable, if it should end. The anticipation and misery about where things are going is even worse than the uncomfortable conversation you are planning. Here’s how to start it:
You: “These past few months have been great and I really like you. It’s OK if you want to date other women, but I am looking for an exclusive relationship with the right person. I’m hoping you’re on the same page as me.”
Hopefully, his response is what you want to hear. If not, it’s good you find out sooner than later so you can be available for the awesome man who is really ready to commit to you.
Remember to ask questions.
This discussion can bring up much anxiety and some fear and, while you may be talking the same talk, you may not be completely understanding each other. So define your terms (difference between casual dating and serious relationship, exclusive and committed couple) for added clarity and awareness.
This conversation is vital to the integrity of your relationship.
After all, you are in an equal partnership and things must feel right for both of you. This means you have to be up front and say what you feel. Never make him feel pressured to be in a relationship he may not want and never lose your values if it’s something you don’t want also. Standing up for yourself is risky because it could mean an end to a relationship that is basically going well. But better to know what the future holds, than investing any more time or heart-felt emotions on him.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Learn Why Men Pull Away
There is a deep-seated “Gap” in communication that very few women (or men) understand.
It’s the #1 reason why men pull away.
To be truly irresistible to a man, you MUST understand this gap, and the way feelings of love get confused and entangled in a man’s mind…
Some questions to ask yourself are:
Did you meet as a one night stand? When and how often is he contacting you and for what purposes? Is he only calling you for a booty call, or are you doing other fun, intimate, non-sexual activities together? Most solid relationships begin slowly and continue to increase in days and moments shared together.
If you like someone after one date, give it at least 4-5 more dates.
Each time you get together, you should feel or see more of an interest from him. If not, then it is important to ask, “Where do you see this relationship going?” “Do you see a future together?”
If after this talk, you feel him distance from you, then he may be afraid of commitment, or may not see you as the right person. If he says he sees a future with you, but you don’t feel it progressing; then give yourself an internal time limit of how long you will let things linger (there is no right or wrong).
If after 1 month, 6 months, or 1 year (I would say is the limit) there is no progress, then tell yourself to move on.
If you break your time limit, then it may be time to look at yourself. Many women will want someone who does not want them, and will sacrifice themselves to try to attain the unattainable. An important question to ask yourself is, “Am I attracted to men who are emotionally and/or physically unavailable? Was this my experience with my care giver growing up?
There is research that supports how attachment styles persist form childhood into our romantic relationships.
We tend to duplicate the attachments we had in our parents/caregivers. If you tend to be attracted to men who don’t want to commit, then the best things to do is to explore yourself to understand why and to break the cycle.
Dr. Karen Hofmann – www.drkarenhofmann.com