How long should you date before becoming exclusive? It’s a tricky question, right? Especially as the dating world becomes ever-more complicated. Are you coming on too strong, getting mixed messages, or perhaps unsure how fast or slow to take it yourself? What pace is the right pace? What’s right for both you and them? Well my friends, let’s explore…
Things To Consider Before Becoming Exclusive
So in order to know how long you should date before becoming exclusive, you have to first take a few things into consideration (as these are all determining factors.)
1) How Long Have You Been Single?
How long you’ve been single is a huge determining factor in how long you should date before becoming exclusive. You have to have had enough time on your own before jumping into a new relationship.
Now, what’s “enough” for one person, may not be enough for another. So there’s no right or wrong answer on the exact timescale this should run on, or how long it should be. However, it is worth considering:
Have I really had enough time being single here, or am I just telling myself that because I’m craving the security of a relationship again?
Because that’s the big thing. You need to reach the point of being truly happily single, and only you will know (deep down) when you’re actually in that place.
In order to get there, you will have to have had some challenges, you most likely will have reached rock bottom, you’ll have had some times of intense loneliness, you’ll have faced your demons, you’ll have focused on building yourself up again, you’ll have experienced a lot on your own.
Like I said, it’s slightly different for each person and each person’s journey is different. But I can’t stress enough how much you need this time – not only for yourself, but also because when it does then come to dating, you’ll be in a far better place. This leads me onto my next point…
2) Have You Had Enough Time Dating?
You have to “date around” to know what you do and don’t like. If you’re later in life, you won’t need so much dating around when you’re first single because you’ll be far clearer on this, but – particularly when you’re in your 20’s – this is an important stage.
It’s also important to do after every breakup (once you’ve fulled healed and are ready) because life changes, you therefore change so what you may want and need can shift.
Another thing to recognise is what you THINK you may want, may not actually be what you’re compatible with. I remember meeting a real alpha male, he was crazily driven, super strong-minded and I thought,
Yes – this is exactly my kinda guy!
But he wasn’t. And I only knew that by dating him for a couple of months, experiencing it and learning that ON PAPER, it would be great for me, but in reality, there’s certain things I don’t like and certain things I don’t work well with.
It’s also important to have had those experiences dating before becoming exclusive with a person because let’s say you do meet someone you click with – is simply clicking with someone enough? You need to have things to measure this person against so that you know if they are truly the best person for you.
And that doesn’t mean you have to date everyone in the whole city to know who is the very best of the best (that’s the problem with apps right – they give you too many options and make you think there’s always someone better out there.) That’s not healthy.
But what is healthy, is to have a better understanding – based on experience – when something is special and real, and actually truly worth investing more time into.
3) Do You Know What You Want?
Building on my last point now, it’s so important to not go into something new, blind. Before you should consider moving things forward with a person make sure you’ve determined:
- What are your wants in a partner?
- And what are your needs?
- Do you have any deal-breakers?
- What’s truly important to you? And why?
- What values to they need to have? (In order to match your own.)
- What kind of relationship are you looking to build?
Once you create this bigger picture in your head and have this “tick-list” if you like, for the core fundamentals that you can’t budge on (and these can’t be petty or small), then when you do meet someone, you’ll know if it’s right to move things through to something more exclusive, or whether you need more time to work that out.
There’s a saying in dating: “Don’t go to the supermarket when you don’t know what you’re looking for. You’ll come back with all sorts. Things that might LOOK good for you, but are full of hidden nasties. So be smart and get clear!”
4) Where Are You Currently At?
Now maybe you’ve been single for a while, you know what you want, BUT you still may not be ready to settle down. Maybe there’s still things you want to work on – areas of yourself that you’re not 100% happy with and that you want to work through before finding the right partner, to make that new relationship far easier.
Or perhaps there’s still things you want to do – things you want to experience before you find other half. This could be dating in a big city, traveling alone, focusing on work or your career.
See, what I think it is so important to highlight here is that being single is not just a status. It’s not this time in-between relationships where the goal has to instantly be a new relationship. Being single is a section of your life in it’s own right, and it’s not to be underrated.
With that being said, is you ARE currently ready for a relationship, and you then do find someone you instantly click with, that will make the answer to how long you should date before becoming exclusive, actually far easier.
How Long Should You Date Before Becoming Exclusive?
So, how long should you date before becoming exclusive? Well, let’s say you’ve been single a while, are clear on what you want, have had plenty (of both good and bad) dating experiences, and you’re in a good place, not NEEDING a relationship but WANTING one. (Tick, tick, tick, tick – great stuff!) Let’s say you then meet a guy and he seems – very nearly – perfect. However, I want you to also now consider:
1) It Takes Time To Get To Know Someone
You could be ruling yourself off to other people, getting more emotionally invested and potentially setting yourself up for pain (not to mention wasting time) by allowing yourself to get swept up with this one person – and only this person – before fully knowing if they’re deserving of it. Remember, it takes time to get to know a person. How much time? Well, click here to find out.
2) You Might Be Building Him Up In Your Head
So the task above got you to look at how well you know him, now – I want us to look at whether you’re seeing him for who he really is. Here – bob on through to this post before reading any further, because there’s a quick exercise here that will get you clear on that.
3) Your Feelings May Not Be As Real As You Think
So I know what you’re thinking, “But I really likeeee him.” [moany voice] I know this, because I’ve said it myself. But I want to challenge these intense feelings – especially if they’ve come on very fast.
See, sometimes you can think you feel a way, and yes – you do like the person, yes, what you have is probably pretty special and there is something genuine and real there… but at the same time, when you’ve wanted something for a long time, then you finally meet someone you click with, you can build them (and the whole relationship) up in your head, like we explored here.
If you’re making it more than it possibly is, you’re going to think you feel deeper than you actually do. It’s like when you love the idea of being in love, more than you actually “love” that individual person. That’s why it goes back to being in the right place and fully happy in yourself so that you know you’re thinking more rationally and acting out of this “love” as opposed to loneliness.
You know your feelings aren’t as real as you thought they were, if you find the person you’re dating, often disappoints you. Maybe they let you down a lot, or do things you didn’t think they would or could. This is because they’re not matching up to who you’ve built them up to be in your head. And so it’s in these moments where we need to slow down, take a step back and ask – where is this actually at?
Do What Feels Right
When it comes to deciding how long is the right amount of time to date before becoming exclusive, ultimately, you have to do what feels right for you. Just remember:
1) Being Exclusive Is Different To Being in a Relationship
Becoming exclusive doesn’t mean you have to spend the rest of your life with this person. It doesn’t have to be a huge deal, this mad, scary commitment.
It just means that you recognise there’s real potential with this person, that makes you not particularly interested in anyone else and so – for this moment in time – you do want to put your time and focus onto this one person. To give them a proper shot.
It’s good to look at it this way. It also reminds you that, if this person isn’t right, you can still walk away. Becoming exclusive is a step in the right direction towards a relationship, but it doesn’t guarantee a relationship. So it doesn’t make you tied to that person forever!
2) Exclusivity May Just Come Naturally
Becoming exclusive doesn’t even necessarily have to be spoken about. Not in a big way anyway. If you’re wondering where you’re at or what you are, don’t be afraid to ask. But you might find it just naturally goes that way.
You’re both enjoying each other’s company, you’re both naturally on the same page and you may find you stop seeing other people, and know the other person is probably doing the same, but that’s out of preference, as opposed to obligation.
3) Don’t Stress Over The Small Stuff
At the end of the day, it all comes down to a label… And you don’t NEED to be bogged down by labels. They’re nothing to stress about and they don’t need to be a big thing.
What matters is the foundations you build, how well you’re getting to know this person, whether the relationship is starting to flourish in the right way, whether it continues to go in the right direction.
As long as there’s mutual respect there, mutual interest, the same amount of effort coming from both sides – if it’s going to progress into a relationship, it still will.
Sometimes it’s better to actually NOT know what the other person is doing when they’re free and single. In fact, by knowing, it can send your brain into overdrive and end up making you PANIC and rush things too soon.
So try to take a step back. Don’t focus on anyone else. Instead, when you’re dating a person and with that person, focus on the two of you and what you have and how you feel.
Let’s Round It Up Here
New relationships can be confusing. But the right ones – they don’t make you feel stressed, uncertain or insecure. It’s really important to recognise that.
If you feel like you have to try to push exclusivity to feel happier and more secure, if you feel uncomfortable and this bad feeling in the pit of your stomach – it’s your gut feelings trying to tell you something.
Never push, never rush and never ignore those niggling feelings. Because they’re there for a reason. And if they’re not – simply enjoy the process of getting to know this person.
Whether they have a temporary or permanent place in your life, appreciate it, enjoy it and know that things will naturally work out with the right people – the people who are meant to stay.
So best of luck. I hope this helps.