“Dating – Just getting to know each other but you know you have other options as well.
Exclusively Dating–You’ve agreed that you’re only talking to each other but you’re still in the getting to know each other phase
Boyfriend/Girlfriend–You’ve made your relationship official and you’re off the market.“
The above conversation came from Reddit and I found it simple and easy to understand. Yes, the new dating jargon that the gen-Zers use is tricky, but then their relationships are also far more nuanced than the non-Gen-Zers. It’s easy to get confused between casual dating, dating exclusively, and a committed relationship, especially since nobody really talks about it.
What defines these and are the terms universal? The deal with labels is they are not universally understood and may change depending on where you are and what your dynamic is like. Even so, there is no issue with labels. The issue is in clearly communicating what they mean. And yes we think exclusive dating and being committed are closely connected.
What Is The Meaning Of Exclusive Dating?
The idea of dating exclusively is to stop dating other people and be romantically involved with just one, your partner. It is when you have been dating for a while and feel that there is a deep connection between the two of you. In the dating game, once you start seeing someone, it is always casual at first.
“Let’s see where this goes” is the common consensus. Yet, you also keep a watch for other possible suitors, but once you have gone out with the person long enough to feel there’s something here, the idea of exclusive dating will cross your mind.
Simply put, it’s when the people involved stop looking out for others and start dating exclusively. They date each other to the exclusion of everyone else. That’s when it is called exclusive dating.
Exclusive dating is a modern dating norm and is used by people who still have doubts about commitment, but wouldn’t want to miss out on something worthwhile. So yes, if you are dating someone exclusively, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re both in a committed relationship.
Simply put, exclusive dating does not make you a boyfriend/girlfriend.
Many people mistake exclusive dating for a committed relationship, but it is not the same thing. Dating exclusively implies not dating anyone else, and it is more like an experiment than a full commitment. If you are talking about dating exclusively versus a relationship, then in the former, one is still testing the waters, and in the latter, they have committed after having tested the waters.
Couples who are dating exclusively still screen each other, and not every other prospect that’s coming their way. Dating exclusively is the step right before being in a serious committed relationship which means you envisage a future together (unless something goes wrong). However, even if you are in the exclusive dating stage, you may still have backup people who can be called to the forefront if the relationship does not develop into a full-fledged relationship.
Hopefully, the meaning of exclusive dating is now clear to you. Maybe the only thing that isn’t clear is what you’re going to introduce this person as if you bump into an old friend. Partner? No, that’s too official. Friend? No, too casual. Date? Bingo!
Related Reading: Fishing Dating – The New Dating Trend
How do you characterise dating exclusively?
If all the text on dating exclusively has got you confused, here’s a takeaway for the exclusively dating meaning in bite-sized bullet points that should do the trick:
- It involves not dating/meeting new people of the opposite sex intending to date till the time you are together
- It is more serious than casual flings but is not yet a committed relationship
- It is a perusal of a committed relationship – which may or may not happen
- Exclusive dating often results when partners feel like knowing more about each other before actually committing
- You are not seeing other people right now, but you may have someone in mind in case things do not work out
When it comes down to it, it really isn’t rocket science. Some people might reach the stage of dating exclusively without even thinking about it. Which begs the question, how do you know when you’ve reached this stage? Now that you’re well versed with exclusively dating meaning, let’s try to understand the steps that take place before you actually reach this juncture.
How do you reach the “exclusively dating but not in a relationship” stage?
What is exclusive dating, what is expected of partners during this phase, and what the future holds are all understood, but how exactly do you reach this phase? Do you just wake up one day and decide you’re now both exclusive but not official? Do you just assume exclusivity and hope for the best?
Well, no. As we all know, being in the “dating stage” in itself is a tricky undertaking. Questions like “How much do I text him/her?” and “Am I allowed to call him/her cute names by now?” might go through your mind, and then of course, there’s the question of physical intimacy.
Does physical intimacy happen before or after you’ve decided you’re going to be dating exclusively? Or should you wait till you’re in a committed relationship? What’s normal? What’s expected? Why can’t anything ever be straightforward?!
While all these questions may have got you worked up, the solution is a very simple one: honest and open communication. Assuming exclusivity will most definitely end up in a messy situation, one that could’ve been easily avoidable by a simple conversation. Overanalyzing physical intimacy? Make your mind up and share your expectations with your partner.
Consider the example of Adam, 24, a software engineer who’d been out with Stacey on 6-7 dates. “It was too soon to ask for a committed relationship since even I wasn’t sure I wanted one. But I really liked her and didn’t want her to think I was just wasting her time. for the longest time, I was hoping she’d get the hint,” says Adam.
“Immediately realizing that hints aren’t going to cut it, I ended up gathering all the courage I could and had a conversation with Stacey about dating exclusively. Thankfully, she was on board,” he adds.
Casual dating vs exclusive dating
Just in case you’re still confused about the dynamics of casual dating vs exclusive dating, let’s quickly breeze over them before we can move on. Casual dating, as the name suggests, means a no-strings-attached, no-commitment relationship between two people.
People who like spending time with each other, who may go out on dates but do not want a committed relationship might term their dynamic as casual dating. There may or may not be sex involved (although there usually is) and they may or may not be exclusive (although they usually aren’t).
The main difference between casual dating vs exclusive dating is the absence of the prospect of a committed relationship in the future. In casual dating, the people involved are strictly against the idea of ever being committed to each other, while as you know by now, an exclusively dating scenario counts on it.
When we talk about being in a relationship, we are essentially seeing someone as our future spouse or as a partner. Relationships function with the future as their base. So, now let us figure –
How Is Exclusive Dating Different From A Relationship?
As similar as it sounds, exclusive dating is very different from a relationship. It is, therefore, necessary to understand what you are getting into before going in with other expectations. Exclusive dating has its own rules, meaning and often results in a different experience than a committed relationship. Here is how exclusive dating is different from an actual relationship:
- In a relationship, you are in love and there is no commitment issue. In exclusive dating, you’re not yet ready to commit, but you’re getting there.
- There are so many late-night conversations about your emotions, your feelings, and your future. Conversations in exclusive dating lack emotional bonding. You want to enjoy the present without worrying about your future together
- Open up, you’ve got a billion expectations coming your way. Expectations of meetig the family, knowing all about each other, moving in together, and so much more. Exclusive dating follows the rule of low expectations and no heartbreak
- It is official when you are in a relationship. Your partner is always your plus-one, without any conditions. If you are exclusively dating, it means that it may or may not become official; hence insecurity creeps in
- You don’t mind leaving your stuff at each other’s places if you are in a relationship. Expect your things to be returned the next day if you are dating exclusively
To progress from exclusive dating to relationship status, you must adhere to the simple yet critical dating rules. When you end up following the rules of exclusive dating, the entire process is smooth and you move from being together to being in a relationship.
Related Reading: Situationship – Meaning And 10 Signs You Are In One
12 Rules To Follow When You Are Dating Exclusively
Exclusive dating is a tricky affair, as you know that you are not dating anyone else, but you might not feel different. It is exclusive but not official and that is something that eventually comes up. Mixed emotions, doubts, and all kinds of insecurities begin to creep in, only to ruin what you have. Follow these 12 golden exclusive dating rules to keep it going. In other words, follow our exclusive dating advice.
1. When you’re exclusive but not official, establish ground rules first
It is important to talk about what you are getting into. Ground rules need to be set to ensure that both of you are on the same page. Communication is the key to healthy exclusive dating.
Maya found out the hard way that not communicating the ground rules can often end up jeopardizing the whole dynamic. “I went on a couple of dates with this guy and I really liked him, but I decided it’d be too soon to discuss anything with him. A day after our 5th date, I saw him posting a story with another woman, out on a date with her. Needless to say, my heart sank.”
While it’s not the end of the world, it’s still a situation Maya could’ve avoided had she talked to the guy she was dating.
2. Give your partner some space
One should respect their partner’s personal space. They’ve just let you into their life, don’t push them away by asking too many questions. Give them the space they need and they will eventually let you in when they are comfortable enough to share a larger part of their life with you. Don’t become clingy and needy.
Stop asking too many questions about his/her friends and family. That territory comes with its baggage. Space is how exclusive dating demarcates itself from a committed relationship.
3. Stop exploring dating sites
Now that you are dating exclusively, you should go inactive on online dating sites, since you’d expect your partner to do the same. These apps and sites will only tempt you into exploring more options. Even if you check out the sites for fun, it could make your partner insecure, because your relationship hasn’t been defined yet and you don’t want an app to break you up.
Also, a friend of your partner may see your profile and that could spell disaster for something that could have been something big. Think about it, what if he had done the same to you? What if someone you knew told you he still had a profile on dating apps? Yes, it would make you doubt the entire relationship, right?
4. Keep your insecurities in check
There is no reason to be insecure about someone you’re dating exclusively. There could be trust issues and the fear of him/her going behind your back and dating other girls, but you have to go with your gut and trust him. If there is no sense of trust, then your relationship is doomed anyway. Being insecure does more harm than good and especially if you are dating.
5. Don’t bring up their past just yet
Avoid bringing up their past relationships and exes in conversations. There is no need to do that. The past has nothing to do with your present. Everyone has past baggage and processes it in their own way. Live in the present and make the most of it.
Even though you’d want to know all about your partner’s dating history to try and grasp them better, now isn’t really the time to do so. If you do manage to get more comfortable with them, however, you can possibly think about bringing up the topic, if they’re willing to talk about it.
Related Reading: Is Caspering Less Brutal Than Ghosting?
6. While you’re at it, don’t bring up the future either
You have known your partner for a while now and think that there could be a future in there. It’s possible you may be yearning for a conclusive answer as well. But you must keep those feelings to yourself. Perhaps you want him to introduce you to his/her parents, you mustn’t make too big a deal out of this.
Try not to pressure your partner into anything, without really having a conversation with them about what your expectations are. If you’re pressuring your partner to introduce his/her friends to you, you might just end up pushing them away instead of establishing something more solid.
7. Lower your expectations
Expecting your partner to fall in love with you just like in romantic comedies will most definitely end badly. If you’re daydreaming about a vacation with this person and you’re secretly expecting them to surprise you with one, the only surprise you’re going to get is them slowly pushing themselves away from you, noticing just how clingy you’re being.
You could try to control your expectations in the following regards:
- Do not compare him/her to your exes (you will only compare what was good about your ex and probably not what your current partner is good at)
- Do not expect him/her to make plans every time, you should do it as well.
- Expect him/her to make time for you, but do not expect to be the centre of his/her world
Keeping expectations low will help in remaining satisfied with what you have and let time work wonders.
8. Spend more time together
Now that you both have gotten comfortable with each other, spend more time together. Go out more frequently and have more casual meet-ups. Share your day’s activities. Get to know how the person is when you both are not on a date. Spending more time together will help you understand your partner better.
9. Don’t go all in
If you’re the hopeless romantic kind, you may be tempted to tell this person how much you “love” them just after a couple of dates. Try to calm yourself down, take a cold shower and consider the possibility that you might just be infatuated, not in love.
Going in all the way and opening yourself up to him/her is not something your partner could be ready for. Don’t mistake exclusive dating for a relationship. Keep the deep and intense parts of your life under wraps. Bringing such things up will only hurt you in the end if things get ugly.
10. Focus on the fun
Avoid establishing an emotional relationship with him. Emotions and feelings do not do very well in exclusive dating. The idea of dating exclusively is to establish a healthy relationship with a person which involves a more friendly and fun relationship than an emotional one.
It is so because even if things end, you feel that you had a good run and there are no ill feelings or heartbreaks.
11. You don’t need to go public with it
You and your partner can befriend each other on social media and tag each other in memes. A friendly chat on social media is harmless, but uploading a story AND a post with this person in the first few weeks might just scare them away. Don’t forget that at the end of the day, you’re exclusively dating but not in a relationship.
Of course, you might be itching to tell your friends about this new person you found who you just can’t seem to get enough of, but try and not talk about them too much. If in the unfortunate event when your exclusive dating relationship falls through, you don’t want your friends constantly reminding you about this person by asking you for updates every now and then, since you spoke so highly of them.
12. Reminder: Exclusive dating is not a relationship
As annoying as it sounds, you need to keep reminding yourself that you are not in a relationship. This will keep you from doing any cutesy relationship stuff and expecting to be treated like you’re in the most adorable relationship already. Dating exclusively is just a step towards commitment. It may not even turn out to be committed and you need to be prepared for that.
So it is up to you to see whether what you want is a fun exclusive dating thing or a committed relationship. Think about whether you want a no-drama great fun scenario that is a ticking bomb, or an ongoing relationship that gives you some peace of mind. The choice is yours; you need to decide whether you want to play by the rules or end the game. Exclusive relationship vs a committed relationship – the choice is yours.
There’s no real set amount of time you should date before a relationship, it all depends on what the partners find comfortable and what seems to be a good amount of time for them. Even so, most people can generally agree that exclusively dating for three to four months is usually a good idea before a relationship.
The best way to find out if you are exclusively dating is to talk to your partner about it and have a conversation with them about it. Do they expect exclusivity? Are they not ready for a committed relationship yet? Questions like these will help you figure out what you need to know.
If you’ve both discussed that you won’t be exclusive to each other, sexual relations with someone else can not be considered cheating. If you’ve assumed that you’re both now exclusive, it still does not count as cheating. Cheating can be defined as such only after you and your partner have discussed exclusivity and decided to be exclusive.