Going on dates is fun; figuring out the long term potential is where uncertainty starts creeping in. Becoming exclusive, for many singles, means you’re in the mindset to be in a committed relationship. Don’t overthink it! That’s what we are here for, so let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Taking these important next steps in a budding relationship depends on your connection, your priorities, and to some extent, your personalities.
As a dater, you may feel as though you are expected to read someone’s mind or interpret their behavior as interest level, but it’s not. Gaining clarity requires conversation; however, knowing who should initiate it may be surrounded by gray areas. Here’s our Matchmaker’s perspective on when and how to have “the talk”. You WILL NOT kill any chemistry when determining exclusivity, it’s a bonding conversation aligning purposes.
Is there a magic number of dates?
Not every dating situation is the same. So, let’s break it down! Whether it’s your first date or you’ve been on countless dates, it must feel right. What’s important is to agree on when you move from dating to exclusivity. Actions speak loudly, but don’t define a relationship as committed.
At It’s Just Lunch, we typically hear from our clients that around dates three and four the mutual romantic connection starts maturing. This is the time the conversation can begin. The outcome of a mature conversation will create a deeper understanding of the person you’re interested in and give you the permission to show up authentically moving forward.
Having the conversation could potentially create worry around blowing the whole thing up! So it is ok to take your time, and make sure that you feel good about everything. When the “good” feeling shows up, that usually indicates you're ready for a conversation of clarity. And if a conversation is what blows things up, you know that you took a chance while being true to yourself for the opportunity of being in a healthy long-term relationship. Isn’t that the goal?
Signs you’re already exclusive
Are you sure you’re not already acting as if you’re exclusive? There may be signs that it just happened naturally – without a conversation. If you’re spending all your time together and dates have morphed into extended periods of time - phone conversations have gone from sporadic to regular - then, are either of you considering anyone else? Being a “regular” in someone's life that you’re dating is a good indicator that they, subconsciously, are already seeing the two of you as a couple. If so, taking it to the next level by being emotionally honest will allow the relationship to progress to the next level. In this case it’s definitely time to start talking!
Ease the conversation vs. being direct
Sometimes becoming exclusive occurs gradually, and the conversation will happen naturally over time. However, for others, it's a pivotal conversation and taking a reserved approach may be beneficial. If the topic feels pressing for either of you, it's important to raise it without creating heaviness - remember a relationship should be fun!
It’s a good and healthy practice to talk about your relationship regularly and to get used to sharing your feelings, so it should be a topic you revisit from time to time. Continuing to create clarity as dating progresses is what gives each of you the confidence in knowing where things stand. You should initiate the discussion as soon as it starts taking up space in your daily mind. Do not obsess over it; act on it. Remember the only person that has the answers that you seek is the person you’re interested in dating exclusively.
What is too little to discuss and what is too much?
As dating turns into a relationship it is an evolutionary discussion, so to simplify things the exclusivity talk is just about focusing on each other, not necessarily the important long term goals. You can establish this by sharing what having an exclusive relationship means to you, what it might look like in practice, and whether anything will change.
Eventually, it's also important to discuss what expectations and hopes you have of each other, and whether there are boundaries and ground rules you'd like to put in place. The more specific you can be, the better. It can help you come to a position of clarity and compromise. If the conversation exposes differences between you, view these differences as opportunities of further discovery into what makes someone tick. And start small - as you grow together the conversation will come.
Above all, it’s essential that you both listen to each other and respect each other’s point of view. If you feel overwhelmed by the other’s intensity of feelings and like it’s all moving too fast, try to explain why you’re feeling this way. Remember that both of you will be feeling vulnerable and hearing what each other is saying will begin to build the foundations of a strong relationship, whether this starts today, tomorrow or sometime in the future.
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