The Exclusive Relationship Rulebook: 11 Must-Know Tips for Making It Official

So you've been seeing someone special for a while now, and you're ready to take the plunge into an exclusive relationship. 

But wait! 

Before you DTR (define the relationship), there are some key things you should know first. 

Going from casual dating to girlfriend/boyfriend status is a big step, and you want to make sure you're both on the same page. 

This transition requires open communication, aligned values, and understanding. 

While exciting, exclusivity isn't something to jump into blindly. 

Read on for tips to help you navigate this new phase of dating smartly and successfully.

What Is An Exclusive Relationship?

An exclusive relationship is defined as a monogamous romantic partnership where both individuals agree not to date or become romantically involved with other people. 

Partners in an exclusive relationship commit to devote their full romantic attention, care, and intimacy only to each other. 

couple sitting by ocean talking Dating Exclusively

Exclusivity implies certain boundaries and expectations around fidelity, priority, and not pursuing romantic opportunities outside of the relationship. 

An exclusive relationship signifies deepening feelings, increasing investment, and a growing commitment between two people.

Dating Exclusively: 11 Tips for Making It Official

You've decided it's time to stop seeing other people and make your relationship exclusive. While thrilling, this transition can also feel daunting.

To ensure you start this new phase of your relationship strong, keep these 11 essential tips in mind when having the exclusivity talk and establishing ground rules.

1. Set Aside Time for an Open Conversation

Having the exclusivity talk requires your full attention and honesty from both parties. Set aside time for an in-person discussion free of distractions. Turn off your phones, make eye contact, and be prepared to listen. Rushing this conversation can leave things unsaid. 

2. Define What Exclusivity Means to You 

Make sure you're on the same page about what being exclusive looks like. Are you comfortable with them hanging out one-on-one with exes? What about texting past hookups? Discuss boundaries and clarify what monogamy means to both of you. Expectations around fidelity and communication should be explicit.

3. Align on Relationship Values

An exclusive relationship only works if your core values align. What are your stances on bigger issues like politics, future goals, or religion? Now's the time to dig deeper to see if you're compatible in areas that matter most. Getting on the same page will strengthen your bond.

4. Agree on a Timeline  

Going exclusive is a big step, so don't rush into it without consideration. Make sure you're both comfortable with the pacing of your relationship progression. Set agreed-upon markers to reassess how things are going after a month or two of being exclusive.

5. Establish Open Communication

The foundation of an exclusive relationship is trust and communication. Agree to share feelings, needs, and concerns proactively. Small issues get bigger when left unaddressed. Fostering honest and thoughtful communication makes a relationship stronger.

6. Discuss Your Dating History 

Entering an exclusive relationship means your romantic history now matters to your new partner. Kindly discuss your past experiences and relationships that shaped who you are. Sharing this shows vulnerability and helps avoid hurt feelings down the line. 

couple sitting facing each other holding hands Dating Exclusively

7. Remove Online Dating Profiles

An important symbolic gesture is deleting your online dating apps and dating profiles. This tangible action requires vulnerability and shows you're ready for commitment. Just removing the apps but not the profile leaves the door open. Complete removal says you're all in.

8. Introduce Each Other to Friends and Family  

Now that you're exclusive, it's time for your partner to meet your inner circle. Organize low-pressure group hangouts first to take the pressure off. Then, plan one-on-one time with those most important to you. Integrating your new love into your broader community solidifies your bond.

9. Make Time for Each Other

When you only have eyes for one person, be sure to prioritize them. Plan regular date nights and quality time together, just the two of you. Don't take your partner for granted. Set aside dedicated time to nurture your new exclusive relationship. 

10. Discuss Exclusivity Timeline 

Have an open chat about timing. Are you exclusive indefinitely or just testing the waters for now? Agree on a timeframe and sync up on the level of commitment you both feel. Revisit the status of your exclusivity after a few months to check in.

11. Trust Your Instincts

At the end of the day, enter exclusivity when it feels right, not rushed. Trust actions over words and listen to your heart. If you're not ready, be honest. Forcing exclusivity too soon can derail a promising connection. Wait until you're both fully on board.

Exclusively Dating vs. Relationship: What Are the Differences?

When you start dating someone exclusively, you may wonder how this differs from being in an official relationship. While exclusivity is a big step, some key distinctions exist between dating exclusively and being boyfriend/girlfriend.

  • Exclusive Dating: You only see each other, but the level of commitment is still being established. There's still uncertainty.
  • Relationship: You have fully committed to each other as partners. There is an established level of trust, intimacy, and shared vision of the future.
  • Exclusive Dating: Your life is still fairly separate. Family or friends may not know about each other.
  • Relationship: Your lives are integrated. You've met each other's families and involve each other in social life.
  • Exclusive Dating: Certain future plans may still feel ambiguous or uncertain.
  • Relationship: You are making clear plans and timelines for your joint future together.
  • Exclusive Dating: Your commitment timeline may be short-term or open-ended.
  • Relationship: You have committed to a long-term relationship with no definite end.

The lines can be blurry, but these contrasts help highlight the differing levels of investment, intimacy, and certainty.

How to Ask Someone to Be in an Exclusive Relationship

Ready to have the talk and make it officially exclusive?

Broaching this conversation takes courage and vulnerability. Here's how to ask with care:

Set the Stage Thoughtfully 

Give them a heads up you want to discuss taking the next step in your relationship. Schedule a time when you're both free of distractions and can be fully present.

couple walking outdoors Dating Exclusively

Speak from the Heart 

Open up about your growing feelings and share authentically why you see long-term potential. Use sincere “I” statements rather than demands.

Make Them Feel Valued

Emphasize how much you enjoy them and all they add to your life. Make it clear you want exclusivity with them specifically because they mean so much to you.

Suggest Meeting Important People

Propose taking your relationship public by meeting each other's friends and family. Integrating your lives signals you're ready for commitment. 

Listen to Their Perspective

After sharing your thoughts, listen attentively to theirs. Be prepared to hear they may want to keep dating casually. Don't get defensive; hear them out. They may just need more time to reach the same page.

Suggest a Trial Run

If they seem hesitant, suggest a short exclusivity trial, like one month. Reassess after the trial and see if you both feel ready to continue. Offering a test phase lowers pressure.

Revisit Later If Needed

If they express wanting more time, respect that. Suggest revisiting the conversation in a few weeks. Rushing into exclusivity could backfire.

Signs You Are Ready for an Exclusive Relationship

How do you know when it's time to start dating someone exclusively? Here are ten key signs that indicate you may be ready to take the next step:

  • You spend most of your free time together and don't feel the need to date around anymore.
  • You regularly have deep talks about meaningful topics and feel emotionally close.
  • You feel jealous or upset at the thought of them dating other people.
  • You have met each other's friends and family members.
  • You make future plans beyond just the next date.
  • You trust each other, communicate openly, and are able to resolve conflicts well.
  • You align on major values, want the same things out of life, and share core beliefs.
  • You miss them when apart, and they feel like a priority in your life.
  • You are interested in physical intimacy with just them.
  • You don't feel scared or hesitant about the idea of commitment.

When you notice multiple signs above, it may be time to make it exclusive! Trust your gut instinct, too.

Signs You Are Not Ready for an Exclusive Relationship

How do you know if you should pump the brakes before rushing into an exclusive relationship? Here are ten red flags signaling you may need more time:

  • You want to keep your options open and continue dating around.
  • You crave flirting, intimacy, or romantic attention from people other than them.
  • The idea of exclusivity makes you feel scared, panicked, or trapped.
  • You have major hesitations or doubts about their personality or behaviors.
  • Your lives are completely separate, with no signs of integration.
  • You fight frequently over big issues and have poor communication.
  • Your future priorities and vision for life seem incompatible.
  • You don’t trust them fully and have trouble being vulnerable around them.
  • The relationship feels one-sided or imbalanced.
  • You value having your own space and alone time over being together.

If the above resonates, listen to your gut. You likely need more time dating casually before committing. There's no need to rush.

Does Being Exclusive Mean You Should Move In Together?

Becoming exclusive is an exciting relationship milestone. However, while commitment is deepening, moving in together can be premature. An exclusive relationship does not necessarily mean you have to cohabit right away. 

Rushing to live together too soon could damage a blossoming romance. It's wise to let the relationship progress further before combining homes. Enjoy building intimacy and getting to know each other better while still having your own spaces. 

Moving in is a big step that requires a high level of trust, shared vision, and compatibility under one roof. Let your exclusive relationship solidify before taking the plunge to shack up.

Final Thoughts

Transitioning to an exclusive relationship is a meaningful turning point. Approach it thoughtfully, communicatively, and patiently. Make sure you and your partner align on relationship values, share the same vision, and are open to compromise. If the love and connection are there, exclusivity can be a special new chapter. Enjoy nurturing your bond.