Not knowing whether you’re in a committed or an exclusive relationship can be confusing and even frustrating. As relationship experts, we’re here to help you understand and explain the differences between exclusive and committed relationships to help you understand more about your current partnership.

What Does ‘Exclusive’ Mean in a Relationship?

Being in an exclusive relationship essentially means that you are not seeing anyone else and are on the path to a committed and meaningful relationship. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you are classified as ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’. Being exclusive also means that you are comfortable declaring that you are not seeing anyone else. If you are unsure whether or not you are in an exclusive relationship, it’s important to speak with your partner openly about this to ensure you’re both on the same page.

When Should You Become Exclusive in a Relationship?

Becoming exclusive in a relationship depends on a few things, namely how long you have been together, your emotional headspace and whether you’re both happy committing to a more serious and long-term relationship. It’s also important to realise that every couple is different – while some couples might decide to become exclusive after a few months, others may declare their relationship status after three dates. It’s all about what feels natural for you both.

Feeling unsure of whether you are or are not in an exclusive relationship can be quite stressful, so don’t be afraid to raise this topic. It is always better to speak openly about this to ensure no one ends up getting hurt due to miscommunication.

What is the Difference Between an Exclusive Relationship and a Committed Relationship?

It can be argued that an exclusive relationship means you are committed to the person you’re seeing but you aren’t yet in a full-fledged relationship. Your goal is to be committed to each other but you’re still either in the early stages of seeing each other or are simply enjoying the label-free aspect of the relationship.

A committed relationship, on the other hand, is when you are actively pursuing a future with this person. The main difference here is the focus on the long-term and a shared desire to discuss and pursue the same life goals or ambitions – such as finances, careers and maybe a family.

When Do You Become Exclusive in a Relationship and Have “The Talk”?

While being in an exclusive relationship does offer a sense of comfort and stability, if you want the relationship to progress, it’s important to be confident and speak openly about your desires with your partner. For some people, raising this topic might seem uncomfortable, but you must both be on the same page regarding the direction of your relationship. It’s never wise to simply assume you’re in a relationship, as this may lead to false expectations and disappointment further down the line – especially if your relationship stance isn’t reciprocated!

If you’re looking to take your exclusive relationship to the next level and you’re confident that your feelings will be reciprocated, here are a few tips on how to approach ‘the talk’:

Meet face to face

This doesn’t have to be a big deal but don’t belittle the moment by asking them out via text. Expressing your emotions is best done in person – it can’t be replicated over text or even a phone call. Speak from the heart and don’t rush, this should be an enjoyable and memorable moment.

Have an idea of what you’re going to say

We’re not saying you need a whole romantic speech prepared, but it’s important to be confident in your approach. You need to be able to explain why you want to be exclusive, and the characteristics of your partner that makes you want to commit and ask whether they share the same feelings.

Respect their response, regardless of the outcome

The ideal situation is that your partner reciprocates your feelings and if so, great! However, if they tell you they don’t feel the same way, you need to respect their choice and discuss where the relationship can go from here. You never know, they may simply need time to think about the prospect of going from ‘exclusive’ to ‘in a committed relationship’ (or vice versa) but if they don’t, try not to be disheartened. You should know their stance as opposed to never bringing it up and just guessing.

Can You Be Exclusive Without Being in a Relationship?

Technically yes, because exclusivity doesn’t necessarily mean you are in a fully committed or long-term relationship. Being exclusive simply means you are not seeing anyone else but that doesn’t mean that the relationship is on the path to becoming something more serious and long-term.

If your partner wants to become exclusive without being in a committed relationship, this may sound negative; but consider the possibility that they’re buying some time to get to know you better before committing to a full-fledged relationship. In the long term, this works to your benefit as it alleviates the pressure of labelling the relationship until your partner is comfortable doing so.

The important thing is to make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to defining your relationship. From here, you can have open discussions about the nature of your relationship and its direction.

Is Your Relationship Heading in the Right Direction?

Relationship ambiguity is difficult, confusing, and it can become stressful not knowing where your relationship is heading. Talking openly about your relationship is the best way to address any concerns and ultimately move things forward. However, if you and your partner find you’re hitting the same stumbling blocks, that’s where we can help.

As a professional matchmaking agency, we know how difficult it can be to navigate relationships while juggling a career and other responsibilities. We provide a personal and private date coaching service that focuses on all aspects and stages of a relationship.

If you would like to feel more confident when dating or are frustrated by the results you’re getting, then we can help you understand the reasons why. Whether you’re in a relationship and feel trapped or misunderstood or maybe you’re looking to take your relationship forward but aren’t sure how our date coaches provide the appropriate support to get the most out of your relationship.

Speak to one of our date coach specialists