11 Signs You Are In An Exclusive Relationship & What It Means

From spending time together to meeting their loved ones, signs that you need to look out for

Reviewed by Dr Nancy B Irwin, PsyD Dr Nancy B Irwin Dr Nancy B IrwinPsyD facebook_icontwitter_iconlinkedin_iconyoutube_iconinsta_icon
Written by , Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Sneha Tete Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Experience: 4 years
Edited by , MA (English) Subhrojyoti Mukherjee MA (English) linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Fact-checked by , MA Gracia Odile MA linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years

You have been dating someone for a while, and things are going pretty well. However, you have not yet put a label on your relationship. So, how do you introduce your partner to your acquaintances? Are you having fun, or is the relationship serious? Well, relationships have undoubtedly become complicated in a world where people keep tiptoeing around their feelings.

Our minds go haywire with relationship ambiguities – you wonder, what does exclusive mean in a relationship? When to go exclusive in a relationship? How long to date before an exclusive relationship? What does this person mean to me? But wait! Before you worry over these mind-boggling questions, check out our article. Here is everything you want to know about an exclusive relationship. Scroll down.

What Does Exclusive Mean In A Relationship?

What is exclusive relationship
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An exclusive relationship means that you and your partner are dating only each other. A serious relationship needs to be exclusive or monogamous. In this relationship, you stop exploring other options or going on blind dates. You also uninstall the dating apps from your phone and look forward to getting closer and emotionally connected to your partner. Moreover, an exclusive relationship is taking a step further from dating. You move in together, consider your life goals with your partner, and the discourse shifts from “I” to “We”.

Does being exclusive mean the same as being in a relationship? Not necessarily. So, what is the difference between exclusive dating and a relationship? Can a casual relationship be exclusive? Yes, it can if both parties are willing. There are certain things to consider when it comes to exclusive dating vs. relationships. Keep reading for your answer.

Difference Between Exclusive Dating And A Relationship

Couple in a relationship
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The difference between being exclusive vs. being in a relationship may be confusing. When you are exclusive with someone, you are not seeing other people. This is not the same as being someone’s boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner. However, exclusive dating is a step towards a committed relationship. It is when you like each other enough to stop exploring other avenues but not there yet when it comes to your feelings.

Dating, exclusive relationship, and commitment are transitional phases. A serious relationship needs to be exclusive, but before that, you should know if your partner is ready for it. When you are dating exclusively, it means you are somewhere in between seeing your partner casually and being in a full-fledged relationship. It is like an internship before you get a full-time job. You are still testing the waters and would like to know them better before taking the plunge.

Before you think about how long you should be exclusive before starting a relationship, it is vital to understand if your relationship shows signs of being exclusive. Check out our next section to find out the clear signs of an exclusive relationship.

11 Signs Your Relationship Is Exclusive

Signs you are in an exclusive relationship
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Maybe you have been seeing someone but have not come clean with each other about what you want from this relationship. Are you just hanging out? Do you see them in your future? Would you like this to move towards a mutually exclusive relationship? Before you decide to talk with them, know the signs that indicate what you have is exclusive.

1. You Already Seem Like You Are In An Exclusive Relationship

Even though you have not labeled your relationship, you already seem like a couple. No matter the longevity of the relationship. You do not desire to meet new people or leave each other anytime soon. This is one of the major signs that you are ready to move from casual dating to an exclusive relationship.

2. You Like Spending Time With Your Special Person

Couple spending time together in exclusive relationship
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One of the prime exclusive relationship rules is communication. If you speak to them regularly and make plans to meet them often, not just for sex, things might get serious. Your special person is already a significant part of your life, and you love spending time with them. You want to share your life with them and can see a future with them.

3. You Have Met Their Acquaintances

If you have met their friends and family and joined them at certain family events, you are probably ready to shift from being exclusive to a relationship. You may have met their co-workers and talked to their friends even in their absence. Being in an exclusive relationship also means being an integral part of your partner’s social circle, and it is great if you are looking for something serious. Being friends with their friends is one of the most wholesome feelings that can also indicate the permanence of the relationship.

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You also feel their acquaintances’ approval of you is important as it influences your partner’s perspective. You fear not being perceived as the one for them and this is a major sign that you are in, or wish to be in an exclusive relationship.

4. Arguments Are Not Deal Breakers

Couple arguing in exclusive relationship
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Arguments are inevitable in relationships, even more so when you have started seeing each other. If you and your partner have had a disagreement and instead of breaking up, you’ve worked it out together, you might be ready to move forward with them, but there should be assurance regarding the steadfastness of the bond. You need to believe that there is constancy in the relationship despite the arguments. Be it exclusive or a relationship, you have realized that communication is key and talking it out is probably for the best.

5. You Have A Healthy Relationship

In a casual relationship, people may fall out of love easily over various factors. Toxicity may also creep through the crevices of the relationship, creating resentment over time. However, being exclusive in a relationship means that you treat each other well even after the initial pursuit. There are no mixed signals – you can talk about things like honestly, loyalty, and monogamy and be vulnerable with each other, and know the things you should avoid saying when they are upset. Can you relate to this? If you are nodding your head, you and your partner are definitely exclusive.

6. You Have Told Each Other The Three Magical Words

No, we are not talking about “WiFi is working!” If you have told your significant other ‘I love you’, and they reciprocated your feelings, you are in an exclusive relationship. If there is an answer to the question ‘when should you become exclusive in a relationship?’, it is this, right here after you have said those three words to each other. It shows devotion, faithfulness, and dedication towards the relationship as well as each other. In such relationships, fidelity is the key element to showing trust, reliability, and continuity of the relationship.

7. You Imagine A Future With Them

Becoming exclusive in a relationship takes some time, especially if you are still trying to figure out your feelings for them. Let us help you a little with it! Do you get butterflies when you imagine a future with them? Instead of freaking out, do you feel happy when you picture them with you in the long run? Does the thought of losing them make you upset? If so, talk to them about getting into an exclusive relationship.

8. There Is PDA Involved

Your partner’s social media feed has your photos, and your recent selfie has their comment. You do not shy away from small gestures of affection and intimacy in front of your acquaintances. You may also have a space for their things in your apartment, and they shower you with compliments at every chance. This is what mutually exclusive means in a relationship – when your feelings are not kept a secret from the people around you.

9. You Have Your Own Life

Many people may think exclusivity in a relationship means doing everything together. But it is wrong and can turn things monotonous and toxic very quickly. If you are dating someone and still have your own space to do what you like, and one taking part in individual activities does not make the other feel like they are being neglected, it is a sign of a healthy bond. Every relationship needs space, no matter how long you have been together. Hence, an exclusive relationship does not hamper your personal space but gives you the chance of having stability and dependability in bad situations. Such an exclusive allegiance can help you go through even the toughest of times.

10. You Are Ready For Emotional Intimacy

Feeling ready for emotional closeness is a clear sign that you are in an exclusive relationship. It goes beyond just hanging out – it is about being comfortable enough to share your deeper thoughts and feelings. It is about a trust that lets you open up emotionally that makes a relationship exclusive. So, if you find yourself willing to be more vulnerable and understanding with your partner, it is a strong signal that your relationship is on a deeper, more exclusive level.

11. Fear Of Losing

When you deeply care about someone and the thought of losing them feels unsettling, it is an indication that the relationship holds significant meaning to you. Exclusive relationships often come with a sense of attachment and commitment, creating a fear of losing the person you have chosen to be exclusive with.

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If you relate to these signs and want it to remain that way in your relationship, you must discuss it with your partner. Make sure you are on the same page so you can figure out where your relationship goes next.

Infographic: Types Of Romantic Relationships

All romantic relationships do not function in the same way. The individuality of the people involved in a relationship strongly determines what kind of relationship it is. Check out the infographic below to know more about the common types of romantic relationships.

types of romantic relationships (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Deciding to become exclusive is making forward progress in a relationship. The time frame to make this decision will vary from person to person. Only after you know a considerable deal about your partner and figure out your feelings, will you look for exclusivity in the relationship. Once you are certain about them, you need to be honest about your feelings toward them. Initiate the “exclusive relationship talk” if you are on the same page. You may also feel inclined to be exclusive but not in a serious relationship.
Being in an exclusive relationship is delightful, but if your partner does not want the same things, it will be best to end things before you get hurt. You have every right to choose what is best for you.

Being in an exclusive relationship is delightful, but if your partner does not want the same things, it will be best to end things before you get hurt. You have every right to choose what is best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should you date exclusively before a relationship?

There is no exact timeline and it varies from couple to couple. However, most couples date exclusively for two to three months before entering into a relationship.

How many dates before you become exclusive?

Ideally, ten to twelve dates is considered enough time to gauge your depth of feelings for a person before becoming exclusive.

How do you tell someone you are not exclusive?

You should start by apologizing and having an honest conversation with the person. Tell them the reasons why you do not want to be exclusive. Be honest and respectfully convey about the future of this relationship.

Key Takeaways

  • An exclusive relationship is when you and your partner see only each other and take a step further from dating.
  • Exclusive relationships can transition into committed ones. Both partners evaluate compatibility and scope for a long-term relationship at this phase.
  • Imagining a life with them, PDA, and meeting each other’s friends and family are some of the signs of an exclusive relationship.
Exclusive Relationship_illustration

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team

Here’s a short video to help you understand if your new love wants an exclusive relationship:

Ready to take your relationship to the next level? Learn when to make it exclusive in this helpful video below. Click to play!

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Dr Nancy B Irwin

Dr Nancy B IrwinPsyD

Originally from Atlanta, Dr. Nancy Irwin graduated from UWG in 1977 with a Bachelor of Music in Opera Performance. She moved to New York City in 1985 to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian. She worked all over the country and abroad and moved to Los Angeles in 1994 when she heard that Hollywood needed more blondes
Read full bio of Dr Nancy B Irwin