I want to be exclusive

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I feel like the situation I am about to describe is what a lot of people in their mid-20s face. I have been seeing someone for three months, and at the beginning, we both said we did not know what we were looking for. Now we see each other almost every day, even if it's just for a few minutes. At least on my end, I am nervous to discuss what we should call our relationship.

I feel like dating without the label is a common thing that happens these days, and I believe that is sort of what we are doing right now. I would be fine to stay the way we are, but I would also like the security of saying that we are exclusive or are a couple. We are both in graduate school so there is a level of uncertainty about where we will take our careers. So I understand why it could be hard to make a decision in a relationship. Do you have any advice for folks like myself who find themselves in this situation? Or how to approach that conversation?

– Uncertain


In my humble opinion, a conversation about exclusivity should be easier to have than one that attempts to define a relationship.

You can be exclusive and casual. Two people can date only each other and see where things go, but agree that no big decisions about the future can be made right this second.

Start with exclusivity because there's no reason to talk about anything else right now. Say something like, "When we started this, we didn't know what we wanted, and we still don't. But after three months I can say that I'd like to enjoy this – for the moment – without being with other people. Is that something you can offer right now?" You can make it clear that it seems like it's just the two of you, but you'd rather not make assumptions. Tell him if exclusivity works for now, you can always have another conversation if anything changes.

I know it's scary, but this isn't about a label. It's a conversation about boundaries, one that sets the tone for how you'd like to talk about these kinds of issues in the future.

Remember, if he doesn’t want any kind of exclusivity – or is incapable of discussing it – it's better to know now.

– Meredith

Readers? How would you start the conversation? If you're exclusive, are you a couple?