How to Move From Just Dating to Exclusive

Published March 5, 2018
Romantic couple

Are you dating someone special and think you're ready to take your relationship to the next level? If you're looking for advice on moving from just dating to exclusive, you've come to the right place. These tips will help you shift your relationship status.

How to Know If You're Ready

You've fallen for someone. Now you're anxious to make your relationship exclusive. It's great that you're feeling positive about your connection, but have you taken the time to gauge whether you're really ready to take the next step? Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Do I know what I want in life, personally and professionally?
  • Am I emotionally stable and available?
  • Do I have good communication skills? If not, am I willing to build them?
  • Am I ready to make my relationship a priority?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you may need to take a step back and figure out what you need to do in order to feel ready. However, if you answered yes to all of these questions, you pass the readiness test!

Communicate Your Intentions

One person's reasons for dating can vary vastly from the next. Some are in it to find a long-term relationship, while others are in it for fun. When you know you're interested in someone, communicate your desires and expectations as soon as possible. Specifically, tell the person you care for that:

  1. You are looking for someone who wants a long-term relationship, perhaps marriage. Putting off this conversation can lead to heartache in the long run. Ask the other person if he or she is looking for a serious relationship so that you know whether there's potential from the get-go. If your intentions don't match up, this may not be the right person for you. If they do, move on to number two.
  2. You think there is potential for something to develop between the two of you. This is important because some individuals may have the desire to be in a long-term relationship, but stay with someone they don't feel connected to until the right one comes along.

Speaking your mind in this way will give your love interest the opportunity to see where you stand and to reflect on his or her own expectations and feelings about the relationship so far.

Let the Relationship Progress Naturally

Sometimes the desire to be in a relationship can cloud the fact that you barely know someone and should probably give it time before you rush into a commitment. Every connection is different, but if you've known this person for less than two or three weeks, there's a good chance you need to slow down.

Recognize the difference between seeing the potential for a relationship with someone and actually developing feelings for that person. This will become apparent as you continue to see one another:

  • You start to look forward to talking and spending time together.
  • You feel excited or turned on when he or she is around.
  • You think of him or her throughout the day.
  • You become emotionally invested in his or her happiness and success.

Determine If He or She Is a Good Fit

You feel great when you are around your special someone and you always have fun together. That doesn't necessarily mean you will fare well together in a relationship. That's why it's important to assess if he or she is a good fit. Fortunately, there are some common signs to look out for that indicate a positive match. A great relationship match will:

  • Make time for you
  • Respect your opinion and lifestyle
  • Communicate thoughts and feelings openly with you
  • Care about you, your life, your thoughts, and your feelings
  • Share similar values
  • Consistently make you feel good when you are together

On the other hand, if he or she displays consistently negative behavior, there's a good chance that a relationship will not work out. Common red flags include:

  • Making fun of you or putting you down
  • Failing to set aside time or canceling plans at the last minute
  • Being closed-minded, judgmental, or keeping you at a distance physically or emotionally
  • Being irresponsible when it comes to obligations like work or finances

People who display negative behaviors at the beginning of a relationship are unlikely to change. If this is the case, it's best to cut it off now instead of moving forward. If the positives reign, however, it's time to take the next step.

Express Your Feelings

Does your special someone know exactly how you feel? Perhaps you've been dropping hints, trying to communicate that you're very interested in this person, but you haven't said it outright. While some people are adept at reading between the lines when it comes to romance, others aren't so gifted. Be very transparent. Genuinely share your thoughts and feelings with the person you are dating. Share:

  • couple talking
    Traits that you value in him or her
  • How he or she makes you feel
  • The quirks that make you smile

Be physically affectionate as well. Placing a hand on the forearm or leaning in close are great ways to show that you're interested and comfortable. Just know that some people are more receptive to certain types of touch than others. A quick "Is this okay?" is a great way to check in with the other person. If the response is positive, you'll know that your feelings are reciprocated.

Find Out How Your Special Someone Feels

Before you go completely down the rabbit hole of investing in someone, you must know if he or she is also falling for you too. Pay attention to how this person behaves when you are together. It's a good sign if he or she:

  • Smiles and/or laughs frequently
  • Displays affection through body language and physical gestures, such as getting close and touching you
  • Reaches out to spend more time with you
  • Actually tells you that he or she likes or loves you

If you're not good at reading the signs or you haven't spotted any, ask questions to help draw the person out. It can be as simple as "Are you having a good time?" The response will give you a good idea of whether the person enjoys spending time with you or not.

If it's been some time since you started dating and you still can't tell, have an honest conversation. Get straight to the point and ask "Are you into me?" The worst he or she can say is no. In that case, you move on. If the answer is yes, savor it and seek ways to help your love interest come out of his or her shell when spending time with you.

Connect On a Deeper Level

You may already know that you're falling for one another, but it takes time and effort to develop closeness. Thankfully, there are ways to deepen the connection between you and your romantic interest a bit more quickly.

  • Share information about yourself you don't normally share with friends, such as personal struggles, fears, dreams. It gives the other person an opportunity to empathize and show support. Try not to get too heavy too soon. This can put people off early on in a relationship.
  • Ask what's important in his or her life. Give the other person the opportunity to go deep as well. You may be surprised when he or she reveals a level of personality that you never experienced before.
  • Try a new activity together that pushes your boundaries or puts you in your happy place. For example, take a dance class, try karaoke, or picnic under the stars. This will create new and unique memories that you can keep with you forever and strengthen the bond between the two of you.

Spend More Time Together

Show your special someone that you care by asking him or her to spend time together more frequently. It shows that you see the relationship as a high priority and that you value nurturing the connection between you two.

  • romantic picnic
    Set aside at least one night a week to see one another. Reserve it as an unbreakable commitment on your calendar, so that when work or other issues arise, you aren't tempted to skip it.
  • Spend a weekend in to get to know one another better or book a weekend getaway. There's nothing like spending two or three days and nights away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It will allow you to connect on a deeper level and give you the opportunity to see one another in a new setting.

It's actually been proven that quality time is one the top indicators of long-term relationship success. Put in the effort now so that you can reap the rewards later.

Introduce Your Loved Ones

Inviting your romantic interest to meet your friends and family is a great way to show that he or she is important to you. It sends a clear message that you want this person to be a part of your life. Start with a no pressure situation, such as a barbecue or a night out for cocktails. If they make an effort to get to know your loved ones and show interest in their lives, that's a good sign that they plan to stick around.

Introducing your love interest to friends and family will also give those closest to you a chance to see how this person treats you. If they are good people, but react negatively, there may be something off about your relationship. Whether or not they express this openly, check in with them later. Ask for their honest opinions. Most people are blind to the bad behaviors of people they are interested in. Friends and family have no qualms about breaking the illusion. However, if they see that you're happy and that your date is a good person, they will be happy for you too.

Ask for Exclusivity

If everything has gone well so far, and the time feels right, it's time to pop the question. Be sure to ease into it so that your love interest isn't taken off guard.

  1. Ask if you can have a conversation about the relationship.
  2. Set aside a time to talk.
  3. When you meet, share what you have enjoyed about your time together thus far.
  4. Explain that you are willing and ready to commit to being exclusive and ask if he or she feels ready too.
  5. Wait for his or her response.

Once you've said everything you'd like to say, leave space for your special someone to reflect and respond. There's no rush. If you truly care for one another, the conversation will be fruitful. Assume, going in, that he or she is just as interested as you are. However, also be prepared in case the conversation doesn't go the way you hoped.

If Things Don't Work Out

There are going to be times when your attempt to make a relationship exclusive doesn't pan out. This could go a couple of ways.

Not Interested

The person you're interested in may not looking for a relationship or just doesn't want one with you. Don't take it personally. People vary drastically on what they want in a relationship. Although it may hurt at first, recognize that you can't be a match for everyone. In this case, it's best to cut your losses. If you are truly looking for lasting romance, the sooner you can move on, the better.

Not Ready

Alternatively, your special someone may need some time to think about your proposal. In that case, give it to them. Becoming exclusive is a big commitment. It's better for both of you to wait until you are certain it is the right move. However, it's okay to be practical. Before you close the conversation, set a date, perhaps one to three months in the future, in which you can revisit the topic. That way, you aren't waiting forever for your loved one to change his or her mind.

If you have another chat and the answer hasn't changed, you have to decide for yourself whether or not this person is worth waiting for. In the meantime, start seeing other people. You may actually find someone you like who wants to commit to you and only you.

Take Your Time

In dating, becoming exclusive is a big deal. It shows that you really care about the person you are with and are willing to devote your time and energy to creating a lasting relationship. Take your time to move through each stage so that you build a deep connection before you suggest a commitment. In the end, you must be on the same page about what you want in life and in romance. Take your time. You will eventually find that special person who wants to make that commitment to you.

How to Move From Just Dating to Exclusive