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Exclusive Dating to Relationship: A Guide to Successfully Get There

by Eharmony Editorial Team - April 1, 2021

Ah, middle school. It was a simpler time, especially when it came to dating. Back then, if two people liked each other and decided to go out, they were dating and that was that. Now, though, there’s casual dating, exclusive dating but not an exclusive relationship, actually being in a relationship, a committed relationship… it’s enough to make your head spin and want to swear off the whole dating thing entirely.

Dating can be especially confusing when you guys have been on several dates, met each other’s’ friends, but you’re still not sure where you stand because you actually haven’t had a conversation about commitment. While that should definitely be in your future, we break down the various stages of dating and offer you tips for each one.

Dating exclusively: What does it mean, exactly?

Exclusive dating is the step before a serious relationship. You’re spending plenty of time with your partner, getting to know them better and seeing if you’re ready for a relationship. Think of it like a trial period before you’re hired on full-time at that awesome company. It’s a big step and an important stepping-stone to being in a proper long-term relationship.

5 typical signs you’re dating exclusively

  • You act like you already are: Your partner is a pretty big part of your life, and you often double-check plans with each other. You don’t see other people and you’re not really interested in doing so, either.
  • Your relationship is healthy: You communicate, you both treat each other well, have good boundaries, and are generally happy in your relationship.
  • You hate the idea of losing them: The thought of your life without this person makes you upset and sad, and you’re eager to avoid the possibility.
  • Your friends have met and like each other: Like the Spice Girls said, ‘if you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends…’ Making the effort to fit into each other’s lives is a pretty big sign of exclusive dating.
  • You talk about the future: While you haven’t had the ‘are we a couple’ talk yet, future plans – like going to a concert or taking a trip together – are a natural part of your conversation.

Being in a relationship: What does it mean, exactly?

While exclusive dating is still a big step, becoming a couple is an even bigger one; they explicitly have the future in mind. When you decide to move from exclusive dating to an exclusive relationship, it’s in large part because you can imagine a future – weddings, children, rocking chairs on the front porch, the whole nine yards – with the person you’re dating.

5 signs you’re in a relationship

  • You’re automatically assumed to be the plus-one. Whenever your partner gets invited to something, if there’s room for one more, it’s taken for granted it’ll be you.
  • You regularly chat with your partner’s family: This depends on individual circumstances, of course, but it’s not unusual for your partner’s mom or sibling to call for a chat, or for you to know when his father’s birthday is.
  • You make concrete plans for the future: While nothing’s set in stone yet, talks about eventually moving in together or spending holidays with the family are nothing out of the ordinary.
  • It’s social media official with your friends, too: When your friends and your partner are social media friends with each other, and talk about things other than you? You are definitely together.
  • You immediately want to share news with each other: Whether good or bad, the first person you want to tell someone is your SO.

How to move from exclusive dating to a relationship

Dating – and especially the move to a committed relationship – can sometimes feel like navigating a shark-infested waters. Even broaching the subject can feel scary – who likes rejection, after all? Especially from people you care about. But take heart; with patience and communication, you’ll be well on your way to an exclusive relationship.

Checklist for a successful transition

  1. Communication and transparency are everything. You and your partner need to be on the same page about what your relationship is and where it’s going.
  2. If your relationship has been online so far, consider a trip to meet each other face-to-face.
  3. If your relationship is offline, perhaps it’s time to introduce each other to your family and friends, if you haven’t already.
  4. Step up your efforts: Make sure your partner knows how much you care about them, and how important they are to you.
  5. This might be obvious, but – unless you and your partner have agreed to an open relationship – it’s time to delete those dating profiles and take dating apps off your phone.

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Transit from exclusive dating to exclusive relationship with communication

As is obvious in this article, dating is a lot more complicated than it was in middle school – who knew the search to meet the one would involve so many questions? In all seriousness, though, the best way to figure out whether you’re just dating exclusively or in an actual exclusive relationship is to simply have a conversation with your significant other. If you’re both on the same page, great! If you’re not… eharmony is a great place to find someone to have a long-lasting relationship with.

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