Ask these questions before going exclusive
Monogamy isn’t for everyone, but for those who want or need it, going exclusive with a dating partner is a big step.
This relationship milestone often comes with labels and conversations that begin with “What are we?” It makes some people nervous and it can feel like a complex topic to bring up.
When it comes to going exclusive, when do you bring it up? What are you saying? A plan can be helpful. But before you prepare to talk about it with your significant other, ask yourself the following questions:
Questions to ask before going exclusive
Why do I want to commit to this person? Our reason for wanting to be exclusive is important. If the reason is our fear of being alone or our insecurity that the person will want to be with someone else if we don’t lock them up, exclusivity is not the “solution”. A decision to be exclusive should be driven by our genuine desire to get to know that person in a specific – exclusive – context.
Are you looking for sex or intimacy? There is a difference.
Am I treated as I deserve? Sometimes we push for exclusivity in hopes that it will improve the relationship or make the person focus more on it. And while that might work, I wouldn’t count on it. Instead, let’s have an open conversation with ourselves. Do you feel respected from today’s perspective? Are your (reasonable) needs being met in this relationship? Is there a part of you that feels like you’re settling down? If you envision a significant relationship in your life, which traits match and which don’t?
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Do I feel secure enough to be myself? Being in a relationship where we don’t feel safe or comfortable enough to show ourselves fully (authentically) is a relationship that feels draining and disappointing in the long run. It is important to find someone with whom we can express our needs, desires and preferences.
Do I like the way we resolve conflicts? Do you already have a different opinion? how did you solve it Disagreements in a relationship are inevitable, but it’s often rare to find someone willing to navigate them healthily and productively. When conflicts are managed well, they can be a foundation for deeper insights and a stronger relationship.
Is this a person your future self would date? Someone might be a good fit for us right now, but isn’t right for the person we want to become. Are you ready to support your goals and dreams? Will they be there to help you get through life? Do they want to go in the same direction as you?
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How you’re leading the conversation about making things official in your relationship
Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to start chatting with the person you’re dating. Here are some questions you can ask them:
- How do you define exclusivity? Make sure your definitions match and there is a mutual understanding of this commitment. Be clear about what you want and expect. Please pay attention to what they need and want.
- What is your definition of infidelity? Having your partner explain what they would or wouldn’t be comfortable with is a great way to respect the relationship and notice any discrepancies in your perception of infidelity. It’s better to have these conversations before someone gets hurt.
- What is your goal for this relationship? Children? Grow old together? And what is your goal for this month or this year? Consider whether their relationship goals align with your own.
- What is your biggest concern about me? Share your concerns with each other and decide how to address them.
- How much time and energy can you devote to the relationship? It’s good to check back and see how much time they have for you and the relationship and assess together if that’s enough for the goals you’ve set.
- How and why did your previous relationships end? Understanding the history of previous relationships can help both people understand where things generally go wrong and how to watch out for potential pitfalls.
- What are your expectations when it comes to intimacy? If the only person you’re having sex with is your partner, it can be helpful to discuss expectations about frequency and preferences. What kind of sex life is ideal for each person? What other types of intimacy are they also interested in (emotional, spiritual, etc.)?
Being curious and having honest conversations is the best way to build a successful relationship.
Sara Kuburic is a therapist specializing in identity, relationships and moral trauma. Every week she shares her advice with our readers. Find her on Instagram @millennial.therapist. She can be reached at SKuburic@gannett.com.
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