Exclusivity While Dating Is a Waste of Time

Ask Demetria: Save the “exclusive” title for committed relationships. Dating is a time to explore your options.

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Dear Demetria:

I’m not in a committed relationship, but I am dating someone (nothing physical). Another guy has asked me on a date, which I accepted. My friends are giving me grief, saying I should date one person at a time and give it a chance to grow. Am I wrong?” —Anonymous

Your friends are good people who are giving bad advice. 

Exclusivity is for committed relationships, and since you aren’t in one, you shouldn’t act like you are. If the guy you’re dating doesn’t want you to see other people, then he should offer you a commitment and a title. And so you know, if he hasn’t asked you to be in a relationship, he’s not exclusive to you—and he shouldn’t be. He’s single.

Here’s the thing: What if you date this guy for months, finally ask him, “Where is this going?” and he comes back with, “I like things the way they are” or “I just want to be friends.” Then you’ve invested months getting to know someone who’s never going to be your boyfriend, and you’re left disappointed with no options on your plate. You’re stuck either sticking with a guy who doesn’t want to commit, and maybe trying to convince him to change his mind (pointless), or starting over from scratch after months invested and no commitment to show for it. That’s a waste of your pretty.

Exclusivity is also a resource. One of the many reasons that men commit, other than “just” liking you, is that they see you have a lot to offer. A man knows that if he sees it, other men will notice that, too, and he doesn’t want you entertaining other men.

A commitment is an attempt to keep you all to himself. When you give exclusivity away, you’re giving away one good reason for him to commit. He’s got one of the big bonuses of a relationship (and likely others, too) without actually being in one anyway. What’s the incentive here?

I challenge you to rethink what dating is—not a relationship status but an activity. Your goal while doing this activity is to have fun and evaluate the person you’re dating to see if you actually like him. That’s it. After you’ve spent a few months—you need to see his ups and, more important, his downs—then you discuss a relationship.

When you meet a man, even if you like him, don’t shut yourself off from other men. Keep going out, keep flirting, keep meeting people, and keep going on dates with anyone you find interesting and/or attractive. He is.

The “rules” for dating multiple people are simple:

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