No one wants to have “the talk” about being monogamous, but there’s a point when it has to happen if the relationship is going to progress. How do you tell a guy you want to be exclusive? Here are a few tips to make you feel less vulnerable and more in control of the situation.
Assume you’re not exclusive until you have the conversation.
Talking about commitment is uncomfortable and most of us would prefer to avoid it altogether. But in this modern world of dating apps and instant gratification, it’s delusional to expect that anyone is going to be exclusive after one date. If you just assume that the other person wants to be in a committed relationship with you just because you want them to be, you’re setting yourself for a lot of pain in the future. Face it head-on from the beginning and you’ll avoid a lot more discomfort.
Do it in person.
It’s easy to avoid real talk when you’re texting or talking over the phone. It’s much harder when you’re in person and determined to follow through to the end. Being in person also allows you to read his body language, which sometimes says more than the words coming out of his mouth. It also allows you to bring it up at a time that feels right for both of you instead of just springing it on him when he may be busy elsewhere and completely unprepared for such an important discussion.
Lay the groundwork.
Before talking about exclusivity, make sure you know what you’re both looking for. Some people just aren’t looking for a committed relationship, and it’s good to know that before you bring up the possibility of exclusivity. Ideally, you’ll talk about what you’re looking for within the first few dates you have with a person. It will save you lots of time.
Be direct about it.
There’s no point bringing it up if you don’t actually say what you mean. You’ll just end up building your relationship on a huge misunderstanding, thinking you’re both on the same page only to discover how wrong you were when it’s too late. Tell him exactly what you want without downplaying it or trying to make it more palatable. Chances are, he’ll be thrilled.
Don’t let him dodge.
Exclusivity is a pretty scary concept for some people. He may not have been in a serious relationship for a while and gotten comfortable with complete freedom. But he owes you a straight answer. If he isn’t ready to commit, make sure he tells you that. Don’t let him evade the topic and string you along when you’ve made the courageous step to bring up the conversation in the first place.
Don’t make it a big deal.
Talking about exclusivity isn’t a marriage proposal, but if you’re really nervous about broaching the subject, it may come across as being just as serious. Tell him it’s something you’ve been thinking about and that you want to see how he feels about it. It should feel relaxed. If you approach it too formally, you may freak him out and end up pushing him away, even if he was interested in being exclusive before.
Avoid making it sound like a favor.
Before you have the exclusivity talk with him, make sure you fully understand the situation. Exclusivity is not confinement. It isn’t a sacrifice. It’s an opportunity that he’s lucky to have. If you bring up the conversation in an apologetic way as if you’re asking him to give up his freedom, he’s much less likely to treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Tell him that you’ve been feeling like he could be someone you’d want to be exclusive with. If he’s worthy of you, he’ll recognize that you’re actually giving him something rather than taking something away.
Read the signs.
Knowing what you want is a good start, but it’s also important to gauge how he’s feeling too. You don’t want to bring up the topic without having some sense of how he might respond. Make sure you’ve established a level of interest from him before bringing up the conversation. If he’s avoided staying the night or introducing you to his friends, it’s reasonable to assume that “the talk” is futile.
Accept that he may need time to respond.
Some people find the whole idea of a verbal agreement to exclusivity intimidating. Even though it’s a very simple decision that probably won’t change your relationship very much, some people–particularly those who avoid confrontation–may be freaked out by the idea at first. If he seems put off by the subject, don’t take it as rejection right away. Understand that he may not have been in this position before, and give him some time to adapt to the situation before expecting an answer.
Remember it isn’t a negotiation.
Relationships are all about compromise, but exclusivity is not. There is no “kind of monogamy” or “semi-commitment.” You’re either in or you’re out. If he tries to negotiate with you, shut him down and get him out of your life as quickly as humanly possible. Anyone who tries to manipulate you into some kind of open relationship right after you’ve stated your desire for an exclusive relationship is not looking for compromise. They’re looking to have it all, at your expense, and make you think it was your idea.
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