What Does It Mean When You’re Exclusively Dating But Not In A Relationship?

You meet someone great and you get on like a house on fire. The chemistry is there, the sexual tension is off the charts, and you’re super into them. The best part is, they seem to feel the same. You know because you’re dating each other exclusively now, you’re just not in an official relationship yet. But wait, what does this mean? Are you on the right path toward coupled-up bliss or are you wasting your time? Read on to find out what’s going on.

Does being exclusive always lead to being an official couple?

Unfortunately not. While mutually deciding to only see one another is a great first step towards an official relationship, it doesn’t mean your connection will automatically end up there. There are many different things that come into play when it comes to becoming a couple. Exclusivity may give you a chance to get to know each other more and drown out the noise of playing the field, it doesn’t guarantee a happily ever after.

Exclusively dating vs. in a relationship — what’s the difference?

When you’re dating someone exclusively, you’re vowing not to see anyone else. You want to focus all of your time and energy on one particular person. Generally speaking, two people decide to become exclusive when they realize they have a very real connection. By swearing off other romantic prospects, they can focus on getting to know one another in earnest.

That being said, just because you’re only dating one person doesn’t mean you’re in an official relationship. It simply means that you’re not still entertaining other potential dates at the same time. When you’re in a relationship, you’re committed to being together, potentially long-term. There’s a deeper bond and sense of longevity that simple exclusivity doesn’t have.

Why would someone agree to be exclusive if they didn’t want to be with you?

  1. They don’t want you to date anyone else. They’re not sure they want you to be their girlfriend, but they don’t want to miss out in case they decide they do. So, they propose dating exclusively because they don’t want you in another relationship. This is selfish behavior that puts you in a holding pattern.
  2. They have a short attention span. They’re not necessarily interested in making you their girlfriend. However, they also don’t have the time or energy to date multiple people so they have to focus on you. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it could be a red flag. If they lose interest in things quickly or can’t focus, what will they be like in a relationship?
  3. They have no other romantic prospects at the moment. Are you their first choice or simply their only option? It’s possible they’re not willingly being exclusive with you, there’s just no one else on the scene. It sucks to think that might be the case, especially since you’re so amazing. However, be aware of the warning signs.
  4. They think it’s a way to get you into bed. Some manipulative people believe that asking you to be exclusive without committing to a relationship is the way to bed women in the dating world. It could be that they’re pretending to want to advance your connection. In reality, they just want to get laid.
  5. They do like you, they’re just not sure how much. Maybe they do have a deep romantic interest in you. They’re just not sure yet if you’re 100% compatible. In this circumstance, they’re happy to only date you. However, they stop short of asking you to be their girlfriend. That doesn’t mean it will never happen, but you’re not there yet.

What to do if the person you’re dating doesn’t want a relationship

  1. Be honest about what you’re looking for. There’s no use pretending you’re cool with a situationship when you’re really not. It’s nice that they only want to date you, but you’re dating for love, right? If that’s the case, be honest about that. Tell them that while you’re not in a hurry, you need to know where things are going. You don’t want to waste your time or theirs if there’s no chance of a relationship.
  2. Find out where their head is at. You know what you want, but what about them? Even if your visions of the future don’t align, you at least need to hear them out. Let them share how they’re feeling and how they see things going. Resist the urge to interrupt or speak over them. Instead, truly listen and think about what they’re telling you. It will give you a greater understanding of who they are and what they’re about.
  3. Decide whether or not you can meet them where they’re at. Maybe they say they’d like a relationship, just not yet. Can you wait around for that undefined date to come? Do you feel comfortable enough going with the flow and seeing what happens? If the answer is no, you have only one choice. That is to walk away. You’ll do yourself a disservice by sticking around in a situation that doesn’t make you happy. There’s someone out there who can and will give you what you need. If this person isn’t it, be strong enough to say goodbye.
Bolde has been a source of dating and relationship advice for single women around the world since 2014. We combine scientific data, experiential wisdom, and personal anecdotes to provide help and encouragement to those frustrated by the journey to find love. Follow us on Instagram @bolde_media or on Facebook @BoldeMedia