When and How to Talk About Exclusivity In a Relationship

Exclusivity can be an anxiety-inducing conversation to have in a new relationship.

Heck, all of those “real” conversations you might have in a relationship (or anywhere else in life) are difficult.

Having difficult conversations is hard because there is risk involved. You might get rejected. It might not go well. You might not be able to put the words that you need into sentences.

Welcome to the real world, where there are real actions, real consequences, real losses, and real failures. Oh, but of course, real joy.

Everything you’ve ever wanted out of a relationship might just be on the other side of a difficult conversation.

You might think you’re doing it wrong.

I get it. I’ve been there and have found ways to do it right.

That’s why in this article, we’re going to learn about the importance of communication when it comes to exclusivity in a relationship, how to initiate a conversation, what to do when a conversation goes wrong, and how to handle all possible outcomes.

Why Is Exclusivity Important to Talk About?

This might seem obvious, but let’s talk about it really quickly because people have a lot of misconceptions about exclusivity, communication, and relationships.

First and foremost, not everyone needs to be in exclusive relationships.

However, everyone needs to at least talk about exclusivity in their relationships.

You need to figure out whether or not you are with someone who is compatible with you, and then you have to set boundaries and intentions for that relationship.

You need to communicate. You need to communicate with your desired partner, and you need to communicate with any person that you might be involved with who isn’t your desired partner.

After you’ve been seeing someone for a few months, it might be time to start communicating boundaries, intentions, and other aspects of your life that you might want to share with someone.

The longer you know them, the more likely it’s appropriate to start taking things seriously.

As men, communication is not always the easiest thing for many of us. However, this isn’t an excuse to avoid the subject altogether.

Eventually, you have to confront this fear and talk about it with your potential partner.

You have to practice having difficult conversations with people you are involved with.

This is an essential step in not only building relationships but also in avoiding wasting your time on people who are not right for you.

When Is a Good Time to Talk About Exclusivity?

Everyone is different, but generally, from our relationship coaching program, we’ve learned that it’s best to wait at least a couple of months before talking about exclusivity.

Those first couple months of dating are really a feeling-out period and really not a good time for making any long-term decisions.

People who enforce monogamy on potential partners very early on in the relationship are typically not the kinds of people who you want to be in monogamous relationships with.

In, enforcing monogamy on someone early on in a relationship can be a predecessor to narcissistic abuse.

Love-bombing is real, and it’s dangerous. It can happen to any of us, and it can be done by any of us. Keep your eyes peeled.

Your relationship should be nurturing. It should not feel like a prison. You shouldn’t feel like you’re being trapped, no matter what cliches about dating you might hear about from older folks who are trapped in unhappy relationships.

On the flip side, if you are dating someone for months and months on end, and neither of you ever want to talk about the “exclusivity thing”, that’s either a sign of emotional immaturity or just a sign that the relationship isn’t going anywhere.

If you can’t talk about the future with someone, that might just be a sign that a future with them doesn’t exist.

How Being Assertive Helps You Talk About Exclusivity?

The thing is, different communication styles can make the process of communicating your emotions very difficult.

In order to communicate through conversation that might seem unpredictable or might make you anxious, you first need to develop the ability to be assertive.

This is probably the most effective form of communication, but unfortunately, it’s also the most difficult to master. Very few people are natural “assertive communicators”.

Most of us have to work at this.

Assertive communicators stand up for their rights, use “I” statements, and validate their own feelings. They maintain eye contact, and they do not fold when something happens that is not ideal for them or not according to their plan.

Assertive communication is the art of bending without breaking when it comes to sharing your feelings.

When you talk to a potential partner about exclusivity, you must use an assertive communication style.

This can be all the difference in what outcome you will get and also how you will feel about your communication. Assertive communication is an essential skill in building effective relationships.

How to Talk About Exclusivity With Your Partner?

Some people call it “the talk”.

Some people say it’s time to “DTR” (define the relationship).

Some people just sigh and say “Welp, I guess this is real now.”

Whatever you call it, having these talks about exclusivity, the future, or any other important aspect of your relationship starts long before you actually sit down to talk about things.

When you think about it, just about all relationships begin and end with difficult conversations, so it makes sense that these difficult conversations are some of the most important parts of relationships.

The way you begin a conversation about exclusivity is important, but when you want to talk about important aspects of your relationship, it’s really important to go in with a plan in mind.

You have to wait for good timing, be direct, carefully plan out what you’re going to say, and finally, you need to execute your plan to talk about exclusivity with whoever it is you’re interested in. You can’t let anxiety stop you from having this talk.

That’s why proper preparation is important. The first thing you need to do when talking about exclusivity is to plan.

If you don’t have any idea what you’re going to say, it’s going to be really difficult to have an effective conversation about something that’s important to you.

1. Weigh the Pros and Cons of Your Relationship

You’ve been dating someone, and at first glance, she’s perfect.

She’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s funny, and she’s ambitious. She’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a partner…

But she gets really mad at you when she’s drunk. You don’t like the way she chews. She doesn’t have a job at the moment.

But this. But that.

It doesn’t matter that much what bugs you. What matters is your answer to this question:

“Can you deal with it?”

No one is perfect. No relationship is ideal. That’s life.

You have to decide if you can handle the imperfections of some potential romantic partner before you go any further in burdening either you or them with a stressful conversation about exclusivity.

2. Grab the Talk By the Horns

You can’t always predict what someone else is going to say, but you can plan what you are going to say, and you can be an assertive communicator and dictate the flow of a conversation.

You can’t decide what’s going to happen, but you can decide how the early steps of the conversation are going to go.

This will ease a great deal of the anxiety that you feel surrounding a difficult conversation because it will create a sensation that you have control over what you are trying to establish.

Even better, you can ease your anxiety by figuring out exactly what it is that you want out of a relationship and being honest with yourself.

You can figure out how to talk about exclusivity in a relationship before you even start dating someone.

That’s the power of proper preparation and assertive communication.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Have Difficult Conversations

One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever gotten regarding difficult conversations was very simple:

“It’s a difficult conversation, it’s supposed to be difficult”.

People are always looking for the easy way out of difficult things. We want diet pills, we want get-rich-quick schemes, and we want the hot girlfriend, but we don’t want to run, we don’t want to work, and we don’t want to have uncomfortable conversations.

We want what we want when we want it.

If you want to actually get better at doing scary stuff, learn to accept and even thrive in the discomfort of something scary and difficult.

Have difficult conversations. Learn to talk about things that make you uncomfortable or things that you were told you weren’t “supposed to talk about”.

Just like with anything you do, talking about exclusivity in a relationship will become easier and less daunting the more you do it.

That doesn’t mean it’s ever going to be easy, but it does mean that it gets better.

4. Be Self-Aware and Empathetic

The most important part about tackling these difficult conversations that you might face in a relationship is that you have to learn to see yourself from someone else’s perspective.

You can do everything right, but if you lack empathy you will always feel like you’re confused and constantly making mistakes.

Naivety is your greatest enemy. Self-awareness is your greatest weapon.

You can prepare yourself for the conversation, you can speak clearly and say exactly what it is you want, and you can even listen to what someone is saying back to you.

But if you don’t have empathy when you are engaging in an uncomfortable conversation, you’re going to feel as if something’s gone wrong because your ego will be influencing your understanding.

This isn’t about making sure no one’s feelings get hurt – unfortunately, that’s just part of life. This is about making you’re that at the very least, you’re thinking about someone’s feelings other than your own.

This is about easing the burn. This is about rejecting people without hurting them. This is about not rubbing salt in other people’s wounds.

For many people, this is a real challenge.


So, what stops people from talking about exclusivity in their relationships? What makes life hard for people in general?

It really boils down to fear, confrontation, and getting out of your head and into the real world.

In your head, there are no real consequences for your actions. There are anxieties, there are thoughts triggering thoughts, but there are no real consequences for the things that you might do.

However, relationships are real, and real relationships require real conversations. You can’t have a real relationship if aren’t ready for reality. You have to get out of your head, get into your life, and learn to overcome the fear of the unknown.

I want to help you do it.

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