How soon is too soon to become exclusive?

When you first start dating someone new, your mindset is generally on having fun and getting to know the person. You’ve probably been out in the scene for some time and you also have a number of other singles that you’re currently seeing or about to meet up with. This is normal and healthy. It’s not about being exclusive or serious. It’s about having a good time. But when you do finally meet someone that captures your attention – how soon is too soon to become exclusive?

The short answer to this, is that the time for exclusivity in a relationship is going to be different for everybody. It can depend on all sorts of different variables. Factors that might come into play could include how recently you’ve come out of your last relationship, how long you’ve known your new date, how many commitments you’ve already got in your life (e.g. work, travel, friends etc), whether you’re divorced with kids, and your age and stage of life. There is no set formula or time period for being ready to become exclusive. However, the key to getting more clarity on this question is to know exactly where you stand on being in a committed relationship. For instance, if you’re a person who’s newly single, with a job that takes you away several days a week, you like the party lifestyle, you’ve only just got into the online dating scene, and you’re looking for new experiences – then the answer is slow down! You don’t want to be getting into an exclusive relationship because the life you lead is all about fun right now. On the other hand, if you’re someone who’s been online dating for a year, you’ve met lots of potential love interests, you know exactly what you want, you have a settled set of friends and stable work life, and you’ve long since moved on from your ex – then you’re ready to be in a serious relationship and become exclusive! You don’t need to wait. Your life is geared up to be in a long-term commitment. What this means then, is that exclusivity depends on your current lifestyle needs. Ask yourself “Does the life I lead now really allow me to be in an exclusive relationship?” If the answer is no, then hold off. But if you are ready, then this is something you can address with a new partner relatively early in a relationship.

John Aiken, RSVP dating and relationship psychologist, as seen on the hit show Married At First Sight, and on Ch 9’s Today show, Today Extra and A Current Affair. He is a best-selling author, regularly appears on radio and in magazines, runs a private practice in Sydney, and is a sought after speaker. (

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