How Long Should You Wait Until You Know You’re Exclusive With a Man?

This is a question I received on my latest survey about a dozen times, which lets me know that it’s important to you. And if it’s important to you, it’s important to me.

You’ve said it to me loud and clear; you’ve been hurt before, you don’t want it to happen again, and you definitely don’t want to waste your time.

It’s important to remember, however, that nobody escapes matters of the heart completely unscathed. In 99% of relationships, either he’s breaking up with you or you’re breaking up with him. Somebody always gets hurt.

Which means that there’s a bit of risk involved in any relationship, and there’s not a single thing that your trusty dating coach can do to entirely eliminate that risk.

What I’d like to do is help you mitigate that risk a bit so that you don’t end up wasting too much time on the “wrong” men.

Which brings us to a notion that I articulated in “Why He Disappeared,” which has a funny way of always resurfacing on this blog: “Men look for sex and find love.”

This doesn’t mean he’s a player or a liar or a loser. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to be a good husband and father one day. All it means is that when he shows up on the first date with you and sees how attracted you are, he’s not thinking about the long-term future, he’s thinking about the short-term future:

“How am I going to charm her? How am I going to make her like me? How am I going to give her an extra drink so I can get her back to my place?”

Once again, I’m not proud of this fact, but it’s true. Men become focused on the here and now, trying to make the most of the present moment.

Women, for the most part, are rarely focused on the date itself. Half the time you’re on the first date with him, you’re trying to see through him and predict the future:

“What’s wrong with this guy? Where is this headed? Is he financially stable? Does he believe in marriage? Is he a player? Does he respect women? Does he want children? He better not hurt me. I don’t want to waste my time.”

Whew.

This disconnect explains almost all of the friction in dating and once you understand it, you can make a permanent adjustment.

All he knows on the first date is that he’s attracted to you.

The way he figures out if he really wants to be in a relationship with you is based on the quality time you spend talking over that first month or two. This is completely separate from his desire to sleep with you.

In this time, when you feel like you’re in limbo, he’s giving you a lot of information about his intentions, based on the effort he makes for you. If he enjoys seeing you platonically and wants to talk to you on the phone, and not every date is planned around him trying to get you in bed, you might just have a man who actually LIKES you.

The way he figures out if he really wants to be in a relationship with you is based on the quality time you spend talking over that first month or two. This is completely separate from his desire to sleep with you.

If you want to be exclusive with a guy, you have to give him time to want to be exclusive with you. That can reveal itself over days, weeks, or a couple of months. But not much longer than that.

The guy who’s been casually seeing you for over two months, where he occasionally texts you, occasionally sees you is simply not putting in the requisite effort to win you over. In the long run, he’s a waste of time because he’s already showing you the kind of relationship he wants: low-stakes, low rewards, no commitment.

I personally became exclusive with my wife after a month. Guys who don’t escalate their efforts after about two months are probably a waste of your time.

This is not a hard and fast rule, of course, but merely a guideline. But don’t lose sight of the bigger picture about mistaking excitement for a future.

If you go on a first date, have electric chemistry and end up in bed, it’s impossible to know if he actually likes you, much less loves you, much less is looking to be married, much less is ready to be married, much less is compatible with you for the next 40 years.

All you know after the first email, first date, or first, is that things are promising. Don’t get ahead of yourself and make things mean more.

And don’t waste your time with a guy who’s not your boyfriend after two months or so.

Wamest wishes,

Evan

P.S. Even though this video is free…don’t discount the value of it. I have talked to thousands of men and women to draw these conclusions. I hope you can break your “bad man” cycle right away!

If you’ve struggled to understand and connect with the “right” men, do yourself a favor, if you haven’t already, and put in your email address. That will put you on my priority mailing list so that you’ll get first notification when my new offering comes out in a few weeks.

*UPDATE: FOCUS Coaching is now available! Click here to learn more about this coaching program for smart, strong, successful women.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Kellie

    Hey Evan – So, so excited that you have started to give us video posts since your survey.  It is fantastic to hear you and see you when you talk to us – helps us “get it” just that little bit more!!  Such obvious advice but delivered in a way that gets through!!  Thank you, thank you – you are definitely the best out there, on so many levels, bar none.

  2. 2
    Margo

    Another homerun. “If he hasn’t asked you to be his girlfriend by 2 months, get out.”YES, YES and YES!

    Any other scenario ladies, and the guy is just hanging around using you. This is what happened to me with my recent loser.

  3. 3
    Lily2

    Thanks Evan! i didnt like the video post idea when i filled your survey, but in real life…i do! You get right to the point (as usual) and explain things so well, it’s terrific! Keep up the good work, you really are the best :)

  4. 4
    Demi

    I’m loving the video posts too! Great addition.
    One thing I would add too, is that as women it’s important that we also give ourselves the necessary time to get to know a guy outside of sex and expectations. Its so tempting to rush things when you meet someone who seems special!
    If I only had read Evan’s advice years ago- it would have changed my dating life.

  5. 5
    Bettina

    A slight ew at the “How am I going to give her an extra drink so I can get her back to my place?”

    Giving women substances to impair their judgment in order to have sex with them or try to have sex wtih them or to up your chances of having sex with them is definitely not OK. This is a prime example of what I mean when I tell guys to be careful of how they speak. This is NOT dating behavior that you want to condone by suggesting that it is “normal” because “all guys do it” or because it “works.”  

  6. 6
    saint stephen

    Margo said: (#2)
    Any other scenario ladies, and the guy is just hanging around using you. This is what happened to me with my recent loser.
    Now Margo i do not like the sound of this… Ladies often want to color guys Dark. why would ladies wind up feeling used in the first place (and not the guys)? just because he left and you ended up feeling used doesn’t make the guy a loser. both of you were consenting adults. you had fun while it lasted, admit it please. 

  7. 7
    Gem

    I love the videos too! Straight to the point.

    It’s true….all my relationships became ‘relationships’ within 6 weeks time max, and all were drivin forward by the man. It was obvious that they were excited (as I was) about the connection, and wanted to secure a relationship and not play around.

    I’ve never been in a relationship that wallowed in the ‘dating casually’ arena for months or more, then finally became something. Frankly, I wouldn’t wait around long enough to find out.

  8. 8
    Lily

    After watching your video, Evan, I decided to initiate a discussion with the man I’ve been dating for 8 months and sleeping with for 7 months. He has been on the online dating site where we met almost every day this week, and this makes me feel fearful. (I don’t think he knows I can see when he has been online on the site.) When we began sleeping together, we agreed that we would be exclusively sexually, and I have enjoyed the relationship, but I do not want to continue on with him if he is going to go visit an online dating site after 8 months of dating me. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when he logged in today after having great sex with me this morning! His profile is hidden (as is mine), but he posted a new photo of himself earlier this week. It just makes me uncomfortable and unhappy and after listening to Evan’s videos this week, I know it’s not right for me to be with this guy right now, even though I am afraid to be lonely.

  9. 9
    Margo

    @”Saint” Stephen no. 6. Stephen, he plyed me with alcohol, asked me into his bed because I was “too drunk to drive”, then persuaded me to take my pants off because he “didn’t like the feel of clothes against his bare skin…”. Then after proceeding to tell me “we should wait”, in the morning, he was on top of me “prying my legs apart”. Ok, I was participating. I know that.
    Thing is, he knew I wanted a relationship because I told him. He was a friend first, so he knew me. Anyway, after the fact, he hung around and enjoyed the sex for awhile, Not long before he excited, he gave me this song and anc dance about I shouldn’t have given it to him so easy.

    Do I feel angry and used in the short-term? Yes.

    Am I glad to see him go in regards to the long-term? NO. Why? Because he’s a hypocritical user. Remember what Karl was telling you about these guys, Stephen? In the long-term, who would want them??

  10. 10
    Gem

    Lily,
    I understand your fears and dread of facing the pain of a break-up but ask yourself what will hurt worse:
     
    1.) Standing up for yourself and doing what is right by yourself and ending things on your own and first…or
     
    2.) Waiting, hoping and eventually the pain when he does it, and you knew it was coming….
     
    #1 is acting from a place of strength, #2 is acting from a place of fear. Strength is always better. It will hurt to loose what you ‘thought’ you had, but you know you deserve to be loved and cherished. There is nothing cherishing about having sex and within hours uploading pics to advertise to new women.
     
    Take care of yourself.
     

  11. 11
    Margo

    @Lily #8, Lily…If he’s having sex with you and within hours is uploading new pics on a dating site, can’t you tell you’re being used?

  12. 12
    NN

    #9 Margo

    Couple of questions: Why did you go to sleep in his bed?
    He can’t say “clothes bother his skin”.. when he gets no skin contact.
    Rule 1. Couches are what you have to sleep when you stay over at a friends place. I wouldn’t sleep with a female friend in the same bed, let alone a male friend unless there was sexual chemistry.

    I say that as “I know what I am talking about”

    I did that same mistake you did once, and I was mad as I felt used.. but hey, it was partly my fault.  He went over the line, but he was drunk as was I.. too bad, and mistakes happen.

    These days after being mad at him for a few months (6 years ago) he is now again my best friend and I trust him wholeheartedly. (So does his girlfriend who is cool with our friendship)..
    He won’t make that mistake again, and I learned the previous rule “never put yourself to the position where nature might lead both of you further”
     

  13. 13
    Michael17

    Women, for the most part, are rarely focused on the date itself. Half the time you’re on the first date with him, you’re trying to see through him and predict the future:
    “What’s wrong with this guy? Where is this headed? Is he financially stable? Does he believe in marriage? Is he a player? Does he respect women? Does he want children? He better not hurt me. I don’t want to waste my time.”
    Whew.

    It makes some sense at first EMK, but thinking about it more, I’m not sure how it jibes with my experience. In fact, a recurring theme here on your site is how many women are too focused on “chemistry” and will turn down second dates with otherwise promising guys because of a lack thereof. I mean Evan, I’m sure you’ve heard your female clients say a bunch of times things such as “he seems really nice and seems to have a solid job and seems to be ready for a serious relationship, but I’m just not feeling it with him, so I won’t be going on a second date with him”…

    It does explain why many women often seem to have their guard up going into the first date though.  Maybe a lot of women go into a first date with their guard up asking these questions, but then if they feel “chemistry”, their guard tends to come down and they stop asking themselves these questions at least for the time being?   

  14. 14
    jennyana

    Hi everyone,

    After reading all these comments and thinking about it,last night I went to talk to the man I was dating (almost 8 months).  I wanted to know where I stood.  Deep inside me I knew he didn’t want a commitment with me.  We parted ways.  Does it hurt?  Yes, alot, but I also have a sense of peace.  I didn’t want to stay with someone that didn’t love me or wanted a LTR with me.  We had a lot of fun, and I don’t regret going out with him.  The first 5 months were really incredible.  It hurt when he said that he doesn’t see himself in a LTR with anyone (he’s never had one), but there’s nothing I can do about it.  I heard this once: “If you love something let it go, if it comes back, it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was.”

  15. 15
    Margo

    NN, I shouldn’t have went to sleep in his bed, but by that time we had had 2 bottles of wine. I never, ever drink that much. Still, I should have just slept on the couch.

    We were friends, not close at this point, but we had known each other for 2 years. But, we had just started dating. This was the first date at his apartment and it was movies, dinner, and wine. I should have known better since there was kissing and heavy petting on the couch before we retired for the evening.

    Still, if he wasn’t a hypocrit, he wouldn’t have held something against me that he was responsible for initiating.

  16. 16
    Jennifer

    Margo,
    There is no scenario where your guy sounds like a good guy and I’m sorry for your pain. But I wouldn’t call him a user.
    To use someone there usually has to be a level of decieit involved- pretending to care about someone, openly lying to them, etc. From what you’ve described, that’s not what he did.

    He was smarmy and shady from the outset! ‘doesnt like the feeling of clothes agains. His skin’ ? I wouldve invited him to put on some pants or found myself on his couch. ‘prying’ your legs open? Even if I had maybe wanted to sleep with the guy, having my legs ‘pried’ open would make it an automatic no.

    These are things that happened on your first date… To me It was obvious he was ‘running game’ and it doesn’t look like he was even trying to pretend to be a good guy. So I would maybe call him a jerk but not a user. I’m sure in hindsight you can see the signs- they were there before you had sex.

  17. 17
    Michael17

    RE my post #13, I do agree, as a guy it is all about attraction at the moment.I do feel a drive to get her attracted to me enough to get physical, whether we are on the same page with regards to marriage, kids, whatever. Now I said I “feel a drive”. I am mature enough to recognize it for what it is and *make a decision* not act on that drive if I suspect that the woman and I aren’t on the same page with regards to other issues.

  18. 18
    Michael17

    Lily, you need to break up with him. He’s not that into you now, and ironically the only thing that could inspire him to be into you is for you to move on. (The moment you do decide to move on might make him realize what a good thing he threw away, and actually inspire him to chase you, so watch out!)

    When I am truly into a girl, I have no desire to meet anyone else. This sometimes starts as soon as I get your number really, but it better have happened by the time we sleep together. Or it probably won’t happen ever, short of you being the one to walk away or pulling back yourself. I might keep putting myself out there until it’s clear that you probably feel likewise. But in the end, I’d rather be exclusive with one great girl than just “dating”. 

     

  19. 19
    Heather

    @Michael17:

    You’re right but for me it comes from a different angle.

    I have dated a couple of guys who acted “into me” for a few months and then revealed that they’d never felt anything for me but wanted to “give it a chance and see if something developed.”  That had hurt me so much.  I genuinely thought they were really into me.  I felt led on and lied to.

    So now, if I do not feel anything or am just uncomfortable with him, I gently let him know that while he’s a nice and decent guy, I do not want to lead him on.  I don’t want someone else to feel the way I felt, lied to.  The guy I don’t feel anything for, deserves a girl who DOES feel something for him. 

    I know this might sound like I’m tooting my own horn but I’m not.  Maybe I’m wrong for doing it but I do it to keep someone else from getting hurt.  Why should I lead a man on?  All that will happen in the end is the guy feeling like I did, used.

  20. 20
    Lily

    I broke up with him!
    And, miracle of miracles, the man I started dating a few weeks ago (yes, concurrently with the guy that I suspected was using me… what can I say? I like to have a man in my life and I suspected a breakup was imminent, I just didn’t feel safe)
    So, the new man already (after the fourth date) has asked if we can take down our online profiles, has introduced me to his daughter, has taken me on an outing with his friends, and wants to spend as much time as possible with me.
    So, I guess I learned a lesson (but, at least, guy #1 gave me a bunch of rehabilitative sex after very bad sex in a very long marriage) and I learned to listen to Evan… 

  21. 21
    Honey

    Jake and I agreed to be exclusive on the first or second date, largely because he was moving to another city for a 3-month internship.  I told him flat out that I wasn’t going to be in a situation where we were going to be driving back and forth to see each other if we were going on other dates during the week.  The other city was 2 hours away, and we saw each other every other weekend (he did half the driving and I did half).  Pretty much as soon as he moved back to my town he asked me to be his girlfriend.  So, yeah…if you like the other person, you make an effort.

  22. 22
    JB

    Bravo Evan on the video’s so far !! They’re great !! You should be as big as
    De Angelo and certainly bigger than Christian Carter by now.Can’t wait for the full multi disc feature hopefully you’re working on?

    On a different note,I’ve just had the rarest of rare things happen(at least for me….lol) I met 2 women in the same week I like equally and I don’t really feel comfortable persuing both simultaneously.I’ve already planned a 3rd date with one and a second with the other.Both are nice,pleasant,cute,fun etc…. so I just take it one day at a time.One of them even took her profile down after 1 day because she was barraged with emails.I’m not naive but neither of them seem to be the “multiple dater”type but I don’t really know obviously.I’m smart enough to know that I have to get to know each of them over a bit of time and hopefully it will sort itself out.

    And Lily….I’d had 2 or 3 dates with a woman I really liked once and she put up new pictures and I felt bad so I know how YOU must of felt. Good thing you’re in a better place now.

    1. 22.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Thanks, JB. Way to go on the positive dating news.

      Pursue both of them simultaneously – don’t tell them that you’re doing so, because dating is inherently “don’t ask/don’t tell” – and pretty soon, one women will emerge as your favorite.

      Enjoy your high-class problem and things will sort themselves out. Plus, you get to keep your integrity by not sleeping with either of them until you know whom you want as a girlfriend.

  23. 23
    Margo

    Lily, that is great news! :)

  24. 24
    LK

    I LOVE your information Evan Thank you!!  You’ve definitely opened my eyes to how much of my thinking was faulty… I’m now open to possibilities that I wouldn’t have been open to before and I’m so much more happy because of it.  The guy I’m dating now fits the “good guy” Beta type you describe that’s possibly a better fit for us alpha females… And I’m definitely using much more of my feminine energy (that I definitely have) to my advantage… when maybe in the past I would have thought my accomplishments/etc spoke for themselves. 

    He is still in school and works overnights/overtime right now so we only see each other once a week (his only free night) but we talk on the phone every night and text several times a day too.  I just worry he’s in a different spot in his life and I have decided to take my dating life more seriously after turning 35 (where did the time go??).  He’s younger than I being 32 and although says he wants a long term relationship/ does reference the future like future activities together etc, says he wants kids/ family/ marriage and isn’t pursuing anyone else/ profiles are down… he still hasn’t convinced me I’m not wasting my time or that I’m the one he wants to build that life with.  I don’t want to be too pushy about it either. There’s always risk in relationships… and sometimes we just have to be patient and go for it!   We’ve dated for 7 months now (at one night a week for the most part) and I just worry I fall into both sides of this equation and I’m confused… to stay or go!!   

  25. 25
    Marie

    I just saw this article, and how painfully true. I just broke it off after getting back together for a couple of dates, and my typical pattern tends to be to jump out, then miss that person and regret or think I’ve made a mistake and hint so, further hurting myself. On the upside as much as he wanted to have sex (as did I), I didnt go there this time. So I kept a drop of dignity. As well I can really give someone whom I recently met who is definately the steady Eddy type, constant contact, reading up on good date ideas. I’m trying to break my patterns with going towards the chemistry and use my head more instead. I’m still sad, feel rejected because given his actions and then his response I wasn’t worth it to him, but….I’ve freed myself up. Time heals anyway, eh?

    Hope I don’t have to return to this article in the future to remind myself of when it’s time to break free! :)

  26. 26
    JB

    @ Evan #23 “you get to keep your integrity by not sleeping with either of them until you know whom you want as a girlfriend”

    Well Evan it wasn’t as easy as that ^^^. The situation of the 2 women resolved itself quickly when one of them went back to her boyfriend. I dated the other one for 2 months but I don’t make anyone my “girlfriend” before I have sex with them and see that we have THAT “chemistry”. Sadly we didn’t have it so I had to let her go. I didn’t want to lead her on and she understood.

  27. 27
    Greg

    Whew… wish I saw the site sooner. Just got pushed by a woman I have been seeing for the last four months. We had sex in about week 8 or so; wanted to call her my girlfriend then and she recoiled with a big no.

    Basically, I was a male version of FOB; helping her find a job, consoling her on bad interviews and results.  Been out nearly a 10 months now.  BUT she was not wanting ‘relationship’ and like the opportunity to meet new people. We had alot of passion but held off on the intercourse.. seemed like a good compromise.  

    Ok, we are both in our 50s and it seemed reasonable as we were both seeing others. But the ‘busy’ signal in her calendar was not satisfying and I wanted more.  At thanksgiving she disappeared on Friday and did not resurface until Sunday night, telling me that she was not ready for a relationship and wanted to go slow.  Ok…since then its been reasonable but I did not feel confident .  Again I tried to be ‘modern’ in my approach and enjoyed in physical touch. I tried to be endearing, supportive, available to her as a down payment of my intent.  On Wed night after the movie and some couch time I began talking about the beginning of a relationship.  By Thurs PM she wanted to talk; on Friday over the phone she walked away.  Not surprising she seemed unconcerned about me cancelled a very nice New Years Eve dinner I had arranged.

    Bottom line, I let the signal go by me atleast twice … in week 8 or so then then at Thanksgiving.  She wanted to be ‘friends’ but not a relationship.  It has torn me up over the last two days, but this site has help me alot see what I should had been looking for.  BTW as reference, I came out of a 25 yr marriage two years ago, started dating a year ago, and just did not know the ‘new rules’ .  Now I do and I feel in much more control of events and what is reasonable.

  28. 28
    Nassu Toledo

    I met on Match a guy , very nerd, but liked his smile, he winked, I winked, then he winked again, then email then reply to him, then a date, every day multiple texts, phone calls even from across the Atlantic, then another date then his soon to be ex wife call off the divorce process and the guy was like a lost puppy back home. He lied when stating at Match that he was divorced, he was separated only, and all he wanted was to forget about his ex. This is the second time it happens to me, a “vulnerable, broken hearted, lonely” man who pretends to be ready to move on and is just a player. Thanks for your advises Evan. The 2 month period of time to escalate the relationship is perfect to stop wasting time.

  29. 29
    Cara

    This has helped me in an almost opposite way to most here it seems. I’ve been single for a while after having various mostly short term relationships where i didn’t feel cared for or that i really mattered. This made me very fearful of future relationships,  I’m only young but have been through enough guys not caring/using me to really put me off seeing anyone, i’d occasionally try a date or two but nothing worked for me, Pretty sure it was me blocking things though. Until recently,  i randomly messaged a few guys on the dating site im on and i really seemed to click with one,  we chatted a lot and decided to meet,  all seems to be going well.  We’ve been seeing each other about a month,  he  comes to see me,  messages me,  buys medinner etc… He seems great.  He has expressed his wish to make me him girlfriend and I’ve been apprehensive.  I’mscared,of getting hurt again,  of going through the motionsjust for it to not work…  this post however has got me to think about various things. Previously I’ve been the one to push for a relationship but this time is different,  maybe the relationship will be and maybe i should just relax and see how it goes. Maybe I’ll say yes to being his girlfriend. 

    1. 29.1
      Julia

      I think it would be great thing for you to do Cara. Seems like he’s into you, relax and enjoy it!

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