I recently met a great man. We met two weeks ago. He’s attentive (he texts and chats with me online every day), affectionate, asks me out regularly (we have seen each other multiple times every week since we met), and makes time for me (he has a lot of interests and activities). I am very happy (and he said that he is happy when he is with me) and like him the more I get to know him. Our chemistry was immediate (physical, intellectual, and emotional), and things have been very easy so far.
That said, things have been moving quickly. I am totally comfortable with the speed (how often we are communicating, seeing each other, and sharing information about ourselves). But, we recently slept together (it felt right and was great). But, we are technically not in an exclusive relationship (meaning, we talked prior to sleeping together and said that we were both able to date others if we wanted). However, we talked more recently, and we both said that we aren’t dating anyone else, but we didn’t explicitly say that we are exclusive. He still has his online dating profile up and checks it regularly (we met on the site). I trust him and know that he is honest, but now that we have slept with each other, it makes me feel vulnerable and nervous. I would like to know that he isn’t sleeping with anyone else and won’t be sleeping with anyone else while we are sleeping together.
Should I have the “defining the relationship” conversation with him, or should I wait and allow things to evolve more? I am scared of getting hurt and us not being on the same page. But, I am equally scared of pushing for something that is happening naturally and perhaps making him feel pressured and stressed about something that is easy and great, naturally.
What is the best thing to do in this situation? If I talk with him, how do I bring up having an exclusive relationship so that he doesn’t feel pressured? And, if I don’t talk with him immediately, when is the right time to talk about being exclusive (if he doesn’t bring it up)?
Okay, everybody pay attention and take out a pen and paper. I’m going to give you a cheat sheet to tell you the most effective way to get into an exclusive relationship with a new guy. Before I do, I’d like to pre-empt all of the people who are inclined to tell me I’m wrong because they did it another way: yes, there are 100 ways to do things.
You can theoretically have a casual hookup with a stranger in the bathroom of a bar and end up spending the rest of your life with him. That does not inherently make this an effective strategy. So, without further ado, here’s a few steps on how to tell if a guy wants to date you or just sleep with you:
1. Don’t stop seeing other guys until he’s acting like your boyfriend
In my 17 years as a dating coach, I’ve repeatedly seen the power of chemistry. After dating a bunch of losers online, she meets a great guy whose profile knocks her socks off. She gets all excited about him, and the first date does not disappoint. Now, this guy is such a front-runner that she drops every other prospect like a hot potato. What’s the point of talking to someone else when you like this one guy so much?
Just because you were at his place until 3 am does NOT mean he wants you as his girlfriend and does NOT mean you are long-term compatible.
Well… the other person isn’t necessarily as smitten with you. Just because you had a great date, just because you had electric chemistry, just because you were at his place until 3 am does NOT mean he is genuinely interested in a serious relationship with you as his girlfriend and does NOT mean you are long-term compatible.
It just means you have a serious crush with potential. Nothing more. That guy still needs to follow up regularly in order to prove himself worthy of an exclusive relationship. A text a couple of times a week? A date every 7-10 days? That guy is not your boyfriend. That’s a guy who is seeing you, seeing others, and keeping his options open. You do not commit to someone who has given no clear sign he’s committing to you.
Now, if he’s been calling you every night, and seeing you 3 times a week for the past few weeks, then yes, you can take down your profile and focus your energies on exploring this burgeoning relationship. Just wait to see if he’s acting like a boyfriend FIRST; don’t treat him like one until he’s earned it. (Tweet this quote!)
2. Practice sexclusivity (particularly if you can’t handle no-strings-attached sex)
I’ve written about this extensively so that I won’t rehash the entire argument. But, in short, if you want to be exclusive and you’re the type of woman who does not like the feeling of sleeping with a man when you have no idea whether he’s your boyfriend, STOP sleeping with men who are not your boyfriend. It’s not particularly complicated, but after years of giving this advice, I’ve discovered that it’s a) surprisingly controversial and b) surprisingly hard for women to execute.
So here’s the deal: if you like hook-ups based on mutual attraction, can easily separate sex from emotion, and have no real attachment to whether he calls you again, then, by all means, ignore this advice. This was specifically created to protect the hearts of women who have sex with guys they’ve recently met and proceed to get upset when they see him online, when he doesn’t text frequently enough, and when it’s become increasingly clear that he just wants to sleep with you, as opposed to having a relationship.
If that describes you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with four weeks of foreplay without intercourse, and if the guy bails, it’s because he really didn’t want a relationship with you to begin with. Bullet dodged.
Any questions about sexclusivity can be addressed here.
3. Don’t leave any daylight between exclusive and boyfriend. They’re one and the same.
Sometimes, when women who are new at “sexclusivity” bring it up to their men, they say something like, “So I just want to make sure you’re not sleeping with anybody else right now.” The guy says, “Nope. Can we have sex now?” She says, “Sure!”
And what’s just happened?
She’s now had sex with a guy who isn’t exclusive and NOT her boyfriend, and she still has no idea whether he’s seeing anyone else, whether he has any feelings towards her, or whether he’s going to call her the next day. He gets what he wants in the relationship. She doesn’t. And she thinks she’s following my script and holding out properly. Uh uh. Here’s what you actually say:
“Hey, I’m really attracted to you and would love to sleep with you. However, I don’t like having sex with guys who are actively looking for other women on Match.com. You can understand, right?” And he’ll say, “Yeah, I get it.” And then you’ll say, “So, when we both figure out if this is a relationship worth exploring, you’re in for the night of your life. In the meantime, I can think of some other fun things to do…”
And then you can proceed to explore each others’ bodies to the limits of whatever boundaries you decide to set. That’s it. If you want to be exclusive, you sleep with boyfriends only. Once you both agree to give a relationship a shot, there’s some great sex in store. It should be pretty hard for him to argue with that. If he does — if he thinks he deserves to get laid when he hasn’t committed to you — well, I guess he’s not going to get laid. His loss.
4. Take 4-6 weeks to assess whether he’s boyfriend-worthy
A man isn’t boyfriend-worthy because he’s cute and smart and funny. A man isn’t boyfriend-worthy because you feel a real connection with him. A man is boyfriend-worthy if he’s demonstrating that he’s genuinely interested in being in a relationship with you. Thus, you’re judging him not merely for your feelings towards him, but rather for his consistent efforts to call you and see you over the course of a month.
Any guy can be sexy and charming on a given date. How many of those same men prove to do it over and over and over again for 4-6 weeks? Not most guys.
An easier way to look at this is that you have MUCH more information about a person after, say, 7-8 dates than you do after 2-3 dates. If he’s still a great guy who calls consistently, sees you consistently, and seems to want to be monogamous, then you should feel secure in giving him a shot, as opposed to doing what most of us do: hopping into bed first, “committing,” and realizing that we’ve made a terrible choice due to chemistry.
If you are the type of woman who does not like the feeling of sleeping with a man when you have no idea whether he’s your boyfriend, STOP sleeping with men who are not your boyfriend.
This is not to say that it’s “wrong” to commit to someone before 4 weeks; merely that you’ll have a better sense of his true intentions if you spend time and vet him first, instead of giving him a free pass to boyfriend-hood because you like him and want to sleep with him.
To the original poster’s point, you really shouldn’t have to “bring up” being exclusive whether he’s your boyfriend. It’s the kind of thing that will be defined naturally by him calling you every day, spending every weekend with you, introducing you to his friends and family, and so on. In other words, you should both “know where you stand” without a heavy discussion. Finally, if you DID bring it up, he would probably laugh because he already thought of you as his girlfriend already.
Share this with your friends who want to know a healthy relationship timeline. It’s not the only way to do it, but I’m confident that it’s the most effective one.