The Difference Between an Exclusive Relationship and a Committed Relationship
While an exclusive relationship and a committed relationship may sound identical, they have some key differences to be aware of.
Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about exclusive and committed relationships to avoid confusion and help you navigate the dating world with confidence.
The Difference Between Committed and Exclusive Relationships
What is an Exclusive Relationship?
An exclusive relationship generally refers to a relationship where both partners agree they are not seeing anyone else. Although you both feel comfortable saying you are not seeing anyone else, you may not feel comfortable labelling the relationship as ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’.
You may or may not see a long-term future with this person. An exclusive relationship can be a great way to get to know someone without the pressure of commitment or labels.
What is the Difference Between a Committed Relationship and an Exclusive Relationship?
An exclusive relationship often avoids the use of labels and may or may not turn into a committed relationship. Exclusive relationships focus on enjoying each other at the moment and taking a ‘see where things go’ approach, whereas a committed relationship focuses on the present and a shared future.
A committed relationship refers to a partnership where you are both looking toward a future with each other. You’ll likely discuss important topics, future goals, ambitions, careers, a family, and finances in either an exclusive or committed relationship.
The difference is that when you discuss these topics in a committed relationship, you’ll be thinking ahead to a shared future. An exclusive relationship is more about individual ambitions and goals that do not necessarily include the other person.
If you are hoping for a committed relationship with your partner and wondering if they feel the same, it may be helpful to pay attention to how they talk about the future. When they discuss a house, their career, a family, or their goals, are they including you as part of it? Or are they only talking about themselves?
For instance, take a look at these two statements:
I’m planning to buy a bigger house because I’d like to have a family someday.
If we buy a house, I think we should look at at least three or four bedrooms so that we have plenty of room if we decide to have a family.
Both of these sentences are discussing important topics and the future but there is a significant difference in intention.
One sentence discusses a future and the desire for a family, but it’s a very “I” focused goal that doesn’t necessarily include the partner. Alternatively, the second sentence indicates the desire for a shared, committed future.
When your partner talks about the future, are you part of it? Or are they always focused on themselves and vague about your potential role in their future?
If you want commitment and to see a future with your partner, make sure their intentions match your own.
Should You Become Exclusive in a Relationship?
Every partnership is different and will come down to the preference of the individuals involved. One couple may become exclusive after a few dates, while others may wait months or decide to never become exclusive.
It is important to ask yourself what you want out of a relationship and what kind of relationship will fulfil you.
Consider asking yourself questions such as:
- Do you want to find a partner to plan a future with?
- Are you looking for something casual right now?
- Do you still want to be able to date other people?
- Are you comfortable seeing someone that is also seeing other people?
- Have all your previous relationships been casual? Or more serious?
Related Reading: Signs You Struggle With Commitment
When Should You Bring Up Becoming Exclusive With Your Partner?
A lack of communication and assumptions almost always leads to heartache when it comes to relationships, especially casual or exclusive relationships. If you are in a relationship, it can be stressful if you aren’t sure where you and your partner stand. When in doubt, bring it up with your partner. Honest communication is the best way to avoid confusion, misconceptions, and hurt feelings.
Being in an exclusive relationship certainly offers some stability, but if you want something more with your partner and want to focus on a long-term relationship, it is time to speak about it. Tell your partner that you see a future with them, want a deeper level of commitment, and would like to see your relationship progress.
It can be uncomfortable to bring it up, but being honest and clear with your partner is imperative and ensures you are both on the same page.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you want to move from an exclusive relationship to a committed relationship:
Plan What You Want to Say — No need to write a speech, but have a clear idea of what you want to say. Be ready to explain to your partner why you see a future with them, why you want a deeper commitment, how you are feeling, and what your needs are in the relationship.
Talk In Person — For this discussion, you’ll want to meet in person. Avoid texting, emailing, or calling.
Respect How They Respond — Of course, you want your feelings reciprocated if you approach your partner about moving to a deeper level of commitment. However, if they do not feel the same way and do want to label the relationship or do not see a future with you, that is their choice. It will hurt, but it is important to respect how they respond.
Stand Up For What You Need — If your partner does not share the same feelings about moving to a committed relationship, that is okay and their feelings need to be respected. However, if a committed relationship is what you need to be fulfilled, you have every right to leave the relationship and find a new one that will match what you need in your life right now and align with your desires.
How Long Should I Wait for a Partner to Be Willing to Commit?
If your partner wants to be in an exclusive — not committed — relationship, they may be taking the time to get to know you without labels or pressure. If you’ve been in an exclusive relationship for a while and you are both still happy keeping it non-serious and free of labels or expectations, great!
However, if you have been in an exclusive relationship and see a future with your partner, you may start wanting more commitment.
Have you already approached a partner about moving from an exclusive relationship to a committed one but keep getting unclear answers or a promise that they will commit once they reach a certain point or accomplishment in their life?
Be wary of a partner that constantly says “I’ll commit when this happens…” or “once I do this, I will be ready for a committed relationship”.
If a partner does see a future with you, they’ll be willing to commit to you now, or soon, regardless of what stage of life they are in. A partner that constantly has an excuse for why they won’t commit but still wants to keep you around may be leading you along and keeping you around because it is convenient for them.
Often, the same partner that says, “we’ll get serious once I get this promotion” or “once I accomplish this I’ll be ready for a committed relationship” or “once I get over my past relationship, I’ll be ready”, may just keep coming up with more excuses even after they meet their current goals.
If it’s been a few months and your partner just got out of a serious relationship not long ago, it makes sense that they will want to take things slow. But if it’s been years since your partner’s last serious relationship and they continue to use it as an excuse to avoid committing to you, it may be a red flag and likely means that they will never commit to you.
If you want a deeper commitment and your partner is not ready or does not foresee a future with you, it may be time to move on and find a partner that matches your needs.
Are You Struggling to Find the Type of Relationship You’re Looking For?
If you aren’t sure if you are in an exclusive relationship, speak openly and honestly with your partner to make sure you both feel the same and have the same expectations. Talking clearly and honestly with your partner is the only way to make sure you both share the same feelings and goals for the relationship and are on the same page.
As one of the top matchmaking agencies in Australia, we know how tough it can be to manage your professional life and still find time to find a meaningful relationship. We provide comprehensive matchmaking services, including lifestyle consulting and relationship coaching, to ensure we help you find the love you are looking for.
If you want guidance on your romantic life, are curious about the benefits of lifestyle consulting, or would like to join our bespoke matchmaking service, please contact us. We are here to answer all of your questions, discreetly, to help you get started on the path to finding a genuine, fulfilling relationship.