What Does Exclusive Dating Mean?

Gabrielle Applebury
young couple on a date

Exclusive dating can have different meanings depending on who you ask. The standard definition is when both partners are solely committed to each other and are no longer seeing other people.

Different Opinions on Meaning

The trouble with the term exclusive dating is it leaves a lot of room for interpretation. What may be exclusive dating to you may mean something completely different to your partner. It is important to communicate openly with your partner so you both can decide how to define your relationship, how you want to introduce each other, and what the next level of commitment would look like going forward.

To some, exclusive dating means just dating each other and no one else. This can come with varying levels of commitment based on many personal factors. For many, the labels boyfriend and girlfriend go hand in hand with exclusive dating, while others view this as a totally different commitment level. For those that view boyfriend/girlfriend labels as separate from exclusive dating, there may be the assumption having those labels means dedicating all of yourself to each other, while exclusively dating would mean the person is no longer interested in dating multiple people. Still others see exclusive dating as exactly the same commitment level that goes along with the labels boyfriend and girlfriend.

Identify What It Means to You

To determine how you define exclusive dating, think about what this term has meant to you in the past, and what you would like to define it as going forward. Once you have determined what it means to you, you will have an easier time sharing it with your partner. Keep in mind your friends, family members, and past partners may all have differing ideas of what exclusive dating means. This can become confusing, so it is best to figure it out for yourself. After all, you are the one in the relationship.

Clarify Your Partner's Interpretation

Once you have figured out what exclusive dating means to you, think about how you came to this conclusion. It may be based on your past experience, your culture, your age, your upbringing, and your social group. Before chatting with your partner about what it means to them, share what it means to you and why you feel that way. You may want to ask your partner:

  • What does this term mean to you?
  • How would you like to introduce each other?
  • Are you comfortable using the labels boyfriend and girlfriend?
  • What's the difference between dating and exclusive dating to you?

Enjoying This Relationship Stage

Getting to this point in your relationship is exciting. You both have determined you want to see each other and no one else. Be sure to specify how you both as a couple want to define this term so you can stay on the same page.

What Does Exclusive Dating Mean?