Rule #38- Exclusivity

via Hanh Dung – Son, Bùi Linh Ngân

A few years ago I took a short trip to New York (City). In-between Broadway and cocktails, my host, a friend from back home, admitted how difficult she found dating in the city.

She was used to dating one person at a time, and having exclusivity a given from the get-go. This new concept, of dating a few people simultaneously, was a foreign concept to her.

Which made me wonder, what guarantees us exclusivity?! Going out a couple of times, dating for a month, maybe even three,  having sex on a regular basis, only once, ‘I love you’s’?! (and let’s not forget those wonderful people who just completely neglect to notify their significant others that they don’t believe in monogamy). At what point is it SAFE TO ASSUME you’re the only one? At what point is the OTHER PERSON the only one?

What do you do when there is such a fine line between cheating and ‘still seeing other people’?! 

I have to say that I spend copious amounts of time pondering this rather daunting  question, and I’ve reached the conclusion that there is no social convention as to when one should adopt monogamous relationship patterns. 

Isn’t it wonderful, how there is just no social consensus on this sticky matter? (where are ironclad dating laws when you need them?!)

So how does one deal with this rather awkward situation? 

1. I feel like if you’ve gone out with someone more than a couple of times (let’s say three for us indecisive types), you do it because you are interested in them. You aren’t necessarily picking out a band for your wedding just yet, but you are interested in pursuing something. 

If you do see a future, STOP hedging your bets! Sometimes it’s a good idea to risk everything for a higher return. The more you are willing to invest in the person you just started dating, the more you will stand to gain from the relationship. Taking a risk is a good thing, and with relationships, you have to take a chance on someone else if you want things to go somewhere. 

2. TALK TO THE PERSON YOU ARE DATING! If you feel there is something there, ask them if the relationship is exclusive, or tell them you want it to be. Never assume anything these days! (because everyone has a different idea on the subject). Some people, because that is what is acceptable in their circles, won’t stop seeing or even sleeping with other people unless you define the relationship as exclusive. 

3. Ask yourself if you would be comfortable if the other person found out you were still seeing/sleeping with other people… If the answer is yes, you wouldn’t want them to find out, then you are de facto hiding it from them. In which case…

Make a decision! Either stop messing around, or break it off with the person you are seeing, because it isn’t fair to anyone involved! 


  1. Definitely important to be clear and up front about it, even if it feels a little bit like high-school when you’re saying, “Will you be my boyfriend/girlfriend…?” (with emphasis on the my – like you said, you can’t assume anything these days)

  2. When my now-husband and I started dating, and had been out a few times, I brought this subject up and he seemed completely baffled by it. It was as though it had never occurred to him that one could date more than one person at a time.
    I agree that it’s the best course to be up front about it.

  3. I guess there are no rules, except for the rules we lay down on our selves! What works for one, may not work for another. Thank God we live in a world of free choice (and taking responsibility for our own actions!)
    Ingrid :)

  4. After sleeping together, before the second time, I just ask, Are we exclusive? Cause if we are I need to fire my other boyfriend. This takes the pressure off, and you don’t sound too needy.

  5. Your posts remind me of Sex and the City, the series I love! :) I am married therefore I am out of the “dating ritual for singles” but keeping the flame alive as a married person is a whole other thing :) I love your posts.

  6. Ask your doctor. Mine once told me to only go out with one girl at a time. He said more than that is bad for your blood pressure. Though I am not sure if there is any evidence from randomized controlled trials on this (joke). In fact, sometimes even one might be too many.

  7. At the end of my first date with my husband, I was thrilled when he said to me, “Consider yourself off the market!” I loved knowing where I stood from day one and never had to second guess. A total class act :)

      1. I only “freak out” if I’m not feeling the same way. But I landed the most amazing person, so of course I was thrilled!

        I certainly don’t believe in games, which is probably why a lot of people find themselves to be unlucky in love. When I listen to some of the things single people do and put up with, I cringe! :)

      2. You can usually tap into the energy/vibe of a person, but a lot of people refuse to do that because they’re so afraid of being alone, which is silly. It’s a big world out there and so much to do and you always meet people when you least expect it. I’m only 5’3″ and far from a supermodel but I never had a problem meeting guys, so if one wasn’t working out I’d just break up and move on. Which is great karma, btw, because it frees the other person up to meet someone who is more right for him anyway :)

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