Anyone ever gone out on 1 or 2 dates with someone, and then it turns out they took those few dates to already imply a commitment to exclusivity, and that dating anyone else is tantamount to cheating? Not complaining at all - this isn’t a complaint thread - but what’s a diplomatic way to communicate that that commitment wasn’t made?
Yes, happened to me once. The young woman said to me in no uncertain terms that we now had an exclusive relationship. I should have ended it right then, would have saved me 8 months of unnecessary drama.
I’ve been on both sides of that, although not after 1-2 dates. I dated my wife non-exclusively for a couple of months before we became exclusive (by mutual consent), and I was dating another person before that, where I thought we were exclusive and she didn’t.
I was not very diplomatic in either case. In the first, I just went out on dates with other women, and told my future wife that I was busy at those times if she asked, or suggested something. In the second case, I dumped the woman.
I better never date again. I don’t know what the rules are. Isn’t there still a thing like “going steady” that is established as a definite milestone, and where both parties decide on it?
For my past dating history, by the time I even get around to calling it a date, I was thinking we’re committed, but that says a lot about the fact that I never asked out random people or used dating websites. I asked out people I knew from class, social groups, work, etc. So it wasn’t “What’s your number? Let’s have coffee,” it was more like “We already like each other. Maybe we should have a real date.”
If I was going to make it clear that it wasn’t exclusive or committed, I’d say something like “We’re still getting to know each other” or something like that.
Or just turn it back around with something like “I didn’t realize you felt that way about it. I had a different set of assumptions.”
I am a HUGE believer in non-exclusive dating. This social practice of assuming exclusivity until somethings goes wrong wastes everyone’s time and leads to emotional weirdness. Both men and women do this (well, men tend to assume once you’ve slept together, you’ll be exclusive) and it’s a terrible way to find a mate.
I think that first you need to be honest with yourself about your position. Do you see this eventually becoming exclusive? If not, that’s fine, but you should lay that out there.
If so, what would be the turning point? Are you also weighing other options? Or just want some time to get to know her? Or is there a potential deal-breaker that you want to see if can be worked through? Or are you just having too much fun dating? The answer will shape your response.
Start a conversation, listen to her, and then lay it out there. Don’t cushion things-- she’s a grown up and frankly she’s better off not getting over committed to someone who isn’t at that same place. This is not a bad conversation. It’s a good one. But the downside is if she is only interested in you if you are exclusive and you don’t intend to be, it’ll probably end things. But it will end with less drama than it would have otherwise.
“Hey you! We’ve been having a lot of fun together and I’ve really enjoyed your company. What do you think about how things are going?”
Then as appropriate:
“I’ve been dating for a while and frankly I’ve been enjoying getting to know people. It’s something I want to keep doing, at least for the near future. I really enjoy your company, but I’m not looking for an exclusive relationship with you right now. And of course, I want you to feel free to find what works best for you, though I would love to keep seeing you. Can you live with that?”
“I’ve been dating, and I really want to make sure that when things become exclusive with someone, it’s for the right reasons and not just inertia. I really like you and I’m really excited about where this is going, but I want to take it slow and give this time to develop, and that means I’m not quite ready to be exclusive. Let’s keep doing what we are doing for another month or so, and then see how we are feeling then.”
“I really like you and I am having a lot of fun. But honestly I’m not sure if I’m going to be a great mate for an quadruple amputee stripper with 5 kids and a goat farm. That’s a lot for me to take in, and I want to make sure we are really right before we get too invested in each other. I never want to be in a place where I let you down, you know? So let’s hold off on being exclusive whole we get to know each other more.”
Good point, if two people are already familiar they may be more likely to expect commitment.