Why “Being Exclusive” is Ruining Your Relationship
Millennials are commitment phobes. We have grown up believing that feelings will only bring despair, relationships are a waste of time, and that we’re all “special.” When we do finally find someone that we (begrudgingly) start caring about, we drag out the process for as long as possible before actually putting a label on things (or DTR, to incorporate some millennial slang for you). “Oh no, he’s not my boyfriend, we just have a thing.” Or, “We’ve officially been dating for two months, but we’ve been exclusive since last October.”
At first, this logic seems to make sense. Why rush into a relationship with someone before you’re ready? Putting labels on things doesn’t change the way you feel about each other, right? At first, maybe this roundabout way of handling our relationships did make sense, but now that everyone and their mother has a “thing” rather than a bonafide relationship, things have become less secure and more insane.
The thing about “being exclusive” with someone is that nobody really knows exactly what that means. If you’re lucky, you and your partner are exclusive for a bit, then your relationship blossoms into something more serious, seamlessly. If you’re not lucky? Your “thing” generally tapers off into one of these less fortunate options…
You basically end up dating anyways…but not in the way that you imagined.
By being exclusive with someone, you eliminate all other potential lovers from your life. Therefore, you end up becoming even more invested in your curent partner than you were before. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the situation can get complicated when neither of you have actually defined ground rules to your “non-relationship.” While you might be exclusive sexually, you never discussed anything else. Therefore, when you see something as innocent as your man dancing with another chick at the bar, you might get pissed.
But, are you allowed to be pissed? After all, you’re not technically his girlfriend, and you never technically said that you wouldn’t dance with other people. You don’t want to seem crazy, so you’ll just not bring up the fact that you are secretly pissed at him for letting that skanky blonde chick grind on him. To retaliate, you’ll just snag that football player from his rival team and start dancing on him.
Because you’re not “technically dating,” neither of you are probably comfortable talking to one other about serious feelings like jealousy, hurt, or even love. Instead of facing your problems like a mature couple, you end up playing games like high schoolers. Rather than progressing from your “thing” to a real commitment, you two will probably end up in a whiskey-fueled fight, and end things abruptly.
You’re both loyal, but you treat each other like shit.
At worst, it can be said that the reason a dude wants to be exclusive with you is because he wants to claim you for himself, but doesn’t want to man up and be a proper boyfriend. This can obviously go both ways. Maybe you’re the jealous type and want to be exclusive to keep a dude to yourself, but you have no intentions of going home to meet his folks and baking him a birthday cake. Or maybe he wants all his boys to know that he’s got you on lock, but he doesn’t want to spend his time (and money) taking you out on dates.
Let me just ask you… what the fuck are you doing?
Jealousy is real, and it sucks. But by staying loyal to a guy that doesn’t treat you right, you’re keeping yourself from meeting a guy who will treat you the way you deserve to be treated. On the opposite side, if you don’t care enough about a guy to be his girlfriend, it’s not fair for you to claim him from all the other chicks in the world.
While it may be tempting to settle for “Mr. Right Now” instead of “Mr. Right,” settling never got you anything good in life, did it?
Surely, not every couple in an “exclusive” arrangement are doomed. But playing the “we have a thing” game can be one endless slippery slope. And at the end of the day, someone is going to fall down…hard.