The exclusivity talk (and other new relationship concerns)

One of the things I find to be most stressful about dating is the uncertainty. There is no one set of rules or guidelines to follow, so it’s basically the wild goddamn west out there–everyone is playing by their own rules and timelines, and you’re constantly wondering if you and another human being are on the same page. Naturally, this lends itself (at least in my case) to the following:

  • stress
  • wine drinking
  • constantly consulting one’s girlfriends on gchat
  • comical misunderstandings

Just off the top of my head, here are some timing-related questions that have come up in my few months of dating D:

  • When can you start packing an overnight bag to stay at the other person’s place? The first time I slept over at D’s I wasn’t sure if I was invited to stay the night (we had made plans to watch movies and that’s it). I didn’t want to be presumptuous, so I stuffed underwear, a toothbrush, face wash and Lord knows what else into my purse like a legit call girl. When he was all, “of course you’re invited to stay the night!” I started to pull random items out of my bag like I was Mary Poppins’ slutty niece. (I’m sure this is a proud moment for you, mom.) Of course now my overnight bag resembles something settlers would take on the Oregon Trail, complete with a full bevy of toiletries. #noshame
  • When is it cool to leave something AT the other person’s place, like a toothbrush or a hair dryer? We all (and by “we all” I mean TV loving ladies and gays in our late 20s and 30s) remember that SATC episode where Big presents Carrie with a pink toothbrush head and it might as well be a flawless 3 carat Tiffany cushion cut, it’s so significant. Also, FUN FACT: as L recently discovered, finding hair and beauty products in a guy’s apartment is a great way to spot a cheater.  

  carrie big toothrbush

  • When does the inaugural fart happen? And who farts first? (again, time to swell with pride, mom). FYI, if you just answered ‘never’, you are reading the wrong blog. I assure you. I actually have a soul crushing story about this that I’m not going to tell you all out of sheer humiliation. UGH fine, if you must know, it was me. I farted first. Super early on, too. For the record, it was IN MY SLEEP and I wouldn’t have even known about it if D hadn’t decided to fully traumatize me by telling me (In a totally teasing way, but still. FML).
  • When do you introduce your significant other to your friends and/or family?
  • When do you start referring to that person as your boyfriend/girlfriend/boo?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before many if not most of those questions can be addressed, there’s this fun little doozy:

When do you have the exclusivity talk?

If you haven’t been out in the dating world recently (you lucky bastard), you may think that after a certain stretch of time it’s just implied that you and the other person are exclusive. Let me assure you:

nope

First rule of online dating: assume nothing. We here at StuCu have learned that the hard way. For instance: don’t assume your date is single, and definitely don’t assume they’re not a serial killer until you can do a full background check. And of course, don’t assume if you’re dating someone for an extended period of time that they’re dating just you. Because if you haven’t talked about it, they’re probably not. #jaded

My experience with the ‘are we exclusive’ talk is comically limited. I’ve gotten really used to (and honestly, really comfortable with) some variation of the following:

Okc dude: Hey so, I really like you.

Me: I like you, too.

Okc dude: I just want to be completely honest: I’m not looking for anything super serious at the moment.

Me: Okay. Thanks for being honest.

Okc dude: But let’s keep seeing each other and see what happens?

Me: Sounds great.

In summary, the noncommittal dating anthem of our generation. I mean, thinking back on these conversations with guys is actually fairly depressing in hindsight. Not that there’s anything wrong with casual dating…

seinfeld

But if I’m being totally honest (with myself and you guys) on at least one occasion I definitely told myself I was cool with this arrangement when in reality I wasn’t, because I liked the person and didn’t want things to end. I know. Pathetic. But to quote a 90s goddess:

Back in January, D and I had this very talk (and by “talk” I mean the whole thing went down over text. Oh, modern dating.) As much as I’d like to say it just came up organically or I was brave and breezy enough to be direct with him over drinks, of course the reality was totally random and awkward. I wish I could screen cap the entire thing for your viewing pleasure, but my phone decided to wipe all my texts when I updated my iOs, so this is me paraphrasing. Here’s how it went down:

Random Weeknight in Early January

Me: (in the middle of how’s your day type small talk) What are you up to tonight?

D: I have a date.

Me (internally): ……….. bridesmaids-what is happening

Me (trying to be breezy while I figure out what the eff to say): Oh, really? Where is it?

D: blablabla date details.

Me: Well, uh…have fun?

D: Thanks.

After that supremely awkward exchange, I sat and stewed. Wtf was he getting at, telling me he had a date? Is that what people do now? They just go out with each other and then openly share when they’re going out with someone else? I was pissed. Not about the date (okay, maybe a little about the date), because to be fair we hadn’t had an exclusivity talk at that point. I was still active on Okc, and I too had been out with someone else recently. And I of course didn’t know this at the time, but by this point D had already found the blog and was reading all about my dating shenanigans. 

I guess I was just… insulted. Why was it necessary to tell me that instead of just saying he had dinner plans? Most people get that until you have the exclusivity talk, dating other people is basically a don’t ask/don’t tell situation. I knew, despite my instincts to not make a big deal out of things like this, that I’d have to talk to him about it.

Again, paraphrasing:

Me: So listen. I know we haven’t had any sort of talk about exclusivity, and that’s fine. You’re well within your rights to be seeing other people at this point. But could you just not tell me? I was a little taken aback when you did, and I think I’d just appreciate it if we didn’t bring it up to each other.

D: Of course. But to be fair, you asked what I was doing, and I wanted to be honest.

Me: I think this is a great example of being a little too honest. And I’m not trying to rush things. If you need time…

D: I don’t need time. I know who I like. (not gonna lie, I swooned a bit when he said this. It’s only after remembering it months later that I realized D never actually said he liked ME. He could have technically been talking about some other girl. Glad that worked out!)

D: I’m going to go on this date, because I don’t want to be rude and cancel the same day. But after that I’m done.

Me: Me too. So…we’re officially just seeing each other, then.

D: Yup.

So there you have it. Our first date was in mid-November so we had “the talk” about a month and a half into seeing each other. Now if D hadn’t created an opportunity, albeit an awkward one, for us to talk about this, I’m not sure how long I would have waited to say something. Probably another few weeks, tops.

What about you, readers? How long do you wait before having the exclusivity talk with someone? Do you just go for it or do you wait for the other person to bring it up first? Leave us a comment!

PS – this is completely unrelated to the subject of the post, but I can’t not bring it up. When I asked D about his date during our original convo, he revealed that they were going to a restaurant IN MY HOME TOWN in Jersey. The second he said that, I was positive I knew the girl (my little town is not exactly a hot date destination). Naturally, the next time I saw D I completely grilled him about his date. He was all waaaaaait, I thought you didn’t want to know about it and I was all dude, of course I do, because

crazy

I told him about my theory that I knew his date and he was all ‘Pssshhhh no way’. But you know what?

I WAS RIGHT. I TOTALLY KNOW HER. We went to high school together. Boom. I called it. Just had to gloat.

high five

God, being right is the best.

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