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Are we dating? How to navigate the murky world of exclusive dating

You’ve got a special person in your life. They know your favourite team on FIFA and you know their favourite subreddits to binge.

But are you in an exclusive relationship?

Every relationship is different, but these pointers from people who’ve been in your shoes (fingers crossed they didn’t stand in anything gross) might help you figure out where you stand.

Even if you’re just stuck in your bedroom, you can make it look like you’re on a tropical island with some filters and stuff.

Wondering where to draw the line when it comes to exclusive dating vs relationship? It’s murkier than a Stormzy track.

Are we dating or are we a couple?

We’ve all asked this question because relationships aren’t liked games where you can see a progress bar, or it’s not like a notification pops up telling you ‘Level up! You’re in a relationship’. Be cool if it did though.

Try not to make assumptions because that’s when things can get confusing. If you haven’t had the talk, there is nothing to say either of you is bound to dating exclusively. Rules around this are pretty fluid though, which is why some people assume that dating automatically means dating one person.

The only way to sort this out is by being brave and maybe getting an answer you don’t want. But avoiding the talk about having an exclusive relationship can lead to more awkward conversations later on, so it’s best to get it out of the way early. Think, ripping-off-a-plaster vibes.

Online dating: when to be exclusive IRL

Exclusive dating when you’ve met online or on a dating app can be a little less straight-forward, especially if you haven’t had a chance to spend much time together IRL. The main point about online dating exclusivity is who’s getting your chat, so you need to consider twosomeness on a different level.

One of the best stages to do this is when you’re asking for their actual phone number to take things off the app. It’s a sign you’re vibing pretty well with this person, so have a think about other people you’re messaging off the app and whether you’re feeling just as good about them.

So, what do you do if you’re dating exclusively but not in a relationship, relationship?

Wondering where to draw the line when it comes to exclusive dating vs relationship? It’s murkier than a Stormzy track. If this is an issue, you and your crush need to have a talk to decide whether you’re both happy with a casual vibe or if you want to make things official. Just remember, commitment to a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean ‘together forever’, just that you’re happy to let the world know you’re loved up and off the market.

Even just by having the chat between yourselves, you can avoid the pressure of official labels and just enjoy whatever you’ve got going on, safe in the knowledge that you’re both on the same page.

The two most important things when it comes to exclusive dating are to a) talk to the person you’re dating, and b) figure out what it is you both want. If the answer to that is ‘each other’; congrats! We’re already buzzing for the Valentine’s IG post.