Should you date someone who’s seeing other people?
Australia’s leading relationship expert Georgia Grace, answers all the questions about where the line is drawn between dating and exclusivity.
The dating game these days is extremely confusing. With the plethora of ways you can meet people, from the countless dating apps to friends and social media, the blurred boundaries around when things progress from ‘casual dating’ to ‘exclusivity’ can often lead to hurt feelings.
Is it okay to date someone who’s seeing other people? How do you show someone you’re more invested than the other people they might be seeing? When can you bring up the topic of exclusivity without coming off as too ‘desperate’ or ‘clingy’?
We asked leading relationship expert Georgia Grace to answer all your burning questions about the fine line between dating and exclusivity.
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Should you date someone who’s seeing other people?
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer here as it’s context dependent.
“Firstly, you need to ask yourself this – ‘how comfortable do you feel dating someone who is seeing other people?’” Grace says. “It may be perfectly liberating for you and you may thrive off the independence and the opportunity to also date others. Try seeing other people to explore if it’s something you enjoy too, and you may discover something new about yourself. Or you may struggle and feel jealous.”
The thing is, you won’t know until you try.
“You also can’t make assumptions about the other person’s relationship choice,” Grace adds. “Sure, it could mean that they don’t want to be in a relationship, or it could mean that they are practicing ENM (ethical non-monogamy) amongst a whole bunch of other reasons.
“The only thing that is certain – you must talk about it; about your boundaries, what’s working for you, your expectations, and so on. Making assumptions and ‘reading minds’ won’t get you far, and is likely to induce anxiety, stress and fear.” Something we can all relate to a little too much.
Where do you draw the line between dating and exclusivity?
Regardless of what stage of a relationship you’re at, communication is always going to be key.
“I often find in new relationships lots of assumptions are made based on a mythical dating handbook,” Grace explains. “There is no rule book, no answer Google can serve you; the only way you can get clear on the difference between dating and exclusivity is talking about it.
“If you’ve decided you’d like to be exclusive, it’s very likely that the person you’re with doesn’t actually know you’ve made this decision. The same goes for telling someone you like them, and you want to continue dating others,” Grace continues.
“These conversations can certainly take some courage and I know how vulnerable it can feel, so give yourself a pep talk – practice with friends, receive professional support, and just do it. It could be a real turning point in your relationship.”
How do you bring up the topic of exclusivity?
It’s a tricky and confronting situation, but Grace recommends any of the following is a great conversation starter:
- ‘I really like what we’re doing and I want to check-in with you, are you seeing other people?’
- ‘I’m into you and I had a great time. Before we go on another date l want to let you know that I’m seeing other people. How does that sit with you?’
- ‘I like you and I don’t want to continue seeing other people. For this relationship to work for me, I’d want to be exclusive with you. How do you feel about that?’
What are red flags indicating you should stop dating someone who isn’t exclusive yet?
Okay, so maybe you truly want to become exclusive with someone you’ve been dating for a while, and you’re ready to take the leap with asking them with one of the above questions. But there’s a little voice at the back of your head that’s holding you back.
Before you dive into a relationship, it’s important you take off the rose-coloured glasses and consider if the other person has indicated any red flags. Here are a few to look out for:
- Poor communication skills
- Incapable to tell you what they want
- Unable to be open and vulnerable
- Dismissive of your experiences
- Unable to hold space for you
- The rules/boundaries change constantly and it’s hard to keep up
What are some questions to ask yourself before getting involved with someone?
Not only should you consider red flags before getting involved in a relationship, but you should also get in touch with your feelings and ask yourself the following questions:
- How comfortable do I feel dating someone who is dating others?
- How well can I communicate my needs, desires, boundaries, consent?
- How well do I know my own needs, desires, boundaries, consent?
- How well do they communicate with me?
- Am I able to respect their needs, desires, boundaries, consent?
- Am I willing to try this?
And remember, communication is the key to any successful relationship – so muster up the courage and get talking!