From the Archives: Oh, You’re Dating Him too?

Having strong feelings, spending a considerable amount of time together, having sex, meeting the parents, etc. are not indicative of exclusivity. You go to the movies, meet for happy hour and have even gone on a few quick weekend trips. It’s the perfect relationship until you find out he is also having that type of fun and intimacy with someone else. You think about all the time and emotion you’ve invested and you’re disappointed in what you ended up with.

One thing that I learned very quickly during my early dating experiences as an adult is to never assume anything — especially when it comes to exclusivity. When you’re under the assumption that he is seeing only you, you’ve already set yourself up for major disappointment. I don’t know about you, but I want to make sure that my person of interest is on the same page as I am BEFORE I take my heart from under my sleeve Spanx® and put it on my sleeve.

Think of it like this: You wouldn’t assume that you have a full tank of gas before you and the girls make that six hour drive to D.C. would you? Of course not, you would check your tank to ensure you can get to your destination without getting stranded. Same thing goes for assuming when you’re dating someone. When you assume exclusivity, you risk being stranded; strandedmoocer2 with your emotions left out there with no certainty of the end result. When you know from the beginning that the person you have interest in is dating other people it allows you to “fill-up your tank” with the appropriate emotions so you don’t get stranded during your dating journey. In other words, don’t put all your lip gloss in just one hobo.

Here’s the bottom line, if you’re dating someone, take it for what it is: DATING.  A lot of times we women choose to invest our time in someone who won’t even verbalize commitment, which makes no sense. Granted, it is easy to get wrapped up in the assumption of exclusivity when he makes you feel good, but you can’t let your heart do all the leading ALL the time. No matter how good you feel, that doesn’t change the fact that he may being seeing someone other than you (and that’s okay if you can handle it). Feelings have no relevance when it comes to knowing if you’re exclusive or not. Period. The ONLY way to know where you stand is to ask. Trust me, you won’t seem like Thirsty McJackson if you ask him if he’s dating someone else. Ideally, the “Are-You-Dating-Other-People” question shouldn’t be brought up after your first martini. But it should be brought up in one of your conversations sooner than later. If he says no, take his word for it and don’t-over think things. If he says yes, props for the honesty and don’t over-think things. Regardless of the answer, it’s still vital to keep the lines of communication if things change.

The best way to not fall into the assuming exclusivity trap is to set boundaries and expectations for your dating relationship. No matter how much you like the person you’re dating, don’t provide them with boyfriend/girlfriend perks if you’re not exclusive. Perks are extremely subjective and are not one-size fits all. For example, a boyfriend perk for me is sex. If we are not exclusive with one another and we have not made a commitment to be, it’s not going to happen no matter how good he looks in a suit. This perk may not be realistic to some people, which is totally understandable, but know ahead of time what limits you’re going to set for yourself when dating. Setting limits makes it easier to walk away from a dating relationship that’s not conducive because you know upfront what you’re willing and not willing to do. A lot of times we’re so busy trying to figure out what the person we’re just dating will do for us, we forget to truly assess the things we will and won’t do for them. I assure you that once this is done, the thick line between exclusivity and dating will be much clearer.

About Muffie Bradshaw, Coach

Muffie Bradshaw is an award-winning relationship blogger and coach who has been seen on The Steve Harvey Show. Other works include online magazines including, but not limited to, and With many relationship experiences, including breakups, dating successes and disasters, Muffie knows firsthand the mistakes women should avoid when going through the ups and downs of dating. Through her writing and coaching services, Muffie specializes in helping women reach a higher level of understanding regarding their dating lives through self-assuring decision making techniques, self-reflection and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) inspired methods.

15 Responses

  1. Hey Muffie, this is a great post. You are definitely keeping it real. I think women (and men for that matter) are afraid of what that answer may be if they ask, “are you dating anyone else.” It’s best to be transparent.

  2. rathernotsay

    Great post! I think ( this is only what I think) a woman should make the man do all of the “work”. Men these days seem to be all over the place so a female should just go out and date several men at a time and have fun. Date meaning going out and having a blast on sex,no kissing ..simply having fun! I think the female should be in control at all times because we tend to get more attached ( not always) This may sound childish but when I was dating I would never do the first calling, texting , arranging of any dates for until the 1st 3 dates had past…. it was a formula that worked great for me it helped me to move quickly weed without potential, without ever feeling disappointed… it actually made me feel empowered to know each man I dated I would be in control. He couldnt get me to where he wanted to be before he was already there with me…. im serious it sound childish but men are so simple to figure out women tend to overthink, or try to guess what the guy is thinking/feeling… like you mentioned just ask or u can follow a ” dating formula ” that works for you … that you use with every single man that you date which makes him put all the effort men LOVE the chase … I could go on and on about how GREAT you feel if you actually did this but im sorta going off topic …great blog cant wait to read whats next… and by al means if you disagree with what I wrote please share 🙂

  3. rathernotsay

    yes!!… im new to blogs how do I find other topics or is this the only topic??? Sorry but I have no idea and I would love to read more!

  4. Great point of view from a woman’s perspective that should be well received by other women. Many times a man won’t take the initiative to speak on the state of the relationship if the woman positions herself in a casual (available) manner, or if he knows he isn’t interested in her long term. However, sometimes it’s just the case that he’s observing her in different situations and hasn’t made a decision how to move forward. Fully agreed not to over-think things…one of the best and worst things a woman can do is give a man an ultimatum.

  5. This is a great post. Communication is the foundation for any successful relationship. Everyone should read this post if they’re serious about improving their relationship and being on the same page with their partner(s) 🙂

  6. Tori

    I love it. Way too much time an energy can be spent on relationships that go undefined for too long. Also love the girly metophors. Chic 🙂 Cant wait to read more!

  7. Not only should you be asking if the other person is dating someone else, but you should be asking what steps they are taking to protect themselves (and you) from sexually transmitted diseases. Big elephant in the room since “dating” others generally also means having sex with more than one partner. In my day, you worried about getting pregnant. Today, you have to worry about catching something that can’t be cured. If you’re a woman and you don’t know absolutely that you are the “only one”, demand that he cover up or go home. If you are a man, be smart and protect yourself…all that looks clean, isn’t!!

  8. I know we harp on guys A LOT about communication, or lack there of.

    But the truth is, especially when it comes to exclusivity, guys are usually more clear & explicit about what they want, than women are.

    Whether its the “I’m not looking for a relationship right now” (shudder) line, or “I don’t just want to be your rebound” (drool) – guys don’t mince their words.

    We’re the ones who tend to not say what we mean, or mean what we say, when it comes to guys.

    Despite my best efforts, with several guys, this lesson has always rung true in the end. We can’t complain about something we were warned about.

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