In Summary

  • Say: “I really care about you. But I agreed to exclusivity before I should have. I feel confined by it, and that’s not right. Is it possible for us to step back and keep dating, without that promise?”
  • She may say no, and you may lose the girl. And your problem may be with commitment generally, not with her. But until you work that out, it isn’t fair to continue as you are, whether you dally on the side or white-knuckle-it-out, seeing only her in an arrangement that’s uncomfortable for you.

Q: My girlfriend and I have been going out for six months.

At about the three-month mark, she started raising the issue of dating exclusively. I really care for her, but I wasn’t ready for exclusivity. Still, I agreed. Recently, I almost hooked up with a girl I met at yoga, and would have if she hadn’t backed out. 

Please tell me how to handle this. I think I could be exclusive with my girlfriend in the future, but I am not there yet.

Of course, it would have been better to be honest with your girlfriend. Exclusivity in dating should not feel like jail. But I empathise. I get how you might have agreed because you wanted to please her (or wished you were ready to commit). But “you have gone wrong.” Talk to your girlfriend right away.

Say: “I really care about you. But I agreed to exclusivity before I should have. I feel confined by it, and that’s not right. Is it possible for us to step back and keep dating, without that promise?” (Confessing your aborted hookup strikes me as needlessly provocative. It would be the only thing she hears, and it’s beside the point. Your premature agreement is the main issue.)

She may say no, and you may lose the girl. And your problem may be with commitment generally, not with her. But until you work that out, it isn’t fair to continue as you are, whether you dally on the side or white-knuckle-it-out, seeing only her in an arrangement that’s uncomfortable for you. There are no fixed timetables in relationships, and temptations often arise. But next time, don’t agree to anything until you are eager to give it your best shot.


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