The Match Lab

13 Signs You’re Not Exclusive, Even Though You Think You Are

Think you and your partner are exclusive?

It might be time to think again.


Unless you and your partner have had a direct conversation about your exclusivity status, you can’t make any assumptions about it.

No matter how much it feels like you two have become exclusive, there’s still a chance your partner feels differently about things.

And there are several key signs of nonexclusivity you need to look out for. 

13 Signs You’re Not Exclusive

Here are 13 signs that you’re not exclusive with someone, even though you might think you are.

These signs reflect various ways in which people develop feelings of comfort, intimacy, commitment, reliable expectations, and security in a relationship.

1. Lack of Communication

One significant sign that your relationship is not exclusive is a consistently poor or lack of communication with your partner.

If you notice that your partner is frequently unresponsive to your texts or calls, it’s a red flag that they’re not fully committed to engaging with you.

Consistent unaccounted silence can indicate a lack of interest or commitment in the relationship.

2. Absence of Future Talks

Another sign to look out for is the absence of discussions about the future in your conversations.

Talking about the future together is a healthy behavior in a secure relationship.

If your partner avoids or expresses discomfort when talking about the long-term future, it’s a sign that they don’t feel committed to staying in the relationship long-term, and odds are they don’t see it as an exclusive partnership.

3. Limited Family Interaction

Limited interaction with each other’s families can also indicate that a relationship is not exclusive.

If your partner rarely introduces you to family members or actively avoids meeting your family, they may not see the relationship as serious and long-lasting.

Meeting the family is often a crucial step in solidifying a committed, exclusive relationship for the long haul.

4. Visibly Active Dating Profile

In today’s world, social media and online dating play significant roles in how people find and build relationships.

Being aware of your partner’s activity on these platforms can provide insights into the exclusivity of your relationship.

If you notice your partner still has an active dating profile and is regularly logging in or updating their profile, this is a surefire sign that your relationship is not exclusive.

5. Absence on Social Media Presence

Another potential sign that your relationship may not be exclusive is the absence of your partner on your social media accounts.

If you haven’t been tagged in any photos together or mentioned in posts, it could indicate that they want to maintain a degree of distance or secrecy.

Of course, this one isn’t a hard and fast sign of nonexclusivity, as some people don’t use social media much and some couples just don’t share their relationship publicly like that.

6. Absence of PDA

In a relationship, public displays of affection (PDA) can be an indicator of exclusivity and commitment.

When you two are around friends or out in public and you don’t have any PDA like holding hands or kissing, it can be a sign that your relationship isn’t exclusive.

Note that some people are less comfortable with public displays of affection, but a clear absence of PDA altogether can indicate someone’s unwillingness to showcase their connection to you.

7. Erratic Body Language

Another sign you’re not exclusive is erratic body language.

In an exclusive relationship, consistent and positive body language between partners often demonstrates a strong connection.

If your partner’s body language seems disinterested or uncomfortable when you’re together, it’s possible they’re thinking about someone else or not fully invested in the relationship.

For example, if they avoid eye contact, keep their arms crossed, or create physical distance between you, it might be an indication that they’re not fully committed and want to maintain a feeling of separation.

8. Limited Emotional Intimacy

In relationships, emotional intimacy is crucial for validating exclusivity and building trust.

When you and your partner are not fully emotionally invested or vulnerable with each other, it may be a sign that your relationship isn’t exclusive.

Emotional connections go beyond simple physical attraction and are formed when you share your ups, downs, and personal feelings with your partner.

If you notice that the emotional bonds in your relationship are shallow or non-existent, it’s a sign your relationship might not be exclusive.

9. Restrained Self-Disclosures

Self-disclosure is when you reveal personal information about yourself to your partner.

This back and forth allows both of you to better understand one another.

By ensuring that both emotional involvement and personal information sharing are present in your relationship, you create a foundation for a strong, committed, and exclusive connection.

Maintaining a balance in self-disclosures is essential for developing trust and fostering closeness in a relationship.

If your partner is a restrained self-discloser, it means that they prefer not to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with you.

This could indicate that they are emotionally unavailable or unwilling to invest emotionally in the relationship by seeing it as exclusive.

10. Less ‘Me Time’

When you’re in a non-exclusive relationship, you may notice that your significant other has less time for themselves when they’re not with you.

This could mean they are spending more time with other people, reducing their availability for ‘me time.’

Even though relationships naturally involve spending time together, if you find that your partner never has time for themselves, this could be a sign that they’re dividing their time between multiple partners.

11. Inconsistency in Availability

Another sign that your relationship might not be exclusive is inconsistency in availability.

If your partner’s schedule constantly fluctuates, with periods of being extremely available followed by times when they are nearly impossible to reach, this could indicate they are seeing other people.

A truly exclusive relationship typically involves a balanced availability where both partners make time for each other and themselves.

12. Not Making Plans in Advance

If you and your partner don’t plan things together in advance, it may be a sign that your relationship is not exclusive.

People who are truly committed and invested in a partnership tend to make plans together ahead of time, whether it’s a vacation or just a night out.

If you find that your partner avoids discussing upcoming events or making plans with you in the coming weeks or months, it could be a sign that they are hesitant to commit to a continuing relationship with you.

If your partner seems uncomfortable when you try to bring up your future together, it might be due to their underlying commitment issues.

Recognizing this sign early on can help you better understand the situation and make decisions about the relationship moving forward.

13. Hesitance Towards Labels

Lastly, a final sign that your relationship is not exclusive is if your partner is hesitant to put a label on your relationship.

Labels like “boyfriend,” “girlfriend,” or “partner” typically show a sense of commitment and exclusivity in a relationship.

However, if your partner is hesitant or outright refuses to use these labels, it may be because they are not fully committed to being exclusive.

Having open and honest conversations about what labels mean to both you and your partner can be helpful in understanding where you both stand.

Knowing Whether You’re Exclusive

In order to know for sure whether you’re in an exclusive relationship, you need to talk about it directly with your partner.

An exclusive relationship means you and your partner are fully dedicated to each other and not pursuing others romantically, and that takes trust, open communication, and mutual commitment.

Feeling secure in this agreement is an essential component of building a healthy relationship.

The more open and honest you are with your partner, the better equipped you’ll be to navigate the complexities of becoming exclusive.

Being in a serious relationship requires both partners to be emotionally invested and willing to put in the effort.

Exclusivity goes beyond the label. It means integrating your partner into different aspects of your life and being there for each other during both good and challenging times.

Remember, deciding to enter an exclusive relationship is a personal and shared decision.

It should be based on open communication and a genuine desire to commit to one another.

By evaluating your feelings, understanding the signs of exclusivity, and maintaining open communication with your partner, you can work together to establish a strong foundation and foster a lasting, healthy relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions About Exclusivity in Relationships

How can you tell if your relationship isn’t exclusive?

If you find that your partner avoids discussing the nature of your relationship or commitment, this can be a sign that you’re not exclusive.

Unaccounted for silences or pockets of time where they don’t return texts or phone calls might also hint that they’re involved with other people.

In a non-exclusive relationship, you might notice that your partner is not consistently spending time with you or avoids making long-term plans together.

They may also keep you separate from their close friends or family, which could be a red flag. 

How long should one wait before becoming exclusive with a partner?

There is no one-size-fits-all duration for waiting to become exclusive, as it depends on each unique relationship.

Some people may become exclusive after a single date, while others might take several months to reach this stage.

Trust your feelings and discuss the situation with your partner to see if you’re on the same page.

Does dating exclusively mean being in a committed relationship?

Dating exclusively typically means both partners agree not to date or engage in romantic activities with others.

However, this doesn’t automatically mean that you’re in an official relationship.

It’s important to have open discussions with your partner to clarify where you both stand and what your expectations are moving forward.

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