There is a general decorum that should be followed when you’re dating someone who you really like, but have not yet had the “are we exclusive?” conversation with. It’s a frustrating, uncertain stage in dating when there is no label on what the two of you are. You’re not sure where you stand, and it is definitely a grey area.

If you’re quite taken with someone you are dating, but they’re not yet your one and only, technically you can do whatever you want, right? WRONG.

Here are 5 great tips to successfully make it through this common stretch of dating uncertainty:

1. Don’t Miss Your Window

There’s a window of opportunity to have that pivotal conversation, “are you seeing anyone else?” If you wait too long to discuss this, because you’re afraid of rejection or you don’t want to seem too eager too soon, you could very easily miss your window altogether.

While there is something to be said about not rushing into things, waiting too long can be equally detrimental. Another faux pas? The typical defense mechanism of attempting the conversation in a joking fashion, or while intoxicated. The conversation should be had in a serious manner, or not at all.

2. Act As Though You Are Already Exculsive

If you want to be exclusive with that special someone, you should act as though you already are – even if you haven’t had the conversation yet. The mentality some people have is that they can do whatever they want to do, as long as they haven’t yet agreed to exclusivity. Remember, though, that just because you’re technically not breaking any rules, doesn’t mean your actions won’t have consequences.

3. Stop Hedging Your Bets

Yes, I’m encouraging you to stop trying to keep your options open. It’s risky, but if the person you’re dating is someone you really like, the ultimate reward is probably worth the risk. Think of it this way: if you’ve got someone awesome standing right in front of you, why bother looking around the room? Not to mention, while you’re looking out for yourself, they’ll notice – and look elsewhere too.

4. Do Not Attempt To Manipulate Your Way Into Exclusivity

There are many people who have attempted to make someone they’re dating jealous in hopes to force them to have no choice but to discuss exclusivity.

There are also people who pretend to be something they’re not in order to manipulate their way into exclusivity. These and other manipulations will only accomplish one thing: making you look bad.

5. Remember, It’s All Subjective

Everyone’s situation will be different, so the only way to really know where you stand is to feel the other person out, trust your instincts, and eventually have a discussion. It should be simple. If you have a question about what the deal is – just ask! It’s understandably always more complicated than that, as there are reasons we may avoid asking what we want to ask. Take your time and be patient. Take a leap of faith. If you’re right for each other, and you’re mutually very interested in each other,  it should all work out.

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