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Afraid of the exclusivity talk

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  October 26, 2011 08:32 AM

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It's chat day.


Q: Dear Meredith,

Long story short, all of my relationships over the past year have been very intense for 1-3 months and then didn't work out for various reasons beyond my control (one guy was in love with another friend, another worked 70-hour weeks with no time for a relationship, and another moved away for the summer.)

Fast forward to the present. I've met a really great guy. We've been dating for almost 3 months and I'm getting paranoid about exclusivity. It seems like whenever exclusivity has been brought up in my other relationships, those relationships have come to an abrupt halt. Since I really like this guy and don't want to see things end, I've just avoided the whole conversation. It's kind of a one-sided exclusivity. I haven't been seeing anyone else and would really like it if he weren't either, but am just too afraid to bring it up.

Is this conversation something that a girl is supposed to start? Plus, just in general, is three months too early to bring up exclusivity? Too late? I know everyone moves at their own pace, but there's gotta be a mean estimate out their right?

The letter writer sent an additional note a few days ago. She explained that she did some digging about his past and found out through a mutual friend that her maybe-exclusive boyfriend got out of a long relationship shortly before asking her out. She says: The weekend after finding out this tidbit of info, he went out of state to visit a friend from college, who is a girl (a very sweet girl who I met at a party a month or so back). I was a bit hurt so I didn't contact him that weekend -- but he actively texted me with vague hints that he was wondering what I was up to without him. I'm trying to not be that jealous, needy girl and give him his space so that he can tell me what's going on in his own time. But simultaneously, I don't want to be the girl on the side if he's still seeing his ex (which I may be jumping to conclusions about -- this girl could really just be a friend). I can't let him know how I know about his relationship past (creepy), but at the same time it's just making this conversation about what are we doing after three months of dating all that more complicated.

Thanks for the help.

– Afraid of THE conversation, Massachusetts


A: You're jumping to conclusions, AOTC. Big time. I can't promise you that he's not seeing other people, but do you really think that he introduced you to one of his friends without telling you that she's his ex? And that he went to visit her because he's still seeing her … and that he texted you while he was there?

That doesn't sound right. It sounds like he visited a friend. But that's not really the issue here, is it?

You've been burned several times at the three-month marker, so you have every reason to be a little bit crazy about what happens next. But please, don't make it worse. Fight this with sanity. Tell this guy, calmly, that you're not dating anyone else and that you're really enjoying getting to know him. Tell him that you don't know what you want in the future but that you're wondering about exclusivity. You don't want to rush things, but you want to talk about what's happening.

It's not too early, it's not too late, and discussions about exclusivity have nothing to do with gender. You're dating someone who has been in a long relationship. He understands all of this.

No more digging around about his past (just ask). No more ignoring him because he goes away for the weekend (that didn't help anyone).

Take a deep breath, relax, and stop using your imagination to make things look worse. For all you know, a conversation about exclusivity could lead to something great.

Readers? What happens at three months? Should she bring up exclusivity? Is it weird that she doesn't know more about his past -- from him? Discuss.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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