Does agreeing to sexual exclusivity mean you’re not dating anyone else? Alli and Jen give advice to a dating app user who isn’t sure where she stands.
Q. Is sexual exclusivity the same as dating exclusivity? I’ve been sleeping with a guy for two months; we agreed we aren’t sleeping with other people. But the other night I saw him texting another girl! Help!
Veronica, 28, Baltimore, MD
A. Unfortunately, it’s entirely possible that he’s dating you and a bunch of other girls, but only sleeping with you. Like, 100% totally possible. We hate to say it, but that’s a fact in our new digital world. New people are available with the click of an app. Sad, but true.
On a somewhat bright side, most humans know deep down when they’re being fuckfaces, which could explain his being protective of his cell phone. (We’re not saying he is seeing other people, but it is definitely a possibility.) Also, data is on your side — our study showed both 91 percent of men and women assume you’re “dating exclusively” if you’ve agreed to sexual exclusivity.*
So, if you’ve been seeing each other for three months and are regularly knocking boots (jk who wears shoes during sex), human intuition (and reason, tbh) tells us that you are headed in the direction of a relationship — unless you’ve discussed keeping things casual and commitment-free.
91 percent of men and women assume you’re “dating exclusively” if you’ve agreed to sexual exclusivity
We do know of guys who purposely avoid “the talk” so they can be all, “Well, we didn’t have the talk.” GUESS WHAT GUYS (AND GIRLS): IF YOU HAVE TO CONVINCE YOURSELF THAT IT’S OKAY, THEN IT’S SUPER NOT OKAY. Alli has a guy friend who was totally doing this, and it was clear that both girls thought they had an exclusive relationship with him. Alli shamed the shit out of this guy friend so badly the night she heard all the details that he actually made a decision the next day and ended it with one of the girls. Moral of the story: Friends don’t let friends be fuckfaces, and women don’t let other women get fucked over, okay?
So what can we do about it? You have to say what you want in an appropriate way, at an appropriate time (i.e. not accusation-laden, and not when you’re already naked). If you want sexual exclusivity, tell him “I’m not sleeping with other people. Are you?” And if you want dating exclusivity, tell him “I’m not seeing anyone else. Are you?” And if you want both: “I’m not sleeping with or seeing anyone else. Are you?” Then, take the conversation from there and accept only clear responses, even if it’s not what you want to hear.
Some dudes will try to get away with semantics. If he does, that’s a red flag, but don’t worry. You’d rather find out sooner than later.
ALLI GOLDBERG AND JEN JAMULA
Allison Goldberg & Jen Jamula are the creators of two live comedy shows — Blogologues and How To Break Up By Text — both of which look way too closely at online dating, and now they’re here to share with you all the things they can’t unsee. Their work has been featured on Good Morning America, in WIRED, Forbes, VICE and more, and at one point Time Out NY ranked them among the top ten funniest women in NYC — but they were ranked as one person. Send questions to Alli and Jen at firstname.lastname@example.org.