Are Commitment and Exclusivity The Same?

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The other day my sister and her husband (Jake) and I were

discussing "exclusive" versus "committed."

Of course, we guys had a different opinion than my sister.

My little sister took the stance that exclusivity and commitment were the same. She theorized that once you've told someone you want to date them exclusively, you are committed to only them. You've made a commitment to be faithful, to put energy in only that relationship.

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Jake and I saw differences between committed and exclusive. We figured that exclusive simply meant that there was no hooking up with anyone else allowed: no making out, no dating.

Our theory on commitment was that it evolves slowly, long after exclusivity.

Essentially, commitment (in our guy opinion) is a juiced-up exclusive relationship. If I'm in an exclusive relationship, I can lie on the couch while she does stuff with her family. If I'm committed, I'm doing that stuff with her family. The example Jake and I used was:

"If I'm committed, I'm picking your dad up from the airport."

Commitment is when lives are intertwined so much that your lives become one unified life. It's the reason that my recently married friend suddenly had a calendar that he and his wife kept in Google that I had to check in order to make plans with him-their lives had become that intertwined.

To summarize, here are the signs to look for at each stage:

How to know you're "Exclusive"

You Agree About it Through Conversation

Exclusivity doesn't just happen. Usually there's some episode (someone gets tired of the other dating other people), or a moment (you sit down and talk about it) where you agree that you will be exclusive. In my experience, this is the only way to know you're exclusive: to talk about it.

How You Know You're Committed

You've Been Dating a Significant Amount Of Time

In my head, commitment takes a minimum of 6 months of exclusive dating.

You've Each Met Immediate Family and Best Friends

This usually happens piece meal (thankfully-can you imagine if someone assembled all of their best friends and family for you to meet at once?) Meeting the parents is a big deal.

You're "Living Together" In Some Form

You're either going to spend more nights a week together, or move in together. You'll have belongings at each other's place, like toothbrushes.

There Are Unspoken Expectations

This is when she's doing something with her family and you know you're supposed to be there, or when someone has to pick up her dad from the airport and only you can do it. This "unspoken expectations" level is one of the scariest thing about commitment for guys...because we are lazy.

Do you agree with me that commitment and exclusivity are different? What are your thoughts? Is it yet another difference in how men and women think?

Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/richravens

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