You’ve been dating a man for 2 months. There have been some issues to work out, but generally you really like the man. A discussion of exclusivity comes up. You each share what you need from a relationship to be exclusive and the other agrees to try to provide it, or if you know you can’t make meet a need, you say so. You both decide you’d really like to focus on each other and not date others. You agree to only see each other and remove your profiles from any dating sites.
A few weeks pass and your man is making some attempts to provide what you say you need, but the effort is inconsistent. You rack it up to he’s trying and you don’t expect perfection. But you aren’t consistently getting enough of what you want and you’re feeling disappointed.
You share this with him. He promises to try harder. Which he does for a few days, then slacks off to old habits. You wonder if you should give up some of your needs as they seem so difficult for him to provide, or if you should keep reminding him. He seems sincere in his interest to give you what you want.
Another week or two pass. You realize he isn’t really trying to provide what you need. You like being with him so don’t want to cut it off, but you are left without some critical needs being met. You realize you’d really like to date other men, especially a few you’d met right before you decided to become exclusive with this man. You think they might be a better fit for you.
You realize you’ve agreed to be exclusive too soon. You could renegotiate, telling him you’d like to date other people. But you know he feels strongly about monogamy, so you’re doubtful he’d go for it. You either have to stick it out with him a while longer to see if he will make more effort to give you what you want, or break it off entirely.
The problem, you now see, is you agreed to exclusivity without enough evidence that he would provide what you want. You had it backwards and should have agreed to exclusivity only after you had certainty he was willing and able to meet your needs. You bet your heart based on faith. You said yes based on his promise, not on his demonstrating action first.
Before agreeing to exclusivity, communicate clearly what you want and need. Discuss if anything the other wants isn’t possible or probable. Then wait for the consistent and prolonged demonstration of the promises, not just words. Only then should you enter into an exclusive relationship. Not before.