Never Try To Trick Men Into Being Exclusive



Name: D
Comment: I’ve been seeing a woman (let’s call her Jean) for the past month or so. We get together 2-3 times per week, and we’ve been having sex since our third date. I think there’s long-term potential, but I’m not ready to be exclusive yet. In the meantime, I’ve also been dating other women, though none of them have led to sex.

Last night Jean & I had a conversation about expectations. I have a long-distance FWB who comes to town about once every 5-6 weeks. She’s due in town again in mid-October. I had told Jean about her previously and said we have an agreement that if one of use finds someone we want to be exclusive with, we’ll stop hooking up. (This is 100% true. As it happens, I told the FWB just a couple days ago that there’s a good chance I’ll have to invoke that rule soon.)

Jean told me that she’s not asking for exclusivity, but she doesn’t want me to have sex with anyone else as long as she and I are having sex. So that means no seeing the FWB, which she specifically asked about. She said she was not asking for exclusivity, but that this particular case was a deal breaker.

I’m fine with that, but I’m not ready to be exclusive, and there’s a non-zero chance that I’ll have sex with some of the other women I’ve been seeing.

My question is, what’s my obligation here? Should Jean & I stop having sex for a while? Or do I only do that after I have sex with someone else?

I don’t lie, but I don’t necessarily volunteer everything. Jean hasn’t asked about any other dates I’ve been on, but since she pointedly did *not* ask for exclusivity, she’s at least theoretically aware I’m seeing other people.


Jean told me that she’s not asking for exclusivity, but she doesn’t want me to have sex with anyone else as long as she and I are having sex. So that means no seeing the FWB, which she specifically asked about. She said she was not asking for exclusivity, but that this particular case was a deal breaker.

Asking you not to see or sleep with your FWB is most definitely asking for exclusivity. She’s just using the back door entrance. I’m sure she believes she’s not trying to pressure you, but she is.

I had told Jean about her previously and said we have an agreement that if one of use finds someone we want to be exclusive with, we’ll stop hooking up.

This is why you don’t talk in any kind of detail about your extra curricular pre-exclusivity activities. You were honest. Foolishly honest. And now she’s using it against you in order to force your hand and commit.

My question is, what’s my obligation here? Should Jean & I stop having sex for a while? Or do I only do that after I have sex with someone else?

You’re not obligated to her unless you agree to give her what she wants. At that point you’re locked in.  If you give in on this, she’s just going to continue to put down these demands. I mean, really? She doesn’t even want you seeing your FWB? I mean, I completely understand why she’s uncomfortable with it. But she’s not your girlfriend. You’ve only been dating a month. She’s dictating not only who you have sex with but who you hang out with. Give in on this and you’ll never be able to re-gain any ground. I guarantee you that if you had been even more honest and told her outright that you’re actively dating other people, she’d have laid down an edict against that as well.

My advice is to make it clear to Jean that exclusivity is not on the table yet and that it won’t be until you’re both ready for it. If she bails, then you dodged a bullet.

Call her bluff. Tell her that, since you’re not ready to be exclusive, that you think it’s best that you and she stop having sex since you know she’s not comfortable with that. Basically, she’s using sex as a bartering chip in order to get what she wants. Two can play that game. So tell her you understand her concerns and you feel it’s best that you and she table the sex until you’re both ready to commit. Then see what she says. She’s going to get upset, of course, because what you’d actually be telling her – you know, in a back door kind of way – is that you’re sleeping with other people. Or at least want to. What she’ll really be pissed about is that her trick didn’t work.

If she’s smart she’ll say, “Okay. No problem. In fact, I agree.” Or she’ll say that you and she can continue sleeping together but she doesn’t want to know what you’re doing when not with her and that you have to use condoms. She’ll probably ask you to still tell her if you’re sleeping with anyone else.  If that’s what she says she wants, then give it to her. ( Though she really doesn’t want to know. That’s another false sense of security check point that pretty much always backfires.)  Then she’ll drop the subject, keep her own options open, and either you two will become exclusive naturally or she’ll find a guy who will give her what she wants and you’ll get out of a potentially tense and unhealthy situation. Or she’ll take her toys and leave the sandbox. Win/win all around if you ask me.

The thing is, just because she tried this approach doesn’t necessarily mean she wouldn’t be a great partner. She feels threatened because she likes you. That’s a good thing. Sometimes we let our insecurities rule us. It happens to the best of us.  But if she tries to push or force something before you’re ready, then she’s demonstrating to you that your needs and feelings aren’t terribly important to her. That’s a bad thing.


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29 Responses to “Never Try To Trick Men Into Being Exclusive”

  1. UWSGal Says:

    People like these two always have me shaking my head in disbelief. A woman who wants exclusivity should just come out and say so, period. Nothing wrong with asking for what you want. Wanting an exclusive partner does not make you needy/clingy whatever, no matter how some elements would have us believe. The guy sounds a bit disgusting with his long-drawn discussion on how “there may be long term potential there but i still may want to sleep with these other women”. For god’s sakes, do this lady a favor and dump her. Any woman, no matter how insecure, deserves better than a guy who wants to bed multiple women with impunity.

  2. Speed Says:

    Kudos to the OP for being able to attract and juggle so many women. However, this “relationship” is doomed. The “girlfriend candidate (Jean)” brings a prosecutor’s aggressive tactics into play: questioning, probing, looking for weaknesses, and trying to make the OP agree to a written statement that could be used against him later, if need be. If possible, she’d want an electronic ankle bracelet on him to monitor his movements.

    At the same time, the OP is like some sort of New Age Martyr, dropping truth bombs; this has the effect of coming off as humble-bragging, since he is showboating his harem to the girlfriend-candidate instead of being discreet. In his mind, this distinguishes him from a “player.” But this level of “honesty” comes off as cluelessness, manipulativeness, or just extreme narcissism.

    I give this tomfoolery another week, if that.

    • UWSGal Says:

      “But this level of “honesty” comes off as cluelessness, manipulativeness, or just extreme narcissism”

      completely agree with this..

      • fuzzilla Says:

        Yup, I completely agree, too. In fact, I think rubbing the FWB in Jean’s face rather than discreetly making plans with the FWB is *him* forcing *her* hand. But it’s true that Jean isn’t being direct or owning her feelings with the whole, “Naw, I’m totally cool with not being exclusive, except don’t sleep with anyone else” thing.

        If you’re really interested in someone, you wanna lock it down. If it’s new and you’re still testing the waters but you don’t want to torpedo any possible future relationship, you don’t throw it in their face that you’re screwing other people. Yup, really don’t see this lasting long.

  3. Yvonne Says:

    I agree that if someone isn’t comfortable with their partner having sex with others, then that needs to be discussed beforehand. I don’t know too many women who would be comfortable with that, even if it’s with the occasional FWB. Even though they might tell themselves it’s okay at first, the reality is different once you begin to develop feelings for someone (as usually happens for women in a sexual relationship). I’m not sure I agree that the woman in question is using “trickery” to get what she wants, but I do think she got sexually involved with this guy before she was actually ready.

    I also feel that it’s disingenuous to say that you’re not ready to be exclusive when you are seeing someone 2-3 times a week. If you’re not ready for exclusivity, then once a week is sufficient. Besides, how do you fit all those other dates and potential dates in, not to mention family, friends, activities, etc? Seeing someone that often is what people in relationships do, so I think that is sending a mixed message.

    • K Says:

      I think it’s sad that a person can’t go exclusive with someone they are seeing 2-3x a week with gf potential. Geez, if it doesn’t work out in a month, guess what your FWB and all those other online dates will still be there. Before OLD that’s what you did. I think the judgment of the woman is harsh when we all want just a chance and are tired of people thinking that hopping off dating merry go round for a few weeks/month is some HUGE sacrifice.

      • Yvonne Says:

        It’s called “I want to have my cake and eat it too”.

        • Parenting Says:

          I was thinking that too. Women who see long term potential in a partner and dont care if he is sleeping with other women are a small minority (if they exist at all). I dont think she sounds manipulative either, just naive.

          Im confused by the OPs motivations. I understand a guy who sees long term potential or does not see long term potential in a specific partner. Im confused as to what it means to say “I really like this girl Im dating and will make this relationship exclusive but later…when Ive finished sleeping with all of my other options.” Umh, are you sure you actually want an LTR with this girl?

          • Parenting Says:

            I should say, I understand a guy who sees long term potential, does not see long term potential or is not yet sure about a woman he is dating. Im sure but I’ll be exclusive later is a little weird.

            • Beta Male Says:

              I get the feeling the OP sees long-term potential in someone it’s just not “Jamie,” but with one of the other women he’s dating. If he saw the potential Jamie this would not even be an issue. I think the OP is leaning toward someone else but want to get a sense of their sexual compatibility before committing. The OP is probably being honest with Jamie to prepare her for the possibility that there is no long-term future for the two of them. I just find it telling that the OP does not say anywhere in the letter he is considering ending his FWB arrangement for Jamie only that he is considering ending it because of someone he’s dating.

          • Selena Says:


            Moxie first printed this letter several years ago. At the time, the OP D. participated in the comments. If I recall correctly, he broke it off with Jean not long after he wrote the letter because he didn’t see long term potential after all.

            • Parenting Says:

              Thanks for the update! Having read some of his comments in the past Im kinda surprised someone sobinsightful made this kind of mistake. I guess its harder to be clear sighted when its your own life.

              • Selena Says:

                Well, he wrote he wasn’t sleeping with the other women he was seeing so maybe agreeing to Jean’s sexual exclusivity request did not seem unreasonable?

                And we don’t know if Jean was also keeping her options open by dating other men, but choosing to only have sex with one.

                • Parenting Says:

                  D said in his letter “I think theres long term potential” in reference to Jean. Then he went on to say he is essentially wishy washy about her and intent on keeping his options open. I thought D would have enough introspection to realize he didnt really see long term potential in Jean (perhaps he wished he did).

      • UWSGal Says:

        I agree with this. For crying out loud, being “exclusive” is not getting married, she’s not asking for your firstborn or anything like that. It is so non-binding, merely a declaration on both parts to stop chasing other pussy, pause for a few months and really try to get to know the person who you consider “long term potential”. If that is so hard to do than the potential was never there. In fact most guys who really were into me asked to be exclusive THEMSELVES and fairly early, after a few dates. Men are territorial and they like to “lock down” the woman they like, when they like her. If he’s so scared to stop sleeping around for a few months – guess what – HJNTIY

        • Selena Says:

          This has been my experience also. The men who were really into me broke off whatever they had going on when they started sleeping with me. They WANTED exclusivity.

          In contrast, the men who kept me as an “option” were the one’s who were only casually interested in me at best. And they poofed after a month or two without any explanation.

          Exclusivity is not engagement, or a prelude to one. It’s merely an acknowledgment that two people like each other enough to focus on each other and see where it goes.

        • Selena Says:

          I don’t think it’s always about “locking it down”. More that it’s natural to want to spend your free time with someone you REALLY like, rather than with people you feel meh about in comparison. :-)

          • fuzzilla Says:

            Yeah, that’s true, if you’re really into someone, you just want to be with them and it’s a positive thing. But “locking it down” also means you don’t want to keep things casual because you don’t want someone else snapping them up for a relationship. I suppose you could look at that as a negative, but it’s a pretty common and strong motivation when you really like someone.

          • Parenting Says:

            It is about locking it down otherwise no one would ask for exclusivity, they would just stop seeing others without discussion.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      Yeah, she’s not pulling any “trickery.” He put her on the spot and that made her uncomfortable. I agree that she’s being disingenuous, though.

  4. Beta Male Says:

    I find it interesting that D said he may have to invoke the rule of stop hooking up with his FWB soon but he never said that the reason he is considering doing so is because of Jean the woman he is writing about.

  5. Betty Says:

    This is so sad and just makes me never want to date again. To this guy, we are just interchangeable and he can’t even understand why it would hurt this girl’s feelings if he banged another girl while simultaneously having sex with her. Gross and callous. And I agree with other posters in that suspending all your sexual activity while having sex with one person is not a prison sentence and shouldn’t be looked at as a sacrifice. I really hope I can meet someone at work or in real life because online dating is just masochistic at this point.

    • Jesse Says:

      Hey OP — time to bale — you already fucked this up. You think she is going to magically forget that you are a wanting to bang chicks while you are banging her? Ain’t gonna happen. It’s a matter of respect — you don’t respect her and she she just stopped respecting you. Here’s what is going to happen if continue down this path — you’re going to give in and miss seeing your FWB and then she’s going to drop you anyway. You’re already toast. Man up and break it off now. You’ve got nothing to lose because you’ve already lost it.

  6. coffeestop Says:

    I think OP just wants to continue having sex with as many women as possible for as long as possible. Nothing wrong with that. Both players here are trying to get what they want without defining things. I would advise Jean to stop seeing this man, he is just dangling the whole long term potential thing to keep her hooked. The OP has no intnetion of being exclusive with anybody again, that is fine but be honest.

  7. Sheba Says:

    I don’t really care for the passive aggressive game playing Moxie recommends here…comes over as spiteful and conniving, and I really don’t see what the girl has done to deserve it.

    If he doesn’t want to be exclusive, he should just be honest and say so, and then she can decide for herself how important it is to her at this stage.

  8. Nia Says:

    You know, I’m not sure this is “trickery”. I think the girlfriend Jean is trying to draw some very fine lines and split hairs and be “The Cool Girl TM” when she really wants 100% exclusivity, which is more the issue. If you want to be sure your guy isn’t sleeping with a FWB, you ask him to be exclusive period, not line-item veto every chick in his life, heh.

    I think both of these people were floundering. He is trying to have his cake, the GF material possible date, and eat it too, with the FWB.

    I mean, have I ever had a goodbye night with a long term FWB when I thought things were getting serious with another guy? You betcha! When I was in my 20’s and this kind of thing was common in my peer group and far more acceptable than it is now that I’m closing in on 40.

    The path to my current BF is a little different, in that he and I were friends, and we dated (very casually) other people during that friendship. We were pretty discreet about it in general, me less so because I felt that “if you want me to stop talking about dates or guys, there’s an easy way to do that. Make yourself the (only) guy I talk about.” It wasn’t trickery, per se, but I knew very well that men are competitive and social proof works wonders to make a person view you as potential (which I wanted, since I liked him).

    Maybe for whatever reason to OP is trying to do the same thing—signal his desirability to Jean by bringing up the hundreds of women dying to bang him (heh).

    But overall, they both made mistakes. Jean should have been upfront about her wants. OP should have been either 100% more discreet OR told Jean he didn’t want to be exclusive at all and made it clear she doesn’t get a veto on certain dates/women.

  9. Speed Says:

    We live in a high-tech, high-information society, so it’s easy to fall into the delusion that a person can bring their education and intellect to bear on dating issues.

    Hence, Fool 1 (“Jean”), and Fool 2 (the OP), who believe they can “persuade” their counterparts to agree to the terms they want. No doubt, both fools have read plenty of dating websites, maybe seen some TED talks, maybe even developed some quantitive models (yes, this is a thing, unfortunately) so now they feel they can “hack online dating (the actual title of one very popular TED talk, MIT if I recall).” Use a specific algorithm to get the person of your dreams! And how could MIT be wrong?

    I think someone is either on board with you or not. Maybe it’s for your looks, your money, your humor, your religion, your coke, whatever. They love you at first sight, or they’re just exhausted from looking and “you’ll do.” Something. It’s from your smile, body language, voice tone, pocketbook and a million other intangibles—not a statistics-laden business case about “why we should be exclusive” or “why you should be cool with my FWB” or whatever.

    This is why I sometimes think a cocktail server has more dating sense than a risk analyst. As Orwell wrote, “The more intelligent, the less sane.”

    Anyway, no doubt these two have sailed onto other fantasies by now. Good luck to them.

  10. AnnieNonymous Says:

    This is when I have to pull out my usual edict of “Dude, just be a better person.” The guy isn’t lying to her, but he’s acting like he doesn’t know what Jean wants. Don’t feign cluelessness when you know exactly what you’re doing. Jean is lying about being cool with the situation, but this dude is pretending like he doesn’t know that Jean is lying. It’s pointless and immature. Just admit that you want to bang your FWB one last time before thinking about asking Jean to be your girlfriend.

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