bring on the exclusivity

Reader N. Y. writes:

I have been seeing a few different people and dating around, but I really hit it off with one of them and we’ve decided to be exclusive. What should I do about letting the other people I’ve been seeing know I’m taken?

Dear N.Y.:

There are several levels of passive-aggression you could take to this question. It all depends on your mood, how well you know the people you were dating, and how full of yourself you are.

Let’s just go from least passive-aggressive to most! It’ll be fun.


Call every person you have been dating and tell them you have met someone you are interested in pursuing something with in an exclusive way. Let the person you’re calling know that you had a lot of fun with them and that you wish them the best. If you would like to continue being friends with them, let ’em know that, too.

Douchebag quotient: Pretty high. You don’t know how interested they were in continuing something with you anyway. The least douchebaggy way to do this is if by calling to cancel a date you already had set up because you’re seeing someone else. Still douchebaggy, but less than just picking up your phone with seemingly no provocation to tell someone they’re not the right one for you and you’ve found someone better.


Similar to calling but less direct and you don’t have to deal with them responding to you immediately. In fact, they may never respond at all.

Douchebag quotient: Still pretty high, although less so. Again, telling someone you’re interested in something more serious with someone else is kind of a douchebaggy way to go, regardless of how honest you’re being.

NEXT LEAST PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE: Letting it come up in conversation naturally.


"Look, honey, we're official on Facebook now." Image: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is tricky, but it’s easier if you already had a date planned with them before you decided to go all out with the object of your actual affection, or if you’ve been dating within a friend circle and you happen to frequent the same events. In this instance, you can either let it drop during conversation (“Oh, I’m seeing this girl/guy–” or “Oh, my boyfriend/girlfriend–“), or someone else can mention it while in the presence of one of the other people you’ve been seeing. The problem with this is that you have little direction or control over it, especially in the instance of waiting for someone else to bring it up in convo. However, if the person you’ve been dating but no longer want to date asks something like, “So, wanna’ come home with me?”, you now have an IN for saying, “Sorry, I’m taken now, but thanks for buying me this beer.”

Douchebag quotient: Pretty douchebaggy, especially if you didn’t cancel a date and lead them on by going out with them and THEN dropping the bomb.

NEXT MOST PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE: Let them see you in public with your new SO.

While it may not work in big cities like New York or LA, this is definitely what’s going to happen if you live in small-town America, where you are bound to run into everyone you have ever dated since middle school at one point or another. Just hold hands with your new catch and let things happen as they will. Of course, you once again have little-to-no control over when, where, how, or even if the people you’ve been seeing figure it out.

Douchebag quotient: Not all that douchebaggy. You’re just going about your business, after all.

NEXT MOST PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE: Just change your Facebook status from “single” to “in a relationship”.

This is probably the route I’d take. Yes, it’s passive-aggressive, but it’s also a kind way to say, “Sorry things didn’t work out between us, but I’m moving on.” It can come as a shock to the folks you’ve been seeing, and if they’re not your friends on Facebook, they may never find out. But it gets the word out without being too in-your-face or pompous.

Douchebag quotient: Pretty low (if you don’t count passive-aggression as too douchebaggy). Again, you’re just declaring your takeness to the world, not singling anyone out and telling them what they’re missing.

MOST PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE: Just quit talking to the other people you’ve been seeing.

This is probably the route most people take in these situations. Your harem or stable will figure it out pretty quickly, anyway, especially if you’re actually friends and you’re out and about doing things with the new beau/belle and talking about it on Facebook. This route keeps the awkward to a minimum and lets the other datees save face without you rubbing it in their face that you chose someone else.

Douchebag quotient: Actually, this is pretty low on the dbag scale. While just ceasing all conversation with someone is usually the cowardly route to take, it can actually be the most reverent of their feelings. Which is nice.

4 Responses to “bring on the exclusivity”

  1. 1 Adrie
    November 12, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Great question and good advice- I never knew what to do in this situation.

    I always just went the ‘fade away’/stop talking to them route and felt bad for it. Glad to hear I wasn’t the only one wondering if this was the best way. πŸ™‚

  2. November 12, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    this is quite timely, to say the least. i love reading your blog, kat! keep it up

  3. November 12, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    And us loser types who always put our eggs in one basket and only date 1 person at a time (because any more than that overloads the microscopic attention span – screwing up names and such) don’t have this issue. Go losers! πŸ˜›

    I ditto the awesome blog! I always look forward to the next post!

  4. 4 Brian
    November 15, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I would say it depends (that’s the answer for everything!). How far have you gone in the relationship? Kissing? More? After thinking about it, just not contacting (as a male) is the easiest way because women generally expect you to call. If a guy continues to e-mail/text/call I think it is nice to let them down easy. I’d just do it whatever way is your “normal” way to communicate. If you just meet in person, do that it that way. If you chat on the phone a lot, just do it the next time they call. If you e-mail/text, same thing. Just let them know that you met someone that has turned serious and you are sorry it didn’t work out. I have always got positive responses. Well, once I didn’t. She wanted the girls address to beat her up…that was a little bizarre (it also reinforced that I was choosing someone better).

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