8 Questions To Ask A Potential Partner Before Becoming Exclusive

8 Questions To Ask A Potential Partner Before Becoming Exclusive

If you frequent TikTok, you’re well aware of its many different sectors–whatever it is that you’re looking for can be found on the social media platform, from beauty tips and style advice to morning and evening routines. TikTok is also a great resource for relationship advice! It goes without saying that you should take what you find on TikTok with a grain of salt or double-check with your own provider depending on what advice you’re seeking out.

One professional handing out a wealth of relationship advice is Jeff Gunther, LPC who I stumbled across via TikTok. Late last month, he dropped a TikTok entitled "8 questions to ask your sweetie before you become exclusive" that featured 8 top-tier questions to ask potential for a deeper dive before making things official-official.

Similarly to the topics that couples should discuss early on in dating to establish what might be non-negotiables, the questions that Gunther proposes to precede exclusivity in your relationships are a great indicator of whether to move the relationship forward or take a step back. “None of these questions are deal-breakers unless you want them to be deal-breakers," Gunther tells xoNecole. "I believe all the answers can be talked about and processed successfully before you decide to commit to a new partner. However, if the majority of these answers are not to your liking you may end up either delaying becoming exclusive or ending things so that you can go find someone who’s a better match.”

Additionally, Gunther recommends revisiting these questions and the responses every six months as a relationship check-in as a means to stay on the same page. “People grow and change in relationships and it’s important [that] you’re still a good match as you move forward," he explains.

Okay, but what are the questions? I’m sure you’re wondering as I go on my tangent. Keep reading to learn more about the 8 questions to ask before becoming exclusive and why.


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1. What is your definition of 'cheating'?

As Gunther pointed out in his TikTok, the definition of cheating can differ from person to person and therefore from relationship to relationship. There are different types of cheating (i.e. emotional cheating, sexual cheating) and different levels of cheating (i.e. online affairs, sexual fantasies, financial infidelity). And because cheating has levels to it, one person might have a hard line of no intimate contact of any kind with a person outside of themselves.

Another person might be more flexible in their approach to things like flirting, watching porn, fantasizing, etc. In order to be aligned on what crossing a line and what respecting a line looks like, this question should definitely be discussed.

2. What kind of relationship do you want?

Relationships are not one size fits all and can be tailored to the ideal that both (or more) parties desire. In addition to the more traditional monogamous relationship, there are also nonmonogamous relationships like monogamish, solo-poly, a free relationship, and the more well-known polyamory. Also, just because people might decide to be in a monogamous relationship doesn't mean the 'structure' they are after in a relationship is the same across the board. Again, one size does not fit all.

There might be rules or boundaries that are necessary to put in place and respect if a relationship is to take place. For example, guidelines like sharing passwords or not sharing passwords might be discussed or if people share a living space, a boundary of what alone time in a relationship looks like might be established.

3. What type of kinky stuff are you into?

In regards to kinky stuff, Gunther briefly explains in his video, "You're not trying to yuck their yum, you're just trying to know what to expect." And that is the perfect way to approach this particular question. When it comes to discussing taboo topics, even in the safety of partnership, it can feel a little daunting, especially when there can be an element of sexual shame looming in the atmosphere. Approach this question with an open mind and allow people to express their fetishes, fantasies, and kinks freely. After that, it can be decided whether those kinks work for both parties or if they absolutely don't.

4. What’s your biggest worry about me?

Though the nature of the questions doesn’t seem harmful at all, it is possible for everyone’s perception to differ. This immediately made me wonder what it looks like to have this conversation with ease–doing so in a way that creates as safe and comfortable of a space as possible rather than tension and guardedness. In particular, Gunther suggests that we “enter into this question with curiosity and do your best to be compassionate. We all have red flags. Most of us don’t know what they are.”

It can feel like a loaded question to prompt an ask that prompts someone to convey a concern, worry, doubt, fear, or red flag and it is easy for the response to trigger a desire to go on the defense. Instead of going on the defense, welcome that feedback as the gift that it is. He adds that the opportunity is in fact a "chance to reassure them or give them more context about something they’re fearful about. This question allows you two to be honest about how you’re feeling instead of keeping it bottled up and hoping for the best!”

5. Are you okay with being my primary support person?

As humans, we all rely on others for support from time to time. Because we have emotional needs, it is natural to look to a partner for support, especially in relationships. In relationships, the people in them tend to lean on each other more than those outside of the relationship. For this question, it is important to understand how emotionally supportive and available your potential partner may be in relation to the relationship. If the answer to the question is no and therefore there is more of a need to rely on your community than the other person in the relationship, Gunther prompts his viewers to ask themselves, "Am I okay with that?" If you are, that's totally fine. And if you're not, that's fine too.

6. What are you giving the most energy to right now (school, work, family, friends, this relationship)?

When thinking about pushing a relationship forward into exclusivity, what the other person realistically has the capacity for is an important element to factor in. Understanding where you and the relationship potentially rank on someone's list of priorities and how that impacts the health of your relationship and your happiness should be discussed sooner rather than later. "If your sweetie is focusing more on work instead of the relationship and you’re let down with that answer it is 100% appropriate to ask them for a timeline of when they’ll be able to prioritize you over everything else. It’s also 100% appropriate for them to tell you that they don’t have an answer.”

Another example could be seeing one another frequently throughout the week is important to one person, but the other person doesn't have the bandwidth to accommodate or prioritize the relationship the way you would like to be prioritized -- that's something that needs to be discussed. Likewise, if there is room to accommodate different priorities and less in-person time together is something that could be respected (not just tolerated), that should be discussed too. Like the seasons, energy and priorities can shift, which is why doing relationship check-ins every six months or so is encouraged so that everyone stays on the same page.

7. Does anyone else think they’re in a relationship with you right now?

This question right here! In today's dating landscape, gray areas can be commonplace and the status of a relationship could very well be up in the air, or at the very least unclear to everyone involved. If the two of you are casual and have still been entertaining other people, or even if there are some persistent exes looming, this question is very valid and should be asked before moving into the official relationship category. That way it is clear to both parties if the two of you are single-single or if there is some communication that might need to take place to make boundaries clear to people outside of your relationship out of respect for the relationship you are creating with each other.

8. What do you think is most important that I should be aware of?

And for the last question, it's an open-ended one that allows both parties to take the stage and share anything they feel is important to share with the other person. Overall, you want to be present in the conversation, even when you aren’t necessarily fond of the feedback or response you’re receiving. By being present and responding with curiosity, you come closer to making a sound decision regarding the potential of the information. This is always the case – the more information, the better you’re able to make your decision.

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