This Is How Long Couples Typically Wait Before Becoming Exclusive

exclusive datingA couple on a date. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Relationships are rather straightforward, at least when it comes to the topic of “exclusive dating.” According to a new survey, close to half of all couples establish exclusivity within a distinct time frame upon seeing someone new. Global market research and consulting firm Ipsos surveyed roughly 1,000 adults over the age of 18 in a recent poll. It found that about 39 percent of Americans believe three months into dating is an acceptable time frame to discuss exclusivity in a relationship. 

If you’re wondering, then, how many dates before an exclusive relationship, we did the math for you. If a couple goes on one date a week, that’s anywhere from 10 to 12 dates before they establish exclusivity, according to the survey. Say, schedules allow a couple to see each other more than once a week, that means it could even take 24 dates before exclusivity. However, increased frequency in seeing each other indicates exclusive dating has likely already been established by a certain point. 

man and woman watches sunrise in manhattan

A couple on a date. (Credit: Shutterstock)

The same report found, however, that despite the time frame, sentiment about dating overall skewed slightly negative. Among those surveyed, half of all respondents perceived dating as worse today than 20 years ago. 

While it’s unclear what’s causing this shift in perception, one big change has occurred with dating behaviors in the last two decades, and that’s the introduction of dating apps. The most popular way for to-be-weds to meet is now through apps like Tinder, Hinge and Bumble. In fact, The Knot 2019 Jewelry & Engagement Study found it’s how 22 percent of spouses met online and got engaged out of a pool of 11,000 respondents. The second most popular way engaged couples met was through mutual friends. 

(No direct correlation has been made between dating apps and a less-hopeful sentiment of dating, but overall, there are more ways to meet a partner—increasing the range of potential options, sometimes prompting “analysis paralysis.” However, couples who are intentional about finding a partner on dating apps could potentially see the benefits of a stronger marriage.)

In addition to dating sentiment, Ipsos researched first date behavioral patterns, including who pays and why. Seven in 10 male participants told Ipsos they’re the ones to pay on a first date, and 43 percent of those respondents admitted the wallet reach was formed out of habit. About 29 percent of females surveyed said they haven’t paid on a first date, nor would they consider it. 

viral beach wedding photo shoot

(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Regardless of how many dates it takes for a couple to establish exclusivity, another interesting relationship statistic recently sourced by Kayak found that nearly 60 percent of all adults would travel with someone they’ve dated for six months or less. In fact, 59 percent of respondents said they’d prefer to travel together over exchanging gifts on Valentine’s Day. 

So what comes after first dates, exclusivity, first trips and first holidays? After dating for some time, the topic of engagement could enter the picture. According to The Knot Jewelry and Engagement Study, 71 percent of those surveyed said they dated for more than two years before getting engaged. While each relationship is different, it’s good to keep in mind that this is data and patterns found from respondents across a diverse pool of regions, age groups and education levels. 

Finally, dating patterns have certainly shifted in 2020 with the average age of marriage rising again. In 2019, the marital age was 32. “In a dating relationship today, it’s perfectly okay to break things off if your partner is unwilling to meet your needs,” says Steve Dziedzic, Founder & CEO at Lasting. “Inevitably, this can lead to a higher marriage age because millennials are willing to wait for a partner who will wholly support them.”

About the Author

Esther Lee
Esther Lee
Esther is the Senior News Editor at The Knot. A self-proclaimed pop culture enthusiast, she appreciates a good celebrity interview just as much as she adores Nancy Meyers movies. You can find her kicking off her mornings with barre and a green juice, traveling and exploring new cultures, and rapidly scrolling her feed for the latest and greatest news. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @theestherlee.