Dear Thomas,
I've been with my boyfriend for six weeks now, and our relationship is getting better and closer all the time. My question is, when should we officially declare that we are "exclusive" to each other and no longer available to date other people? We met online, and both of our profiles are still active on the dating service. Should we take them down, or wait until some more time has passed before doing so?
--Should We

Dear Should We,
Every relationship has its own tempo; some are fast and some are slow in developing. For some couples, six weeks of dating is plenty of time to decide if the relationship is serious. But many people are more cautious. They’ve known the experience of a painful separation and don’t want to go there again. They see their friends making mistakes, and they don't want to follow suit.

The mere fact that you are asking if it’s time to get serious makes me think that you’re not quite ready yet. In matters of the heart, you many never be completely certain. Some people get married and still wonder, maybe even years later, if they did the right thing. This worry is disturbing, but it’s a kind of reflection that can deepen your choices and decisions.

So, I think it’s good that you’re asking the question, should I close off other options. It's good, just as long as it doesn’t get excessive and paralyzing. Healthy self-questioning can be a way of sorting out your feelings and values.

Eventually, you’ll want more certainty.

I say give it a little more time until you feel clearer and don’t have to ask your question. You will know from your feelings that it’s time to take your name off the dating list. If you go on and on and never feel ready to take a leap into a real relationship, then you can ask: Is this one heading nowhere, or am I just afraid to take a chance? I can’t give you a magic number of weeks or months for when you'll be ready to have this inner conversation, not to mention talking about it with your boyfriend. You'll just have to follow the calendar of your heart.

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