happy couple

Whether you’ve just recently met someone you’re into or have been seeing this person for several months (or more), there usually comes a time where you decide when and if you should turn things up a notch towards exclusive dating. This means taking more than just deleting your online accounts or ignoring texts and messages from other potential candidates—it's a real commitment, explains Dave Bowden, online dating expert, confidence coach and founder of Irreverent Gent. And, while, it's not quite as big as a commitment as an engagement or a marriage, he explains that it’s a big first step in that direction and a sign that you're not just “interested” in your new partner, but serious about them. In other words, when you agree to date your partner exclusively, you’re signaling to him or her that out of all the people in the world that you could be with romantically right now, you are choosing him or her. It’s not only taking the “next” step in the relationship, but it’s taking a giant leap forward, so to speak.

If you’re wondering whether you’re ready, know that it’s perfectly normal to question it. To help you decide, we asked relationships experts to share the signs that you might be ready for exclusive dating.

You’ve lost your interest in dating other people.

As Amanda Rose, dating expert, matchmaker and founder and CEO of Dating Boutique and Prestige Connections, puts it, there comes a point in each dating relationship where we know if we want to continue to see this person and create a relationship with them—or at least there’s a point where we realize we’re still “looking” for that special someone and we don’t know if this person is it. “Either is okay, however, when you get to the point where you’re excited to be with and talk to this person over any other people you are dating,” she says. “This is a clear sign you’re moving towards exclusive dating.”

You get excited about doing something for him or her.

It's pretty common to start dating someone and feel an initial spark – that sense that you have some chemistry, some connection, explains Bowden. “At that early stage, you feel a rush of anticipation every time you see that person again, and get excited about doing something with them, but when you really start to forge a connection and fall hard, you don't just get excited about doing something with them, but about doing something for them.” Whether it’s surprising them with a homemade dinner after a long day at work or getting them tickets to see their favorite band, craving the desire to do these kind gestures may signal that you’re ready to be exclusive.

You want to show him or her off.

If you feel proud and even enthusiastic about being seen in public with the person your dating, it’s a great sign that you’re ready for exclusive dating. “When you walk into a room on their arm, you feel like you won—and they feel the same about you,” explains Laurel House, dating and relationship expert and host of the Man Whisperer podcast. “You are proud of each other and proud of who you are as people and what you stand for as a couple and as individuals, and they want everyone else to see how great you are too.”

You feel attractive pretty much always.

“Those rose-colored glasses that you have on when looking at your life, they are on when looking at yourself too—and that’s because when in a bad or not great emotional place, it’s easy to find the bad and not great in life and in yourself,” explains House. “You no longer see that your nose is slightly angled to the left, you don’t notice that your right eye closes just a little bit when you smile, you don’t care that you have a chip on your front tooth, because instead you focus on the multitude of colors in your eyes, the quirky and therefore lovable expression that you make when you smile, and the way your cheeks turn the perfect shade of pink when you’re happy.” This is not only a great way to feel, but a sure sign that you’re with someone who you’ll be happy with dating exclusively.

Their friends start to become your friends.

If you feel a connection with the people your partner considers to be friends, it bodes quite well for your future as a couple. These are the people who you’ll spend the most time with in the accompaniment of your partner, so it’s important that you not only get along with them, but enjoy being around them. “Starting to form a connection to the people in your partner's social circles indicates that you have similar taste in people, and likely similar values, both of which bode well for exclusive dating and your future together,” says Bowden.

The sex is amazing.

Most people you ask will attest to the fact that good sex is an important predictor of a good relationship. And Bowden agrees that establishing a physical connection with someone is just as important as establishing an emotional and mental connection to someone. “In most cases, exclusive dating means committing to only sleeping with each other, so if making that commitment feels like a sacrifice, then going exclusive may not be the right move for you, at least not yet,” he says. “But if the thought of only being with one person is more of a turn on than a deterrent, then chances are you're ready to take your relationship to the next level—both in and out of the bedroom.”