Figuring out how to get a boyfriend isn’t rocket science, so why does it feel impossible in modern dating?
How many times have I seen the “cool girl” come to me for help, thinking that the more chill and relaxed she seems, and the more go with the flow she acts, the more he'll dig her and put her in the girlfriend material bucket? I’ve seen this backfire 100 times.
It's true that not everyone is on the same timeline to become exclusive because some people's feelings take longer to develop in the relationship. However, you should generally be on the same page. And if you're questioning what page he's on, that's your cue to ask. The answer isn't to wait around endlessly.
Casual dating should not come at the cost of compromising your needs!
Get up the courage to say what you actually want (ex. to delete your online dating profiles, an exclusive committed relationship, a boyfriend/girlfriend status) and then be prepared to walk away if you don’t get it. I know it can be scary to be vulnerable, but otherwise you end up investing time, energy, and love into an unequal relationship, and you wind up hurt anyway. If you’re growing resentful, you need to take action.
Asserting your needs does not make you needy. Write this down and tell it to yourself over and over until you believe it.
You deserve a relationship—that’s developmentally normal, so don't let the hookup culture make you feel unworthy or unwanted. If you've been dating for a few weeks or months, it's ok to discuss how you’re feeling, where you’re hoping it goes, or what you’re ready for right now.
“Will I seem needy if I tell him I don’t want us to date other people?” In most cases, no. But if you’ve only gone on one date, or it’s week one and you tell him you want his babies, then yes, you will scare him away!
If you’ve already had sex, especially unprotected, and you’re not cool with casual sex, then a conversation is necessary. Use your senses about timing, and if you’re unsure, talk it out with a trusted friend for a second opinion.
If he has not initiated any conversations that directly suggest the relationship is moving forward, and you’ve been waiting for awhile, SPEAK UP! That ambiguous in-between state can be really uncomfortable, and learning that you are on the same page is a wonderful secure feeling.
Go into the conversation prepared to walk away if he can't give you what you need. Tell him, "At this point I'm looking for an exclusive relationship, and I think I'm ready." Give him a chance to comment. If he doesn't say anything, ask, "What are you looking for?" If he can't give you a solid answer, or he's not ready to commit, tell him at this point you're invested and don't think you can continue seeing him because you want different things.
Next is the important part—stick to your word and walk away, even if it's heart wrenching. If he can let you go, he's not worth your time, otherwise he'll lock it down.
I had a client facing this problem after casually dating and sleeping with the same man for many months. Eventually she realized she wanted more out of their relationship, and waited awhile for him to bring up exclusivity. When she was sick of waiting, so broached the topic. He said he did not want a girlfriend right now, so she ended things cold turkey. A couple weeks later, she started receiving love letters (yes, real snail mail—how romantic!) from him saying he realized he made a big mistake and he was totally in love with her.
Remember, a fear of rejection prevents you from getting what you really want, but to have your needs met you need to be vulnerable. Be brave and put your needs out there.
It’s time to stop playing the “cool girl!” There’s no more mystery on how to get a boyfriend. Be assertive and ask for an exclusive relationship, or that boyfriend/girlfriend title you’ve been patiently waiting for.
Ask yourself whether you continue in your current relationship the way it is, will you wind up feeling hurt and resentful anyway? Ultimately, if he doesn’t realize what a treasure you are, you can leave with peace of mind that you stood up for yourself. You got this!