'I Wouldn't Date My Partner Exclusively Until He Proposed—This Is What Our Marriage Is Like'

I'm a dating and relationship coach working with women across the globe and I've been happily married now for seven years. My husband Chris and I are the parents of two little boys.

But my life wasn't always this way. Nine years ago I couldn't sustain a man in my life for more than three months. I was excelling in my career, but when it came to my love life, it was a disaster. The truth is that even though I was "a catch" on paper, my love life was a string of miserable experiences. My relationships with men would fizzle out or tell me they "just weren't feeling it" or wanted something "casual."

The more I liked a man, the harder I tried to get a commitment and the faster I lost them. It was a frustrating, lonely and confusing process. This pattern continued until I decided I'd had enough. The defining moment was when a man who I thought was "the one" for me decided to dump me after two months of intense, electric dating. I knew I had to stop, take a break and reflect.

I realised I was treating men as the prize, when really, I was the prize! I decided to take control of my love life and started to study relationships and attraction—the work I did, changed my love life forever.

Not only did I work on self love and stronger boundaries, I also decided to take ownership of my desire for marriage and kids as I stepped out to date again after that major heartbreak. Within nine months, I had attracted, dated and got engaged to my husband Chris while "rotational dating" other great men, refusing to be exclusive until I was proposed to.

When I met Chris I remember liking him so much, right from the beginning. So when he suggested becoming exclusive after two months of dating, a part of me wanted to accept his offer immediately. But I am proud of myself for sharing with him in no uncertain terms that to me, being boyfriend and girlfriend was for teenagers and that I was looking for a forever commitment.

He was surprised and a little taken aback. I understood that there was no way he was going to propose to me within two months of knowing me. I explained that I completely got it and that it would make sense for both parties to simply stretch the evaluation process longer, until we knew that we were the one for each other. Meanwhile, it would be fair to keep our options open and get to know other people.

I remember Chris didn't contact me for three days after that conversation. While a part of me was afraid I had lost him, I still knew I had done the right thing for me. I was thrilled when he did end up calling me again, having thought about what I had said and wanted to go out and explore what I had in mind.

Long story short, I met several great men during this phase and Chris was unfazed. He trusted me and we had agreed that we weren't sleeping with other people. The men I dated were all kind, generous, courteous, and I made it completely clear that I wasn't dating to be exclusive. I told them all that I would keep my options open until forever commitment was on the table.

Of course, I got mixed reactions during the process and I was okay with it. Some thought it was very powerful and dignified to own up to what I wanted. Others thought it was weird yet interesting. Some even judged it and found it scandalous, and I can understand why. There can be an assumption that if you "see someone," you must be sleeping with them. This is where it's important to understand the way I "rotationally dated." I wasn't sleeping with lots of different partners, although I wouldn't judge anybody else making that choice. My choice was to meet many amazing men and get to see if I could build a stronger emotional connection with them.

Proposal, dating, rotational dating, marriage, relationship
Getty/iStock

Based on my experience, and that of almost 200 clients I have worked with and helped to get engaged, I passionately believe that "rotational dating" is the most revolutionary way for single women to date. When you "rotationally date," you don't spend your entire time focused on the one man you have just met. "Rotational dating" allows for filtering to happen as "low effort" men who just want quick sex with you simply fall out. In this way, it makes room for true intimacy to develop over time with the right man for you.

For those women who worry about testing sexual compatibility before taking a serious step such as an engagement, I would say there's nothing wrong with enjoying physical intimacy with a rotational date where things are moving in the direction of the commitment you both desire.

Various permutations and combinations of the model are possible, based on what a man and woman in the equation want for themselves. But ultimately, it is about committing fully only with the right person—someone who wants the same things you do in the long term.

For me, that was marriage, though for another woman it could be having a baby or buying a house together.

After nine months of dating, my husband Chris proposed to me in a very romantic setting. He told me he couldn't imagine his life without me and that he had met the woman of his dreams. We were engaged and living together for six months before we tied the knot. Today, we're blissfully married and have been blessed with two healthy children. I have everything I ever wanted.

I remember experiencing hiccups during that six month living together phase, but that is something most couples would go through when they start living together 24/7. However, as were engaged, I feel that we went through this phase with much more compassion and patience for each other. Particularly when it came to resolving the small irritations like one partner not putting the toilet seat down or one partner wanting to open the windows on chilly Sunday mornings!

Proposal, dating, rotational dating, marriage, relationship
Getty/iStock

Today, seven years into the marriage, we've lived through many ups and downs together. I like to see our marriage as equal and modern but more than anything, it is founded in the principles of partnership and mutual love.

For example, when Chris acquired a top job at the European Space Agency, I left my job and we decided to move together to Paris. At that point, since I couldn't speak French, I briefly found myself in the role of "house wife" as my husband became the main provider. To be honest, I really enjoyed that phase because it was a completely different experience compared to my previous ambitious and driven career path. Many people thought that since I had taken the traditional path in dating, this model with Chris as the provider was to be expected.

But now, in 2020, I am the CEO of my own company. I earn far more than my husband today, even though he has a very reputable job.

While some say the tables have now turned, I believe it was never about success or money. When Chris was working and I wasn't, I did not feel inferior. Today, when I make more money than him, he does not feel inferior to me. And neither of us has ever judged the other on their earnings.

When two people love each other, they support each other's dreams and aspirations—that is what Chris and I have done. Both our dreams are important and both of us equally participate in the upbringing of our children. When he has busy days at work, you'll find me cooking and taking on more chores. On my demanding days, he'll be doing the same for me.

In this sense, we have a truly modern household and I am proud to have a very secure husband who can handle a successful woman and not be threatened by her achievements. In fact, my success is not mine alone. I truly believe that my career trajectory can also be majorly attributed to having a loving and supportive husband by my side who is an equal partner.

Of course, like all couples, we have our arguments but we use communication, patience and love to navigate through them wisely.

Am I happy with my decision to refuse to date Chris exclusively? Absolutely. I would do it all over again. Of course, everyone has the right to date as they wish, but taking a more traditional position in dating worked for me and I believe there is wisdom to be found in it.

relationships, dating, marriage, love
Sami Wunder with her husband, Chris. Sami refused to date Chris exclusively until he proposed to her. Courtesy of Sami Wunder

I tend to work with women as my clients, and I see that so many settle for long term relationships as girlfriends, hoping to become wives one day. I believe that they don't have to go through this! They could instead be upfront about what they truly want and feel worthy of having it.

For anyone thinking that marriage isn't their goal but still wanting long term commitment, I'd recommend taking your time getting to know your potential partner. I suggest testing long term compatibility and building an emotional bond before jumping into bed with someone. Keep your options open until you know without a doubt that you have found the person you want to commit to.

Do not settle and do not obsess over the first nice man, or woman, you meet.

Sami Wunder is an internationally recognized, leading dating and relationship coach for high achieving women and CEO of a global seven-figure company, samiwunder.com, based in Germany. Sami's aim is to help women have the love and relationship they desire. You can find out more about her at samiwunder.com. You can also join her Wunder Divas Facebook group for dating and relationship advice here.

All views expressed in this piece are the writer's own.