To date or not to date multiple people at once?
- Justin DeMarco, BettyConfidential.comI'm not skilled enough to date more than one person at a time. I learned that my junior year of college when I dated three different girls at once. I confused conversations, couldn't keep track of the actual date nights because I was scared to write the dates down on paper and risk one of the girls I was dating at the time finding out about the other girls, and occasionally made up lame excuses why I couldn't hang out on a given night, even though the reality was I had a date planned with someone else. Sometimes it felt like I went on a first date with a girl I had already gone on a few dates with because I couldn't remember anything about her. I must have acted like my grandpa at dinner telling the girls the same stories over and over because I couldn't recall what stories I had already told each of them.
Technically, I knew I wasn't doing anything unethical. I wasn't in a committed relationship or dating any of the girls exclusively. But my moral compass told me differently. Call it Catholic guilt. Instead of enjoying the company of the three girls I was dating and loving my awesome situation - having a surplus of attractive, fun, and smart girls to hang out with - I was constantly worried that I was doing something wrong.
"If no rules have been established, it's fair game to date around and even hook up with other people," Sabrina, a 33-year old, New York City event planner said. "That's gotten me into trouble before, but if a guy wants exclusivity with me he has to earn it."
But where did the "dating multiple people at once is cool" rule come from? I think we all just make the rules up as we go along and either hide behind them or stand firmly against them. Dating multiple people at once, committed or not, just seems wrong to some people, even if others say it's the way to go.
"I prefer dating one girl because dating multiple girls is something for the young and foolish," Landon, a 27-year old director in Los Angeles said. "In order to succeed at dating multiple girls, you must maintain a strict discipline. You need to keep track of all information, every lie told, the schedule for all parties involved and every strategy, and this must be committed to memory, because god forbid someone finds something you wrote down. Then you are in a real mess."
Dating multiple people at once isn't all about the risk of getting caught though. It also has to do with your personal beliefs about what is right and wrong, especially when other peoples' emotions are involved.
"If you're at the beginning stages of dating it's okay to get drinks with someone else," Gabi, a 23-year old comedian living in Los Angeles said. "I would just get drinks and keep it super casual. I definitely would not even kiss on the date and probably would insist on going Dutch. It really depends on how into the person you're seeing. Like with my boyfriend now, even when we were in the super casual stages like a date a week type of deal, I wasn't even looking at other guys because I was so into him."
Or as Sarah, a 23-year old communications director from New Jersey, put it: "I don't like to date more than one guy at a time because that would make me feel like a ho."
That explains why the "what are we doing?" conversation usually pops up after a few dates.
"I usually know pretty quickly if I'm going to want to take things further with a girl," Rod, a 27-year old talent agent from Boston, said. "I've never been big on wasting time. And though I'm not usually the one to bring it up, the topic of exclusivity usually comes up in the first couple of weeks."
After all, asking is the only way to find out exactly what you're doing in each dating scenario. That way both of you can state the terms and live by them. The only problem is, what if you ask too soon? Then you run the risk of ruining something fun.
Now I'm starting to realize why there are unwritten rules when it comes to dating. And the people who created the "dating multiple people at once is cool" philosophy must have been brilliant. They were able to come up with a way to keep dating vague and fun, without running the risk of getting in trouble or having other people hold it against you if you saw more than one person at a time.
Unfortunately, I'm still trying to figure out a way to successfully date multiple people at once, guilt free.
Tell us: Is dating multiple people at once acceptable or not?
Justin DeMarco is a New York City-based writer. He co-wrote Hockey: The Musical! with Rick Wilson, which premiered at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 2008.To read more from BettyConfidential:
I'm a Party Girl, Do I Need to Tell My Boyfriend?
- It's Okay Not to Like Him
- What We Learned About Men in November