Ah, dating. Some people hate it. Some love it. Some want to do it an awful lot.
On the MOD Love radio show, we recently received a question from one male listener asking how to go about dating multiple people – women – without, in less colorful language than he used, “making them angry.” The writer recently ended a long term relationship and was interested in dating multiple women, but didn’t want to be sneaky.
I can whole-heartedly support the desire to not be sneaky, for that path leads to all sorts of bad things. I can also sympathize with the writer, as I have been through a phase where I needed to find myself and figure out what I wanted in a relationship. Dating multiple women seemed a fine way to do it. It is not, however, the only way.
Let’s look at dating multiple women first. Sure, it can be done. If you are currently in a relationship, though, and want to change it up, angering the other person is a definite possibility. You’ve had some form of agreement as to how the relationship was going to be and now you want to change it up – to renegotiate the contract. Still, it’s your right to have relationships that work for you, you’ll just have to take your lumps and let the chips fall where they may. I’m going to guess you’ll find yourself suddenly unattached. If you decide to stay in the relationship at this point by not mentioning what you want, you’ll be living a lie – not a good way to maintain a healthy relationship.
Ok, so now you’re single, either because the previous paragraph didn’t pertain to you or it did and you followed through on changing things up. How do you now go forth and date? In an honest manner, that’s how. Now, I’m not saying the first words out of your mouth should be, “Hi, my name is Bob and I want to date multiple women.” Some time by the 3rd or 4th date, and definitely before you sleep together, you need to have that discussion, though. On the first couple dates it is reasonable to assume that both of you are dating around, looking for the right fit. As long as you don’t lie about your intentions, you can keep those first couple dates casual.
The time has come, though, and you need to have the talk. What do you say? Well, what exactly are you looking for in your dating relationships? Some friendliness with perhaps a little handholding? Deeper, loving relationships (see: polyamory)? Multiple sex partners? Whatever it is, you need to define what you’re expecting. She can then state what she’s looking for. If you’re both on the same page? Success! If not, you go your separate ways and you try again with the next woman. If you’ve been honest to this point, there shouldn’t be any anger, at least justifiable anger. You can’t control other people’s feelings.
Remember, you need to look at the situation from her angle, too. What value is she getting out of such a relationship? How likely are you to find women that will see the value proposition you make? Many women won’t see the value, because they value different things. Be sure you’re OK with that. No sense getting upset that your pool of potential partners is smaller than you’d like because of your own criteria. The more unreasonable your criteria (I can date others, but you can’t. I don’t have to tell you who I’ve been with, but I want to know who you’re seeing. Etc.) the less likely you’ll find a willing partner.
Assuming she’s willing, I highly encourage some ground rules. If either of you will be sexually active, a commitment to safe sex is a must. Decide how you will respect each other’s privacy regarding who else you’re dating. It would also be wise to agree that if either of you decide the current setup no longer works for you that you raise the issue immediately. It may mean an end to the relationship, but if both people aren’t getting what they want, then that’s for the best.
I believe many men who wish to date multiple women at a time are either: in a rush to experience different women and so want to cram a few into a short amount of time, or wish to have multiple sex partners without emotional attachment. If the former, you may find patience, and dating one woman at a time, is a safer route. You’re encouraged to end relationships early if it isn’t what you’re looking for – don’t waste each other’s time. If the latter, well, there are certainly willing people out there. Just be honest about what you’re looking for and spend a little time trying to understand what they are looking for and make sure you’re willing to commit to that in a truthful manner.
Dating multiple people at the same time has its challenges and not everyone is up to it. If you want to try it do so in an honest manner. Setup guidelines that are fair to all parties involved. Let go of the relationships that are no longer mutually satisfying.
Steve is the founder of Straight Talk Entertainment and currently produces and writes for the audio drama Aural Traditions, recently voted Charleston City Paper’s Best Local Podcast. He’s also an Information Security professional and avid shark tooth hunter.